Most Important Buckeyes: No. 16
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — With the start of fall camp a mere days away, we have been counting down the Top 20 Most Important Buckeyes of the 2012 season.
We opened with a couple special teamers among our first players on the countdown, but things are really starting to ramp up with a look at one of the Buckeyes key returning starters on defense.
The 2011 season was one with many ups and downs for everyone at Ohio State, and that was especially true of safety Christian Bryant, who comes in at No. 16 on our list of Most Important Buckeyes.
What Makes Him Important?
Photo by Jim Davidson
One of the most boisterous members of the OSU defense, Bryant seemed to be just a few steps away from a breakout sophomore season with the Buckeyes. He finished third on the team in tackles with 68 stops a year ago. That put him behind only C.J. Barnett and Andrew Sweat, but Bryant also had a problematic time adjusting to life as a full-time safety on the back end of Ohio State’s defense.
Looking back at Bryant’s season a year ago, it’s easy to see why the Buckeyes struggled to get stops on defense. A big-hitter from Glenville, Bryant has always been a bit of a gambler, and it really came back to bite him a few times on big plays.
Whether he’s playing deep safety or in the nickel at the “Star” position, Bryant is a key component for the 2012 defense because he is one of the true playmakers on that side of the ball. At 5-10, 190 pounds, he has the ability to cover a wide receiver and the capability of bringing down a back like Montee Ball.
What Can be Expected of Him?
If we knew exactly what to expect from Bryant in 2012, he would probably have been a lot higher on our list. He had eight pass deflections a year ago, but zero picks. That has to change in 2012 if the Buckeyes are going to turn things around defensively.
The main thing Bryant has to work on is learning when to gamble and when to play it safe. New safeties coach Everett Withers has to work with him on when to go for the big hit, but he should have a much better feel for that aspect of the game in his second year as a full-time starter.
What Would the Buckeyes do Without Him?
The Buckeyes have other options at safety, but nobody with the playmaking potential Bryant brings every time he steps on the field. Fifth-year senior Orhian Johnson will likely see some time at deep safety next this year, but this team needs Bryant to play at a high level.
He was second on the team in solo tackles a year ago, and with Tyler Moeller now gone, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them bring Bryant down closer to the line of scrimmage at that “Star” position. That’s where he seems to play his best football, and without him, the Buckeyes don’t really have a guy with any experience at that position.
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