Ohio State has been known for great linebacker play, which makes the last two seasons of play at the position all the more disappointing.
At one point last season, OSU converted FB Zach Boren into a linebacker because of the lack of success at the position.
It doesn't make things easier this season that both David Perkins and Luke Roberts decided to transfer this summer after just one year in the program. Ryan Shazier is the only returning starter. The only other LBs on the roster with experience in the Buckeyes' base defense are Camren Williams, Curtis Grant and Josh Perry.
That means the pressure will be on the Buckeyes' freshmen linebackers, namely Trey Johnson and Mike Mitchell, to step in right away and contribute something to the team.
The depth at the position is nowhere near what it has been in the past. It's going to take these two freshmen to provide some help to the starters. Luckily, Johnson and Mitchell both bring strong pedigrees to OSU as well as being in college-ready physical shape.
Both of them are going to need to step in right away and contribute to the Ohio State defense.
If this team is going to compete for a national championship, it needs to shore up its weakest position.
OSU's linebacker play has been very inconsistent the last two years and doesn't seem to be looking much brighter anytime soon. Grant was expected to be the next star last season, but he fell out of the rotation just about a month into the season. Perry and Williams contributed some, and each had their moments as true freshmen.
Now, it's up to Johnson and Mitchell to step up. They will be thrown into the two-deep from Day 1.
Freshmen are now expected to contribute immediately and have big impacts for teams that expect to win national championships. Urban Meyer is not afraid to play freshmen if he thinks they can make big impacts.
They need to have an impact more than any other positional group of freshmen this season.
If they do, it will help the Buckeyes' defense stay fresh and provide some depth to the linebackers which just hasn't been there lately.
If either one can have an impact opposite Shazier, that would be the best-case scenario and a big step to solidifying OSU's defense as championship-caliber.
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