2006 Record: 12-1, 8-0 Head Coach: Jim Tressel
Ted Ginn Jr. - WR - Round 1 - Miami
Anthony Gonzalez - WR - Round 1 - Indianapolis
Quinn Pitcock - DT - Round 3 - Indianapolis
Antonio Pittman - RB - Round 4 - New Orleans
Jay Richardson - DE - Round 5 - Oakland
Roy Hall - WR - Round 5 - Indianapolis
Troy Smith - QB - Round 5 - Baltimore
Doug Datish - OC - Round 6 - Atlanta
Brandon Saine – RB – 6’0” – 200 – Piqua, OH
Eugene Clifford – S – 6’2” – 190 – Cincinnati, OH
Jermale Hines – LB – 6’2” – 205 – Cleveland, OH
Nate Oliver – S – 6’0” – 200 – Lakewood, OH
Donnie Evege – CB – 5’11” – 185 – Huber Hts., OH
Solomon Thomas – DE – 6’4” – 210 West Chester, OH
Cameron Heyward – DT – 6’5” – 265 – Suwanee, GA
James Scott – CB – 5’10” – 165 Daytona Beach, FL
Key Players Returning:
Malcolm Jenkins – CB – Jr.
Chris Wells – RB – Soph.
James Laurinaitis – LB – Jr.
Alex Boone – OT – Jr.
Marcus Freeman – LB – Jr.
Brian Robiskie – WR – Jr.
Kirk Barton – OT – Sr.
Vernon Gholston – DE – Jr.
Steve Rehring – LG – Jr.
Dionte Johnson – FB – Sr.
2007 Ohio State Offensive Outlook
The 2007 Ohio State offense will look much different than the high-powered 2006 offense that included Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr., Antonio Pittman, and Anthony Gonzalez. The question may not be how will the offense produce after losing those stars, but who will emerge as the next star? Coach Tressel had the luxury of using a number of players in games that got out of hand last year, so the new starters won’t be awe struck by their new roles. The one new starter with limited playing time last season will be filling the role of the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner.
Junior QB Todd Boeckman has waited patiently for his opportunity to lead the Ohio State offense, and now he will have that responsibility. Boeckman played in just three games last season and completed two of his three passing attempts for a total of 19 yards. Boeckman does not fit the mold of Troy Smith. His 6’5” - 235 pound frame comes with a strong arm, but he won’t be looked upon to make plays with his feet as Smith was able to provide. One thing that can be counted on is that Tressel will get the most out of Boeckman who has had plenty of time to learn the system while watching the OSU offense explode over the past few years. If for any reason Boeckman does not pan out as the next QB there is big talent waiting in the wings. Sophomore Rob Schoenhoft and redshirt freshman Antonio Henton will have opportunities to showcase their skills late in games, and you can’t rule out the possibility of Tressel finding time earlier for these younger players.
Chris Wells will be the feature back for the OSU offense. C. Wells enters the season as one of the top running backs in the nation. He earned valuable time on the field last year and showed he can provide the big play, but he will need to do a better job hanging onto the ball. Tressel sent him a message in the middle of last season by reducing his time on the field for a while after a few fumbles. C. Wells responded and had his biggest run of the season against Michigan. Maurice Wells will serve as the number two running back and provide a different look with his smaller frame and good speed.
The receivers will look a little different this year considering Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez each were picked in the first round of the NFL draft. Junior Brian Robiskie will assume the role as the number one receiver. Robiskie played in all 13 games last year and caught 29 passes including five touchdowns. Sophomore Brian Hartline, and Juniors Ray Small and Albert Dukes will be looked upon for production. The receivers won’t have the same role as Ginn and Gonzalez with a renewed focus to run the ball, but balance is the key to being successful in the Big Ten.
The offensive line will be one of the best in the conference again this year with three returning starters. Kirk Barton and Alex Boone are monster tackles that will blow open holes for Wells and give Boeckman time to throw. Junior Steve Rehring returns as a starting guard. Junior Ben Person will enter the mix as a new starting G, and sophomore Jim Cordle will step in as the new center.
Once again the defense will look to fill positions as new starters, but the candidates saw a decent amount of action last year as backup. The defensive line has the biggest questions with just one returning starter in junior DE Vernon Gholston. Gholston led the team in 2006 with 8.5 sacks. Junior Lawrence Wilson will join Gholston as the other DE, and sophomores Todd Denlinger and Doug Worthington will start at DT. These three bring size to the line which will need to occupy offensive linemen to keep the linebackers running free.
James Laurinaitis exploded onto the scene in 2006. Laurinaitis led the OSU defense in tackles (105) and interceptions (5) in 2006 in a season where linebacker appeared to be a major question at the beginning of the season. With a new defensive line up front, it will be interesting to see if he can reach those numbers again in 2007. Marcus Freeman returns as a starter at LB, and Larry Grant will see his first starting action this season. Grant has seen plenty of action so starting won’t be a big change for the senior.
The defensive backfield returns two starters from last season in juniors Malcolm Jenkins and Jamario O’Neal. Jenkins is considered one of the top cover CBs in the nation and has been named to the 2007 Jim Thorpe Award Watch List. O’Neal brings experience to the safeties, but the secondary was exploited by Florida in the National Championship game last season and will need to prepare for teams that will attempt to throw often. Sophomore Donald Washington will be tested at the other CB position because Jenkins will deter teams from throwing his way. Junior Nick Patterson will start a FS but has game experience.
Junior punter A.J Trapasso returns as the biggest name among the special teams.
Trapasso had a good 2006 season, but rarely had to punt in big situations
because of the high-powered offense. Trapasso is consistent, and punting won’t be a concern.
Sophomore Aaron Pettrey didn’t see many field goal opportunities last season (11) and still seems a little unproven. He showed decent consistency throughout the season after a rough start. He’ll be asked to provide more than extra points this year.
With the departure of Ginn, Big Ten punters may be able to relax and just let the punts fly against the Buckeyes. Although, Ray Small will try to give the return game the explosiveness it has had over the past three years. Small, a sophomore, has the ability to be a spark but needs opportunities to show his talent.
Despite a large turnover at starting positions the Buckeyes will have players on the field with plenty of experience. Coach Tressel made it a point last season to get players on the field in meaningful situations rather than dumping the bench on the field in the fourth quarter of a game already out of hand. That strategy last year should pay off in 2007. The schedule is fairly weak this season compared to the previous two years. The non-conference features two MAC teams (Akron and Kent State) and Tressel’s former school, I-AA Youngstown State. The Buckeyes could get ten wins with the Wisconsin and Michigan games up in the air. The Wolverines are loaded this season, and the Buckeyes are without Troy Smith. November 17th could have as much impact on the National Championship as it did last year.