Monday, July 18, 2011

Matt Chandik's Ohio State Player to Watch

Ohio State has always been considered one of the best schools for a defensive player to go to. The Buckeyes always seem to produce top-flight defenses and usually have a name or two in consideration for All-America honors. Aside from cornerback, there may not be a more prestigious position on the OSU defense than linebacker. The Buckeyes have produced good to great college linebackers since, well, forever, and this year should be no different.

Etienne Sabino should be the next in a long line of strong Buckeye linebackers. The highly-touted recruit from Florida hasn’t done much in his first three years in Columbus, but he’s fresh off of a redshirt year designed to cause separation for himself from a loaded OSU linebacker group.

Sabino reportedly impressed onlookers during spring practice and seems to be the lone OSU LB with a vicegrip on a starting job. He’s blessed with prototypical size at 6-3, 230 pounds, and moves very well for a linebacker. His career so far has been highlighted by a return of a blocked punt for a touchdown as a freshman and six tackles and a half-sack as a sophomore before he redshirted last year. Sabino was part of the much heralded 2008 Ohio State class, a class that ranked No. 1 on but has since somewhat underachieved.

Expect Sabino to take a big leap forward this year. The departure of NFL-bound linebackers Brian Rolle and Ross Homan creates a void that needs to be filled, and Sabino should be the guy. Fellow ‘08er Andrew Sweat is expected to be another contributor, but Sabino has a better shot of being a star. He and Sweat will man the LB spots and Tyler Moeller should jump in as a safety-linebacker hybrid. I expect Sabino to make a push to become one of the better LBs in the Big 10. 84 tackles, 5.5 for loss, three sacks, one interception.

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