July 11, 2013

The Replacements: Orhian Johnson

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The start of fall camp is nearly a month away, but the Ohio State football team is already focused on putting together its second consecutive undefeated season. To do that, however, the Buckeyes will be forced to replace some key contributors to their 2012 squad that accumulated a perfect 12-0 record.



In the coming weeks, we'll take a look at the voids that OSU will try to fill, and the candidates who will attempt to do so. Today, we continue with the Buckeyes' nickelback position.



What they're replacing


After starting his senior season on the Buckeyes' bench, Orhian Johnson replaced Corey Brown as the team's starting nickelback just one game into the 2012 season. Johnson held onto the position for the remainder of the season, recording 39 tackles and defending nine passes -- including two interceptions.



Named the 'Star' position in Ohio State's defensive scheme, the Buckeyes' nickelback must possess versatility, and the ability to cover wide receivers like a cornerback, and defend the run like a linebacker. In past years, OSU nickelbacks have included Jermale Hines and Tyler Moeller.



The frontrunner


After redshirting in 2012, Tyvis Powell emerged in spring practice this offseason to take hold of the Buckeyes' starting nickelback position. At 6-foot-3, 201 pounds, Powell possesses the size you look for in a nickelback, as well as the athleticism.



A former three-star prospect, the development of Powell has come much to the delight of OSU head coach Urban Meyer, who named Powell one of spring practice's pleasant surprises. It remains to be seen whether or not he'll be able to hold onto his starting spot, but it looks as though he'll be a contributor in 2013, which is more than could've been said about him a year ago.



The X-factor


Powell's main competition for the 'Star' position will come from a fellow freshman in first-year player Vonn Bell. The five-star prospect arrives at Ohio State with high expectations, and the Buckeyes coaching staff has named the nickelback position as one that he could play right away.



Bell is listed at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, but all indications thus far have been that he's added weight since his playing days at Ridgeland high school in Rossville, Ga. Bell figures to make an instant impact in his college career, and playing at a position named the 'Star' could be a precursor of things to come for him.



Other candidates:
Devan Bogard, Najee Murray, Adam Griffin, Christopher Worley, Darron Lee, Cameron Burrows.







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