Taking a look at the 2009 defensive depth chart for the Ohio State football team. Based on the depth chart of the team at the end of the 2008 season, player turnover and the recent 2009 signed recruiting class.
Defensive Tackle: The Buckeyes have a very good defensive line returning which is not the norm in recent years. At tackle they have four players that all got significant playing time last season including Cameron Heyward, Doug Worthington, Todd Denlinger, and Dexter Larimore. In addition the team has two red-shirt freshmen in Willie Mobley and Garrett Goebel and two true freshmen with Jon Simon and Adam Ballamy. They should be solid up-front with the ability to rotate players generously.
Defensive End: The team also has four returning ends all with a good amount of experience. Lawrence Wilson returns one more time with the hope of staying healthy and making a contribution late into the season. Thaddeus Gibson had a breakout season last year and will start at the other end position. Nathan Williams and Robert Rose both saw a good amount of time on the field late in the 2008 season and should be rotated in often to relieve the starters. At least four more players will be competing at the position when fall camp opens.
Outside Linebacker: The team lost two very good linebackers in Marcus Freeman and James Laurinaitis but Ross Homan returns with additional help from Tyle Moeller, Brian Rolle, and Andrew Sweat on the outside. Dorian Bell and Storm Klein both come to Ohio State as blue-chip recruits and should both see the field in some capacity as freshmen. Homan and Moeller are my picks for starters and the Sam and Will linebacker positions.
Middle Linebacker: Austin Spitler is a senior already and after sitting behind Laurinaitis a good part of his career will get his chance to start in the middle. Etienne Sabino was regarded as one of the best linebackers in the country when he committed to Ohio State last year and could push for playing time. Freshman Jordan Whiting has the tools to play but may sit out the year giving him an extra year after Sabino graduates.
Cornerback: If you're a Buckeye fan and you're not worried a little about who's playing cornerback in 2009, you haven't taken a look at the depth chart. Chimdi Chekwa returns with a good number of starts but behind him is a complete unknown. Andre Amos is a senior but has not seen the field at the cornerback position, Donnie Evege could emerge but his talent is unknown, same for Travis Howard who came with Sabino from Miami Dr Krop High School as a 4 star recruit and 19th best corner in the country last year. Three new highly recruited corners enter the fray as freshmen; CJ Barnett, Corey Brown, and Dominic Clarke. The Ohio State coaching staff hopes they have 4 good corners out of this group seven.
Safety: Unlike corner, the safety position is not a concern which should allow Ohio State some learning time in the defensive backfield. Kurt Coleman and Anderson Russell both return as starters from last year. Aaron Gant and Jermale Hines played very well last year and Hines should continue to play in the Nickle this coming year. Five more young safeties are on the roster playing most of their time on special teams in 2009.