COLUMBUS — Usually when Ohio State football fans ask about the outlook for this year's team, the first question almost always is on the progression of sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller.
In my opinion, he's the most visually improved player on the team. His passing mechanics are light years ahead of where they were in his freshman campaign. His leadership skills have dramatically changed becoming a more vocal, verbally passionate player on the field and on the sideline. And his comfort-level in the new spread offense is ... well, like a baby curled up in its mother's arms.
However, Miller isn't the only Buckeye who's made a major transformation during this off-season. In fact, when asked who's made the biggest leap in 2012, new Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer didn't even mention Miller, but instead, pointed toward the man who's snapping him the football.
Junior center Corey Linsley — a two-year reserve offensive lineman prior to this season — has been given the daunting task of replacing All-American Michael Brewster on the ball. And according to Meyer, Linsley hasn't just taken the bull by its horns ... he's made him into leather boots, a jacket and 2,000 pounds of prime beef.
"I would have to say Corey Linsley would be on offense the guy that's made the biggest jump," Meyer said. "Linsley's gone from nobody to the apex of the offense. That's the center, which in any offense — but particularly this one, the way we do things — that center's got to be a grown man."
Linsley certainly matches Meyer's description.
The 6-foot-3, 295-pounder out of Boardman (OH) High School is considered not only one of the toughest guys on the team — which is no surprise being for Youngstown — but also one of the strongest. The "grown man" can bench more than 500 pounds.
"I love Corey. I love who he is. I love the seriousness. I love the fact that he was honest about his (performance last year), it wasn't a blame game," Meyer said. "He didn't come and blame the previous coaching staff. He blamed himself for his lack of production.
"So he's without question, in my mind, the number one most improved guy."
Buckeyes new Co-Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach, Ed Warinner, agrees with his head coach's assessment.
"I think the thing that Corey's done is he's accepted the way the program is run and has really embraced it and he's a very hard worker," Warinner said of Linsley. "He's totally committed a turnaround in his life and so forth in terms of the past and moving forward.
"(Corey's) a very blue-collar guy that just trains hard in the weight room, practices hard. Very physical. So he's more of a leader by his example of great effort, great energy, he's a competitor.
"He's playing really well, too, besides the fact."
Linsley and the No. 18 Buckeyes kick off the season — and a new era — this Saturday (12 p.m.) against Miami University at Ohio Stadium.