#80 Chris Fields, WR
After being redshirted in his first season at Ohio State, Fields recorded only three catches last year, his first year of playing action. He will be competing with fellow receivers Corey “Philly” Brown, James Jackson and James Louis to help contribute during senior Devier Posey’s five-game suspension. Fields is a sure-handed receiver and will have ample opportunity this spring to earn a spot in the Buckeyes’ top three receivers when Posey returns.
#11 Dorian Bell, LB
Bell, a redshirt sophomore, enters the spring looking to finally break out. The 6-foot-1 linebacker from Monroeville, Pa., was ranked as a five-star recruit according to Rivals.com, but has mostly seen time as a special teams player thus far. With former linebackers Brian Rolle and Ross Homan leaving, Bell looks to finally harness his natural ability and become a force for the always stout Ohio State defense.
#32 Storm Klein, LB
Although mainly a special teams player in his first two seasons as a Buckeye, Klein is poised to earn significant playing time at the middle linebacker position following Brian Rolle’s graduation. Klein, a junior, opened the 2010 season with a hamstring injury that kept him out of Ohio State’s first two games. However, with no lingering effects, expect Klein to use his physical playing style to help solidify the Buckeye run defense.
#28 Dominic Clarke, DB
The secondary is one of the areas that took the biggest hits because of graduating seniors. With corners Chimdi Chekwa and Devon Torrence gone, Clarke will be among the slew of corners competing for two starting spots. Clarke recorded 14 tackles and one interception last season, and stepped in during the Sugar Bowl while injuries afflicted the secondary. Clarke recorded three tackles and helped limit Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett to a 51 percent completion. The Frederick, Md., native and redshirt sophomore has speed that could put him above the rest.
#4 C.J. Barnett , DB
Barnett started off strong last year at safety for the Buckeyes, but injured his right knee the second game of the season against Miami (Fla.) on Sept. 11, 2010 and surgery sidelined him for the rest of the year. The junior is ready to step back into his starting role this spring after the departure of graduate Jermale Hines and be a big play threat for a largely inexperienced defense. At 6 feet, 190 pounds, Barnett has the tenacity to make an impact from the start of the season. The Dayton, Ohio, native recorded 65 tackles at Northmont High School and was named first-team All-Ohio.
#52 Johnathan Hankins, DL
The 6-foot-3, 335-pound Hankins might be the biggest body on the Buckeye defense. The sophomore earned his way into the defensive line rotation as a freshman, and will look to earn a starting spot this season with the departure of seniors Cameron Heyward and Dexter Larimore. Hankins’ size and athleticism allow him to play both inside and outside. However, stamina appeared to be an issue as his freshman season progressed.
#78 Andrew Norwell, OL
As senior Mike Adams serves a five-game suspension, sophomore Norwell will compete for his spot at left tackle. Norwell, a Cincinnati native, was the No. 2 overall ranked offensive tackle in the 2010 recruiting class, according to Scout.com. The 6-foot-5, 308-pound lineman likely will compete with redshirt sophomore Marcus Hall for the spot. Norwell filled in at right tackle last season, while starter J.B. Shugarts was injured.
#24 Rod Smith, RB
With starter Dan “Boom” Herron suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season, the player getting the most hype to fill his void is redshirt freshman Smith. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound back electrified the media, coaching staff and players during practice before the 2011 Sugar Bowl. The Fort Wayne, Ind., native did not join the team until after fall camp because he was academically ineligible.
#10 Corey Brown, WR
With senior DeVier Posey suspended for the first five games of the regular season, and the graduation of Dane Sanzenbacher, there’s no doubt Ohio State is thin at the wide receiver position. But sophomore Brown hopes to fill that void. The 5-foot-11 speedster from Upper Darby, Pa., got his feet wet last season, catching seven passes and even scoring a touchdown. Brown has an opportunity to be a primary target for whoever ends up playing the quarterback position and also figures to be a factor on punt returns.