Forecasting the breakout freshmen on defense

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The football season is only a week away and it can't come soon enough for any college football fan. The Buckeyes would be one of the favorites in the Big Ten this season if they were eligible to win the league and move on, but that doesn't mean that this team and the individuals on it still can't be successful.

For the next week, the staff at will be taking a stab at predicting how the 2012 Ohio State football season will play out. These predictions include educated guesses about everything from who will lead the Buckeyes in major statistical categories to which players will have breakout seasons. Today, we do our best to forecast with freshmen on the defensive side of the ball will emerge as rising stars.

Kevin Noon - Publisher

Freshman defensive end Noah Spence will emerge as a rising star on the defensive side of the ball

I really believe that Spence would be good enough to start for most teams in the Big Ten as a true freshman from day one. Ohio State's defensive line is just so good that Spence will not be able to start but he will see plenty of playing time. He is just a player that has taken like a fish to water and it will be hard for the coaches not to get him out there in the rotation.

Ben Axelrod - Lead Team Writer

Freshman defensive back Najee Murray will emerge as a rising star on the defensive side of the ball

At the Big Ten media days in Chicago, Urban Meyer expressed a desire to try Murray at the very important 'pivot' position on the offensive side of the ball. However, after just one week of camp, Meyer admitted that he had ultimately decided against trying Murray on offense, because his talent was too good to take away from defense.

The fact that Meyer was unwilling to try Murray at one of the most important positions in his offense tells you all you need to know about the Steubenville native's talents on defense. With the ability to play both safety and cornerback, Murray should find himself on the field immediately in his freshman season, and he's also looked good as a punt returner throughout the Buckeyes' fall camp.

Marc Givler - Recruiting Analyst

Freshman defensive end Noah Spence will emerge as a rising star on the defensive side of the ball

The choice on defense was much more difficult but by all accounts Spence has had a monster fall camp and should see a ton of playing time this season. While everyone expects senior Nathan Williams to be full-go this fall, that is still a fairly unpredictable situation and Spence gives the Buckeyes an explosive edge rusher, one of the few areas on defense where the Buckeyes don't have an abundance of riches.

Jeremy Birmingham - Team Writer

Freshman defensive back Devan Bogard will emerge as a rising star on the defensive side of the ball

With a group of very talented incoming freshman on the defensive side of the ball, the choice for breakout defensive freshman will likely end with the words Spence or Adolphus Washington uttered by most, and with good reason. Spence and Washington are perhaps as talented as any incoming freshman defensive lineman at Ohio State in the last decade, and maybe even longer. Spence brings a pure end rusher to a Buckeye defense in need of elite speed off the edge, and Washington's size and speed combination could be a nightmare for interior lineman around the Big Ten.
However, my choice for breakout defensive freshman is the former Cleveland Glenville safety Bogard, who will look to continue the tradition of Tarblooder safeties at Ohio State following in the footsteps of Donte Whitner, Jermale Hines and current Buckeye Christian Bryant. The Buckeyes have talent at safety, but certainly are not as deep in that spot as they are along the defensive line, and Bogard - the first Buckeye freshman to lose their freshman "stripe" this summer - has impressed the staff with his dedication to his teammates and his desire to get better every day. If that trend continues - or if Bryant struggles like he did a bit a year ago - Bogard might get a chance to make a serious impression when it matters the most: on the playing field.
Tom Levenick - Time and Change Contributor/Former Player

Freshman defensive lineman Adolphus Washington will emerge as a rising star on the defensive side of the ball

Washington is currently playing behind starter, Johnathan Hankins at defensive tackle. He is a terrific pass rusher and is learning daily at his new defensive tackle position. He has the size, strength and speed to dominate. He will be on the field consistently and I believe will end up OSU's defensive freshman of the year.