LB James Laurinaitis

2006 Statistics

Coach: Jim Tressel
62-14, 6 years
2006 Record: 12-1
at Texas WON 24-7
at Iowa WON 38-17
at Michigan State WON 38-7
at Illinois WON 17-10
at Northwestern WON 54-10
Florida LOST 14-41

2006 Final Rankings
AP-2, Coaches-2, BCS-1

2007 Outlook

No one will dispute that the huge turnover amongst the talent positions should impact the Buckeye offense and what they can run. Losing your Heisman Trophy winning quarterback can do that. But what most needs replacing is the leadership Smith, Ginn, Pittman and White used to buoy the team’s drive when it sagged. Assuredly, such leaders are already in place. They just need the heat of battle to genuinely emerge from the coffers of eager top recruits that head coach Jim Tressel has amassed. The likely new QB starter, three-year apprentice Todd Boeckman, has to hold off two worthy competitors - emerging from the pack as an upperclassman who had to earn his place will trickle down to promote the workman-like ethics that Ohio State has survived on for decades. Wells & Wells – Chris and Maurice - will provide the running dimension needed so the capable signal callers can find added success due to LBs and safeties committed to the box. The defense can survive the turnover on its line to likely produce a top 25 run stopping unit. But most will be watching to see how well the D rebounds from their last two shellackings. Michigan and Florida scored 80 points together after the Buckeyes had allowed only 86 points to their first 11 foes. What was a young, reformed stopping unit now has to be hungry to reclaim its prowess/swagger. But the D must keep their last five games of ‘07 in relative focus as they beat up on early cupcakes so as to avoid a collapse once the conference’s elite come a’ callin’. Expect some closer defensive battles (at Washington) as the offense tunes up. We hate to say what true fans (like GG and Danny) probably hate to hear, but 2008 looks a lot more promising for how far the Buckeyes ultimately get than this year. Ergo, a BCS wildcard has to be considered a legitimate goal for this capital team that will still linger in the top five for most of the year.

Projected 2007 record: 10-2
QB - 3 DL - 3.5
RB - 3.5 LB - 4.5
WR - 3.5 DB - 4
OL - 4 ..

Passing: Todd Boeckman, 2-3-0, 19 yds., 0 TD

Rushing: Chris Wells, 104 att., 576 yds., 7 TD

Receiving: Brian Robiskie, 29 rec., 383 yds., 5 TD

Scoring: Aaron Pettrey, 8-11 FG, 55-58 PAT, 79 pts.

Punting: A.J. Trapasso, 49 punts, 40.6 avg.

Kicking: Aaron Pettrey, 8-11 FG, 55-58 PAT, 79 pts.

Tackles: James Laurinaitis, 115 tot., 53 solo

Sacks: Vernon Gholston, 8.5 sacks

Interceptions: James Laurinaitis, 5 for 56 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Jamario O'Neal, 2 ret., 24.0 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns:
Malcolm Jenkins, 2 ret., 3.5 avg., 0 TD


RB Chris Wells
OFFENSE: Troy Smith-QB, Justin Zwick-QB, Stan White-FB, Roy Hall-WR, Tim Schafer-OT, Doug Datish-C, T.J. Downing-OG, Ted Ginn-WR (NFL), Anthony Gonzalez-WR (NFL), Antonio Pittman-RB (NFL)
DEFENSE: Jay Richardson-DE, David Patterson-DT, Quinn Pitcock-DT, Antonio Smith-WLB, John Kerr-WLB, Brandon Mitchell-SS

Troy Smith has left the Horseshoe…but wait, so has Justin Zwick and nearly every talent position player that has helped to define the Buckeyes for the past few years. For most teams, that would mean huge steps back, but for coach Tressel, it is just another year when the turnover can be managed to likely produce a powerful offense. Officially, the QB slot was open in spring, yet the likelihood of three year understudy Todd Boeckman not being the starter come fall is slim. This St. Henry-native was the fastest Buckeye hurler in camp last year, so expect to see his feet used to help set up the passing game as LBs are drawn out of position. At 6’5 and 235 pounds, Boeckman can stand solid in the pocket and rifle it downfield with his efficient delivery. The only downside to either other candidate (dual-threat Henton or 6’6 pro-style hurler Schoenhoft) is the lack of experience in the Buckeye system…and time and reps, given the huge potential of each, could elicit OSU’s future field general (the same way an injured Zwick was all Smith needed to secure his stellar career). The running game should be fine with much of the line back and last year’s top national RB recruit ready for the workload. Chris Wells unloads a thunderous burst on potential tacklers as easily as he runs right by them, and Maurice Wells (no relation), the No.2 OSU back in 2005, will be utilized often from the same spot. Critical will be local ex-wrestling champ Dionte Johnson taking over at fullback for perennial pusher Stan White. Psst…coach Tressel…Johnson was on the 4x100 relay team that won regionals, so maybe you can break your longstanding policy of not giving the FB any carries. Further more, the Buckeyes have to hope Jim Cordle and/or Conner Smith, last year’s No.4 center prospect, can embrace the needs at the blocking helm for the line to be at its best again. Senior Kirk Barton and junior Alex Boone are sure to make some preseason All-American lists at tackle; both are huge guys with superior footwork. Ben Person inherits the right guard spot, where he has apprenticed for three years, so that new face to the starting five shouldn’t be of concern. The open competition at receiver sees junior Brian Robiskie leading the way for a pretty green group. Also 6’3, Brian Hartline of North Canton is a solid fixture at No.2, but beyond that, sorting out other role players will happen in due time with real game reps. TE Rory Nicol needs to get more than one touch a game to open up the deep middle for all the snarlers. Tressel said he won’t be able to employ much of what OSU did under Heisman winner Smith. But as long as he plays to the strengths of his new signal caller, State can again have a powerful offense that grinds defenses down with drive after methodical drive.


OT Kirk Barton


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Todd Boeckman-Jr (6-5, 235) Robbie Schoenhoft-So (6-6, 240)
FB Dionte Johnson-Sr (6-0, 234) Trever Robinson-Sr (6-0, 220)
TB Chris Wells-So (6-1, 230) Maurice Wells-Jr (5-10, 190)
WR Ray Small-So (6-0, 175) Albert Dukes-Jr (6-1, 190)
WR Brian Robiskie-Jr (6-3, 195) Devon Lyons-Jr (6-4, 214)
WR Brian Hartline-So (6-3, 180) ..
TE Rory Nicol-Jr (6-5, 250) Jake Ballard-So (6-7, 255)
OT Alex Boone-Jr (6-8, 325) Josh Kerr-Fr (6-5, 283)
OG Steve Rehring-Jr (6-8, 329) Kyle Mitchum-Jr (6-5, 295)
C Jim Cordle-So (6-4, 285) Connor Smith-Fr (6-5, 295)
OG Ben Person-Jr (6-4, 315) Bryant Browning-Fr (6-4, 328)
OT Kirk Barton-Sr (6-6, 310) Jon Skinner-Jr (6-5, 300)
K Aaron Pettrey-So (6-1, 195) Ryan Pretorius-Jr (5-9, 180)



Reconstructing the line shouldn’t be a problem, though it will take time for chemistry to form and the level of play to match what it was in 2006. The inside will need the most attention – athletic Todd Denlinger is the kind of leader-through-example they desperately need here; quick ex-end Doug Worthington looks strong after limited action in ’06 due to knee surgery; Dexter Larimore has great balance as the nation’s former top prep heavyweight wrestler; Rummel (La.) product Nadar Abdallah, the only one of these four over 300 pounds, is ready for anything after getting through Hurricane Katrina. Expect two to emerge for the start but to see all four rotate like OSU bigmen usually do. End Vernon Gholston is a sure All-American who led the team in TFLs and sacks as a sophomore (amongst stud seniors), and new starter Lawrence Wilson has enough experience that little drop off here (if any) will be seen. But the biggest breakout year will be had by Robert Rose, the nation’s top strongside end prospect in ’06 and a monster in his limited showings last year. Consensus All-American MLB James Laurinaitis leads an overachieving linebacking corps that last year, when all were new starters, exploded with production when most though they would be a weak spot. The Nagurski Award winner (top defensive player in I-A; FWAA), Laurinaitis led the team in INTs and forced fumbles (three) with the aid of classmate Marcus Freeman on the strongside. Losing John Kerr won’t hurt too much with Ross Homan ready to start after extensive reps as a reserve. Much depth here means another legacy of amazing Buckeye LB corps will rule the underneath in ’07. The LBs have nothing on the secondary when it comes to playing over their heads as green starters last year. 6’3 Malcolm Jenkins, like 6’1 counterpart Donald Washington, is just as good in run support as he is at smothering receivers. No less than five four-star recruits over the past two classes give unknown depth here that is sure to follow suite with superior play as they search for a hybrid/nickel like Antonio Smith. Jamario O’Neal now becomes the Buckeye’s deep centerpiece, and how strong Anderson Russell returns from injury (knee) will tell whether Nick Patterson can keep his tentative hold on the strong safety slot. This young crew needs to emerge with its own feel/personality to keep OSU a top 10 team for pass efficiency defense. It was against last season’s best opponents when this side of the ball acted its age and looked rather porous. Aberrations like that would again cost this team its ultimate prize, so they cannot be lulled to sleep when they rule the easier foes early on.


DE Vernon Gholston


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Lawrence Wilson-Jr (6-6, 270) Robert Rose-So (6-5, 260)
DT Todd Denlinger-So (6-3, 280) Nader Abdallah-Jr (6-5, 310)
DT Doug Worthington-So (6-7, 275) Dexter Larimore-Fr (6-3, 275)
DE Vernon Gholston-Jr (6-4, 260) Alex Barrow-Jr (6-5, 275)
SLB Larry Grant-Sr (6-3, 225) Curtis Terry-Sr (6-2, 234)
MLB James Laurinaitis-Jr (6-3, 244) Austin Spitler-So (6-3, 242)
WLB Marcus Freeman-Jr (6-2, 242) Ross Homan-So (6-1, 237)
CB Malcolm Jenkins-Jr (6-1, 202) Andre Amos-So (6-1, 180)
CB Donald Washington-So (6-1, 195) Brandon Underwood-Jr (6-2, 180)
SS Jamario O'Neal-Jr (6-1, 200) Kurt Coleman-So (5-11, 185)
FS Nick Patterson-Jr (6-2, 210) Anderson Russell-So (6-0, 190)
P A.J. Trapasso-Jr (6-1, 220) John Thoma-Fr (6-1, 190)




Kicking will remain an advantage for OSU with big-footed Aaron Pettrey having to convert to fend off 28-year old South African Ryan Pretorius. Both can convert from 50+ with surprising accuracy. A.J. Trapasso kicks both high and long on punts to give the Buckeyes an edge in field position battles. We have no clues yet about the vaunted return game, which will likely evaluate its options into the season.