By Rusty Miller | Associated Press
COLUMBUS -- Most of the most notable players from a team that went 12-0 last season are back for Ohio State in 2013.
Yet when spring practice begins today, second-year coach Urban Meyer will still be searching for leaders.
The players who set the pace for last year's perfect record weren't necessarily the stars. Defensive end John Simon was, but more of them were like Zach Boren, who split time between linebacker and fullback. They took ownership of the Buckeyes and helped erase the memories of a seven-loss season in 2011.
"That's a huge void," Meyer said after the season about the departing seniors. "We're in the evaluation phase of who can fill those roles. Make no doubt about it now, that that was a huge part of a successful season."
So even though the Buckeyes welcome back Sports Illustrated cover boy Braxton Miller, a junior quarterback already trumpeted as a Heisman Trophy contender, along with running back Carlos Hyde, linebacker Ryan Shazier and cornerback Bradley Roby, Meyer will be wondering what players will pick up the slack in the leadership depart.
The only losses are TE Jake Stoneburner, RT Reid Fragel and FBs Boren and Adam Homan. That leaves a plethora of quality players on that side of the ball: Miller, Hyde, receivers Corey Brown and Devin Smith and linemen Jack Mewhort, Andrew Norwell, Corey Linsley and Marcus Hall.
Meyer still is upset that Ohio State faces recruiting limitations. He wanted to sign more players to his bumper crop, but had to leave three off the list. As he said, "That could be three Braxton Millers. It's not easy to deal with."
The Buckeyes practice today and Thursday, then the players are off over spring break before returning March 19. The workouts will continue until the annual spring game which, because of concrete work being done at Ohio Stadium, will be played this year at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati on April 13.