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NCAA Football Ohio State Buckeyes

5 Seniors Who Need to Produce for Ohio State in 2014

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5 Seniors Who Must Produce for Ohio State in 2014

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Andrew Weber - USA Today Sports

The Ohio State Buckeyes will not have many of their starters left from 2013 on either side of the ball.

They will be losing a total of ten starters, six of them from the offense and four from the defense. That will leave just seven seniors who are expected to start in 2014. A smaller senior class means that those seven will need to produce even more. The seven senior starters will be quarterback Braxton Miller, defensive lineman Michael Bennett, tight end Jeff Heuerman, receivers Devin Smith and Evan Spencer, linebacker Curtis Grant and cornerback Doran Grant. All of them need to have a great 2014 season, but here we will be looking at which five need to produce the most for Ohio State to be successful in 2014. Some haven’t played as much as others, though Urban Meyer still expects all of his seniors to produce no matter how much playing time they have had in the past.

The Buckeyes have questions that need answered on both sides of the ball, whether it’s because of a player departure or a unit that just needs all-around improvement. They want to do what they did in 2013 and make it through their regular season undefeated, but this time they want to go all the way and not end the season on a disappointing note like they did this past year. Production from their seniors will be just what the Buckeyes need to achieve that goal.

Who are those five players and what will they need to do in 2014 to help make Ohio State successful?

Jenna Aquino is a Big Ten Football writer for RantSports.com. Follow her on Twitter, "Like" her on Facebook, add her to your network on Google, or reach her by e-mail at starz9815@hotmail.com.

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5. Curtis Grant, LB

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Andrew Weber - USA Today Sports

If Grant can stay away from injury in 2014, he will be a great asset to the Ohio State defense. He missed the last four games of the 2013 regular season due to injury. Grant needs to produce as a pass rusher and shut down opposing quarterbacks, especially if Ohio State’s secondary does not show the improvement that it needs to. Grant had 52 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 2013.

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4. Evan Spencer, WR

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Andrew Weber - USA Today Sports

Spencer proved to Meyer that he can be more than just a receiver. His blocking abilities did not go unnoticed by Meyer, and he was very impressed with him. The departure of fellow receiver Corey “Philly” Brown could provide Spencer with more opportunities to be the receiver he wants to be in 2014. He had just 22 catches for 216 yards and three touchdowns in 2013. Spencer and Devin Smith should be Miller’s prime targets in the passing game. Spencer’s blocking abilities will do the young offensive line some good as well since Miller will need protection in order to produce.

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3. Devin Smith, WR

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Raj Mehta - USA Today Sports

Along with Spencer, Smith should be one of Miller’s main receiving targets as he was in 2013. He had 44 catches for 660 yards and eight touchdowns last season. His receiving abilities will be an important asset for the Ohio State offense if they want to be as explosive and effective as they were in 2013, especially with the departure of Brown in the passing game and Carlos Hyde in the running game. Miller may have to turn more to the passing game anyway without Hyde in the backfield which would make more production from Smith and Spencer even more necessary.

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2. Doran Grant, CB

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Brad Barr - USA Today Sports

It is absolutely necessary that the secondary of the Ohio State defense improves this offseason. With the loss of cornerback Bradley Roby, senior leadership from Grant will be very important. Ohio State will have a young secondary in 2014, and Grant’s leadership and experience will be very important in their development. He had 55 tackles in 2013 along with three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown against the Purdue Boilermakers.

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1. Braxton Miller, QB

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Joshua S Kelly - USA Today Sports

The Buckeyes and their fans alike all breathed a sigh of relief when they found out that Miller would be returning for his senior season. Miller’s departure would have meant relying on sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones, who has had little playing time with Miller and departing senior Kenny Guiton ahead of him, or incoming freshman Stephen Collier to win them a championship. Miller’s improvement last offseason helped propel the Buckeyes to their 12-0 regular season in 2013, and if he improves as much this offseason as he did last offseason, opposing defenses could be in trouble. Miller has no problem running the ball but just needs to work on throwing the ball more and work on his accuracy when he does so. If he can throw the ball more in 2014 and have at least the 63.5 percent accuracy he had in 2013 then Ohio State will have a great dual threat offense. He passed for 2,094 yards with 24 touchdowns and just seven interceptions while also rushing for 1,068 yards and 12 touchdowns during the 2013 season.