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2009 Linebacker Discussion

Discussion in 'Buckeye Football' started by osugrad21, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. osugrad21

    osugrad21 Capo Regime Staff Member

    For 2009...
    NightmaresDad likes this.
  2. Buckeye86

    Buckeye86 I do not choose to discuss it

    Just a quick rundown because I feel like it and as always I am really excited and optimistic for Ohio State football next year.

    Austin Spitler
    RS Senior #38
    6'3" 234 lbs.

    GP:35 solo:21 assisted:23 tfl:3 sack:1

    Spitler has been patiently sitting behind Laurinaitis on the depth chart for three years and has been a solid (despite some crucial late hits) special teams contributor throughout that time.

    Spitler is the heir apparent at middle linebacker but will be pushed by the younger guys all year. Spitler has the size and strength to be solid in run defense but may lack the mobility needed to excel in pass covereage. It would be great to see Spitler finish his Buckeye career strong with an outstanding senior season after being burried on the depth chart for so long.

    Ross Homan
    Senior #51
    6'0" 229 lbs.

    GP:30 solo:56 assisted:51 tfl:10 sack:2 int:1

    Homan has the most starting experience of all of the returning linebackers despite missing most of the 2007 season due to injury. He was a starter at outside linebacker for all of 2008 and was the fifth leading tackler on the team with 67 total tackles, including 6 tackles for loss and a sack.

    He has been in the shadow of Laurinaitis and Freeman for most of his career but is more than capable of having a standout senior year in 2009 as the only returning starter at linebacker. You can pencil him in at one of the outside linebacker positions for 2009.

    Tyler Moeller
    RS Junior #26
    6'0" 216 lbs.

    GP:23 solo:11 assisted:15 tfl:3 ff:1

    Moeller has been floating back and forth between safety and linebacker so far in his Buckeye career and hasn't been able to establish himself solidly at either position yet. Despite this, his tenacity, speed, and nose for the ball make it hard to envisions him not seeing the field in some capacity this upcoming year. He will be a major contender to fill the outside linebacker positions opposite Homan.

    Brian Rolle
    Junior #36
    5'11" 221 lbs.

    GP:25 solo:18 assisted:21 tfl:3 sack:1 int:1

    Another major player in the battle to fill an outside linebacker position. Despite his lack of ideal size for a linebacker, Rolle is fast, hits like a Mack truck, and was an absolute monster on special teams in 2008. He could see time as a situational player (along with Moeller) in passing situations or against spread offenses due to his quickness and speed.

    Jermale Hines
    Junior #7
    6'2" 210 lbs.

    GP:18 solo:25 assisted:9 tfl:2

    Hines spent most of his time in 2008 playing the nickel back position and will likely do so again in 2009 due to a lack of depth at cornerback. However, his proven ability as a solid tackler with the speed to cover the field sideline to sideline (he had 23 solo tackles in 2008) make it difficult to rule him out of the competition for an outside linebacker spot.

    Etienne Sabino
    Sophomore #11
    6'3" 232 lbs.

    GP:13 solo:4 assisted:2

    Sabino played in every game as a true freshman in 2008, mostly contributing on special teams. He was one of the top linebackers in the country out of high school and is going to make a strong push for the starting spot at middle linebacker. Even if Sabino doesn't win the starting middle linebacker position, it is difficult to see him not recieving significant playing time, and he could even push for starting time at one of the outside linebacker positons. Sabino probably has the most NFL potential of any linebacker currently on OSU's roster.

    Andrew Sweat
    Sophomore #42
    6'2" 220 lbs.

    GP:9 solo:2 assisted:3

    Another player who contributed mostly on special teams as a true freshman in 2008. Has the potential to be a standout outside linebacker in the future, but due to the depth chart might not be able to shine for another year or two. Sweat has the skills (if not the experience) to be a starter and will be pushing for playing time all year.

    Dorian Bell
    6'0" 227 lbs.


    Bell is one of the top high school players in the country at any position, not just linebacker. He will compete for a starting spot as a true freshman and it would be a shock to see him redshirt.

    Storm Klein
    6'3" 220 lbs.


    Jordan Whiting
    6'0" 230 lbs.


    Both Klein and Whiting are highly regarded linebackers coming out of high school, but due to the depth chart may be redshirted in 2009. Still, it would not be a surprise at all if both made significant contributions immediately on special teams.

    feel free to critique, add to, or criticize the above

    photos from:,,,
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2009
    kinch, WaitingforKickoff and daveeb like this.
  3. Easily the most interesting position battle because if the OL isn't Adams, Boren, Brewster, Cordle, and Shugarts we'll all probably be dissapointed.

    On to the candidates, height/weight from Rivals:

    Austin Spilter 6'3/220, 5th year senior, primary reserve MLB in 07 and 08
    Ross Homan 6'0/229, 4th year junior, staring WLB in 08
    Tyler Moeller 6'0/216 4th year junior, reserve OLB and Star in 08
    Brian Rolle 5'11/221 junior, reserve OLB in 08
    Etienne Sabino 6'3/232 sophomore, reserve MLB in 08
    Andrew Sweat 6'2/220 sophomore

    Freshman aren't included because it's not even signing day and Freshman don't typically start at LB outside of injury at Ohio State.

    The only obvious starter for 09 is the only returning starter, Ross Homan, but where? Homan started at WILL last year and has the speed and athletic versitality to play any of the 3 linebacker positions, but moves to MLB don't usually happen this late in the career of a Buckeye. Movement from weakside to strongside, however has recent history when last year the most experienced outside linebacker, Marcus Freeman, moved from WILL to SAM after Larry Grant graduated. SAM requires more responsibility and knowledge than the WILL in Jim Heacock's defense, making Ross the likely strongside starter.

    The 2 most likely candidates for the other OLB, most likely WLB are Tyler Moeller and Brian Rolle. Moeller saw plenty of action in 08 at the star position during Jer'male Hines injury as well as back up linebacker primarily on passing downs where he is a deadly blitzer and solid in coverage. Rolle is human missile waiting to detonate ball carriers that come across his path. Rolle was not memorable last year for his play in coverage. This could actually end up being a time-share with Rolle playing on likely run downs and Moeller in on passing downs. Moeller could still see plenty of time at the star position as well next year. Andrew Sweat will likely factor in the 2 deep at one of the OLB positions.

    Middle linebacker will be probably be the most interesting battle on the team. The only 2 candidates with MIKE experience at the college level are Austin Spitler and Etienne Sabino. 5th year senior vs true sophomore. Old vs new. Spitler has been All American James Laurinaitis' primary back-up for 2 years and has seen plenty of snaps with the 2nd team defense, but rarely came on the field when the outcome was still in doubt. When on the field Spitler has been both solid against the run and the pass while not performing spectacilurly. Spilter is said to know the system but questions arise as to whether he is atletically able to meet the demands of being a Buckeye linebacker after not forcing a spot on the field on the outside. Sabino on the other hand might be the most athletically gifted linebacker on the team after signing on in 2008 as part of the highly decorated "Brew Crew" recruiting class. Sabino was rated highly by all the recruiting services. Sabino saw some action as a freshman, but didn't get many snaps at LB. Utlimately though Spitler should win the starting job with Sabino seening plenty of action as well.

    Likely 2-Deep
    WLB Rolle/ Moeller
    MLB Spitler, Sabino
    SLB Homan, Sweat
  4. ginn421

    ginn421 Think Long

    I think Sabino will be too good to keep off the field, and will bump over to SAM, keeping Homan at WILL. Moeller stays at Nickel/Hybrid, and Rolle comes in during obvious passing downs...

    WLB: Homan, Rolle, Bell
    MLB: Spitler, Sabino
    SLB: Sabino, Sweat, Klein/Whiting

    Spitler/Sabino could be interchangable at MLB and SLB depending on how either does in coverage (something which the starters don't really look like they will excel, compared to Freeman and Laurinaitis).

    Also, isn't Homan a RS-Jr. to-be after missing most of 2007 due to turf toe?

    EDIT: On second thought, he did play up until the Washington game, so that wouldn't make him eligible for a regular redshirt...would he be granted a medical redshirt because of it?
  5. Buckeye86

    Buckeye86 I do not choose to discuss it

    According to the official site, Homan played in four games in 2007. According to the BP scholarship chart (which is what I went off of) he has one year of eligibility left. According to the official site, he had sophomore eligibility this year, giving him two more years left. I'm not sure what the deal is, but it seems like maybe he did receive a medical redshirt for the 2007 season.
    ginn421 likes this.
  6. Homan: lock to start.
    Moeller: have to get on the field. Very fast and tenacious in pursuit and blitzes well.
    Sabino: has the size and speed to succeed.

    Spitler: quality backup at MLB.
    Rolle: quality backup at weak side.
    Sweat: looking forward to see how he progresses this spring.

    The freshmen can wait in line. :biggrin:
  7. buck2006

    buck2006 Newbie

    Homan will be a RS Jr next year. I also think if they were going to move him to SLB they would have this year. I could see a move to MLB, but my guess is he will be the WLB starter for the next two years. I think Spitler, Sabino, and Moeller will battle for the two other spots. All three will play a lot. Rolle will back up Homan at the WLB spot.
  8. Taosman

    Taosman Wrongfully Ejected

    This is an exciting group of youngsters with what on paper, looks like more speed! A solid D line could allow these guys to make big plays with their speed. If turned lose they could create a lot of turnovers and negative plays.
  9. BuckTwenty

    BuckTwenty Parties with Pete Johnson's Beard

    Sabino's a great talent and will be a star here at OSU, but at this point Spitler's the favorite to man the middle. No player on the team knows the position better than him, he's paid his dues, the coaches love him, and he's ready. Ask McGuffie.

    If one of those guys wants the position over him, they're going to have the kind of offseason that Laurinaitis had between his freshman and sophomore years. Not to say that can't happen or that Spitler's a lock, but if Sabino, Moeller, Rolle, Hines et al. want to be the starter opening day against Navy, they've got their work cut out for them. Pretty sure I'm not the only one that heard this, but pre-bowl game, I heard the staff was considering moving Sabino to OLB to get the best 3 LBs on the field at the same time next year. No matter what happens, the coaches will put the best 3 on the field and at this point, Spit looks to be one of those 3.

    That said, I think the guys are going to rotate a lot more in games this year than the last couple years, where Lauinaitis & Freeman saw the vast majority of the playing time at LB because how well they defended the pass. Looking forward to the battle this spring to see who is best in coverage out of those guys and sees the field when we're in a nickle defense (one could be Hines, but he too has to get better in his pass coverage). Also looking forward to the freshman battling to get into the two deep. I'm having visions of those guys flying down the field on special teams ala Sabino & Rolle.

    I can't wait for spring. There's gonna be some hitting goin' on.
    buckeyes_rock likes this.
  10. daveeb

    daveeb Newbie

    Spitler will see a lot of playing time against teams like Wisconsin and Michigan State. He will obviously see a lot of playing time during The Game as well, and on Senior Day. Against teams like Illinois, I expect Sabino to see a lot of playing time. Sabino covers the spread, Spitler smashes the I-Form for the O-H-I-O.

    I like the idea of Moeller getting a starting spot. He had a huge game against Illinois. Homan is a fo-sho starter. It wouldn't surprise me to see Brian Rolle or Andrew Sweat compete for a starting spot as well.

    Either way, it should be a good year for tOSU linebackers. We are stacked at the LB spots. So, no matter what, we should have three quality guys at the LB positions.
  11. MililaniBuckeye

    MililaniBuckeye The satanic soulless freight train that is Ohio St Staff Member Tech Admin

    I'll check and update the chart if needed.
  12. Mac

    Mac That's a pain in the buns

    I am very excited to see what Sabino can bring to the table this upcoming year. I think he's the next top of the notch LB that will come through this program.

    I think starting 3, as of right now is, Sabino, Spitler, Homan. But wouldn't be surprised to see Moeller get a bunch of PT.
  13. Electron Boy

    Electron Boy PANCAKE

    i think it is absoultely critical that moeller either starts or has significant playing time. if given the reps i am certain he will prove to be a force on defense coming off the edge, given his speed and tenacity. the same goes for rolle; i know some people are wary of these guys because they lack "ideal" size, but i'm extremely high on them for two reasons: 1, when you have a dropoff in senior leadship at a position you need spark plug type guys to fill the vacancy (which moeller and rolle definitely are) and 2, they are both deceptively tough in coverage (not deceptive to us, but i promise other teams won't know who moeller is untill he socres some picks off of them).

    i think moeller should start, along with homan and sabino. that gives us a good run stopping tandem and a coverage guy who can make lazy QBs pay
  14. Buckeye86

    Buckeye86 I do not choose to discuss it

    other than the necessity of scoring more points than the other team, I don't think anything is absolutely critical on the football field, especially not who starts or doesn't start
    BUCKYLE likes this.
  15. Electron Boy

    Electron Boy PANCAKE

    i think it's absolutely critical that you don't worry so much about some slight hyperbolizing
    Buck94 likes this.

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