#1 Marcus Freeman 6-2, 242, So.
Stats: 53 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack, two interceptions
Freeman is not quite as fast as middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, but he still has a good size to speed ratio. He is more of a straight line player but is still decent moving laterally. He also has a very good build and can be a physical player when he wants to be. Freeman can be tied up by blockers and gives ground too often. He will often try to take the backdoor to the play, but he has enough closing speed to get away with it most of the time. He is a solid open field tackler, is good in coverage for his size, shows adequate range, and his awareness is improving. His effort could be better at times.
#55 Curtis Terry 6-2, 234, Jr.
Stats: 15 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss
Terry has seen quite a bit of playing time and offers a solid running option at strong side linebacker. He has enough athletic ability to fill in at weak side linebacker as well. Terry is an aggressive player who continues to improve game to game. He needs to unlock his hips more in coverage and doesn’t look comfortable overall defending the pass.
#52 John Kerr 6-1, 233, Sr.
Stats: 22 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss
Kerr hasn’t seen as much playing time because of being the odd man out in nickel packages. Given the amount of spread offenses Ohio State has faced, this has been the case quite a bit. Kerr does his best work against the run, particularly in pursuit. His short arms make it tougher for him to disengage and he needs a clean window to the play to make plays. He is a solid open field tackler and is a very smart player. He isn’t bad in coverage but doesn’t show outstanding range or awareness.
#51 Ross Homan 6-1, 237, Fr.
Stats: 28 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack
Homan has played as many if not more snaps than the starter Kerr. Homan is a pure football player. He is a very hard worker whose hustle puts him in a position to make plays. He made an outstanding play against Northern Illinois where he was knocked down, kicked in the head, and had a man on top of his legs, but still got up to chase down Garrett Wolfe downfield. He still shows his youth in coverage by getting too deep and not unlocking his hips to the play quick enough. He could show better overall awareness and seems to play the coverages too literally. Against the run, his shorter arms make it tougher for him to shed blocks, but he works hard and is improving in this area. Homan is a natural playmaker and is relentless in pursuit. He tackles very well for a youngster and has the tools to be an outstanding player in the future.
#33 James Laurinaitis 6-3, 244, So.
Stats: 91 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, five interceptions, three forced fumbles
Laurinaitis has really stepped up his play this season and is the top player of the defense. He often cleans up defensive mistakes by others and seems to always be in position to make a play. He is a very intense, high energy type player that will never take a down off. Laurinaitis is the star of the blitz packages and is a tough match-up for running backs. He isn’t nearly as physical as Anthony Schlegel or athletic as A.J. Hawk, but is a nice blend of the two. He shows excellent football intelligence and finds open lanes to the tackle. When he gets there, he is as sure a tackler as you'll find. He is also very solid in coverage, but not yet the cover man Hawk was. Laurinaitis shows good range but could play crossers better and seems one or two steps away from being an elite cover man. He is better at shedding blockers laterally than head on. Overall, Laurinaitis is an impact player who has had the best season of any Big Ten linebacker.
#6 Larry Grant 6-3, 225, Jr.
Stats: 18 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks
Grant is a developing linebacker that has intriguing size and speed. His knowledge of the technical aspects of the position is still developing. His high cut make lateral movement and head on block shedding tougher for him. He looks at his best playing the run and shows promise for the future in coverage.
Field Side Cornerback
#2 Malcolm Jenkins 6-1, 202, So.
Stats: 44 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions, three pass breakups
Jenkins is a more confident version of Ashton Youboty. He is a great sized corner that plays his responsibility in the cover three well. He is naturally athletic and won’t lose battles deep. He is the most physical of the Buckeye cornerbacks and plays with a lot of confidence. He has a knack for making plays and seems to be in good position quite often. Jenkins is a solid open field tackler. For his size, he should be better at shedding blocks. He struggles to get away from receivers at times on the wide side and disappears from run support for stretches. He is better at moving vertically than laterally. His man coverage footwork is a bit raw due to the amount of bail technique he plays in the cover three.
#13 Andre Amos 6-1, 180, Fr.
Stats: nine tackles, one interception
Amos has a very good size to speed ratio, but still shows some rawness at the position. Once he improves his awareness, physicality and overall feel for the position, he will be a good one down the road.
Boundary Side Cornerback:
#14 Antonio Smith 5-9, 195, Sr.
Stats: 58 tackles, nine tackles for loss, one sack, two interceptions
Smith doesn’t have great size, but makes up for it with exceptional speed and quickness. He has loose hips and solid recovery speed. He is somewhat of a jump ball liability in true cover three, but hasn’t been in put in that situation much this year. He plays the nickel cornerback against the spread and has seen more time in this role than as a true boundary corner. Numbers are deceiving when analyzing his run stopping ability. He is physically overmatched and really struggles to get off blocks. Smith is not a physical player and gives ground much of the time. He is better in space where he can use his quick feet to avoid defenders. He has decent awareness in underneath zone coverage, but quickness is what really makes him an asset here.
#20 Donald Washington 6-1, 195, RS Fr.
Stats: 32 tackles, one tackle for loss
Washington got a lot of experience playing the boundary cornerback this year due to the amount of spread offenses they have faced. He may be one of the more vulnerable cornerbacks since he does not have great awareness or lateral quickness. Washington hasn’t been a liability yet, but he hasn’t been tested by too many great quarterbacks either.
#32 Brandon Mitchell 6-3, 205, Sr.
Stats: 47 tackles, three tackles for loss, two interceptions
Mitchell is better at covering underneath zones and doesn’t have great range deep. He anticipates well underneath and plays all the coverage variations properly. Mitchell is a box player that will even lineup as a spare linebacker in some packages. He is a decent run supporter but should be better for his size. He is better at support outside-in rather than going inside-out.
#23 Nick Patterson 6-2, 210, So.
Stats: five tackles
Patterson Versatile safety that will likely only see action on special teams.
#3 Jamario O'Neal 6-1, 200, So.
Stats: 20 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, one interception
O'neal is a player with a lot of physical upside. He finally strung together some good performances lately. He plays very deep in the cover 3 scheme and usually isn’t involved in the play unless the ball is thrown deep. He rarely comes up in the box and hasn’t made much of an impact there. He has the best range of any Buckeye safety, and possibly any Buckeye defender period. His awareness and overall feel for the position are still developing, but the good news for Ohio State is that he is finally starting to live up to some of his great potential.
#8 Aaron Gant 6-0, 205, Fr.
Stats: nine tackles, one forced fumble
Gant has decent tools for the position, but shows little awareness in coverage. He needs to improve his technique.