Any devoted Ohio State fan will be able to look at this year's squad and rattle off names of players on defense like Bradley Roby, or John Simon, or Johnathan Hankins.
Each of those players have established themselves as stellar defenders and are well-respected for their hard play. How can someone suggest that the Buckeyes lack a star on defense?
Easily. Think about what the "star" term has traditionally meant to Ohio State defense over the past decade.
Within Buckeye parlance, a "star" is a versatile defensive position, designed to counter against teams that run spread offenses. A "star" is a linebacker/safety hybrid, capable of defending the run and pass equally well.
Think about Tyler Moeller, who concluded his career at Ohio State last season. Moeller was recruited as a linebacker out of Cincinnati Colerain, listed at 6'1", 200 lbs. coming out of high school. Moeller was too light to play linebacker down after down, yet not completely comfortable about playing safety in obvious passing situations.
Now that we have figured out what type of player who manned this position in the past, why not take a look at Ohio State's current roster to see who is manning that position presently?
[Insert cricket chirping sound...]
Two players from the 2010 recruiting class who were supposed to evolve into this position are no longer on the roster, which will hopefully make sense of my cricket chirping point from up above. Scott McVey and Chad Hagan were originally meant to play this star position. Scott McVey's listed physical characteristics as McVey was coming out of Cleveland St. Ignatius to Ohio State were very comparable to Tyler Moeller. Chad Hagan's listed physical characteristics were the same type- a little heavier than either Tyler Moeller or Scott McVey, but someone who the previous coaching regime believed could fill the star position for Ohio State.
Okay, so Tyler Moeller's eligibility has expired, and Scott McVey and Chad Hagan are no longer on the roster. Is there any hope for Ohio State's roster with the star position?
Christian Bryant could be a possibility. Bryant actually played the star position for Ohio State before.
During the 2010 season, Tyler Moeller went down with an injury, forcing Bryant into fulfilling Moeller's role on the defense. Even as a true freshman, Bryant was capable of playing the star position. Bryant has been starting at safety, but perhaps could be moved to the star position going forward.
Perhaps the question is not a matter of personnel, but more a matter of coaching. After all, the star position was used by Coach Tressel's defensive staff, and only Coach Luke Fickell remains from that staff on Coach Meyer's coaching staff.
Coach Everett Withers is also responsible with Coach Fickell for the coordination of the Ohio State defense. New to the coaching staff this season, Coach Kerry Coombs also assists Coach Withers with coaching the secondary. Something to keep in mind is that Coach Coombs was Tyler Moeller's head coach at Cincinnati Colerain - perhaps Coach Coombs could identify either Christian Bryant or another player on the roster who could play the star role in the same manner that Tyler Moeller used to for the Buckeyes.
Am I attacking the coaching staff for how the staff is using their players? No. Am I suggesting that mistakes are being made? Not at all.
What I am suggesting is that Ohio State has struggled on defense this season, especially against teams that run the spread offense. I am suggesting that Ohio State will be facing one of those teams this coming Saturday when Purdue University comes into Ohio Stadium. Just as a reminder, Purdue has defeated Ohio State twice over the last three seasons. And I am suggesting that the star position has worked against spread offenses in the past, and perhaps could this season.
Who knows? Maybe if Ohio State decides to bring this position back, Buckeye fans will be seeing a "star" flying across the FieldTurf in Ohio Stadium.