Johnson perhaps showed his potential in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, tallying six tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles. The former linebacker has the speed and athleticism to drop into coverage from the hybrid “Leo” position and should benefit from a second spring since he switched positions.
Trace Clark, who played in six games as a true freshman, has the early edge to occupy the other side because of his quick grasp of the defensive scheme. But also watch for Emmanuel Ogbah and Victor Irokansi, who both redshirted in 2012, and have athletic ability that has impressed teammates and coaches.
Out: Alex Elkins
In: Lyndell Johnson, Demarcus Sherod, Joe Mitchell
Sherod was Elkins' backup on the weak side in 2012 and could be the logical choice to slide into the starting spot.
But Lyndell Johnson, a backup on the strong side, was a versatile playmaker for the Cowboys in 2012, tallying 28 tackles (6.5 for loss), two sacks, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in nine games. He's a candidate to flip sides and start, or to remain a situational player off the bench.
Joe Mitchell, a rising senior who has worked at both outside linebacker spots, will also be in the mix to start.
Out: Brodrick Brown
In: Kevin Peterson
Peterson saw plenty of crucial action as a true freshman, picking up 20 tackles and two pass breakups. Fellow freshman Ashton Lampkin will also be in the running to replace Brown.
Out: Quinn Sharp
In: Michael Reichenstein
Reichenstein, a rising senior, has punted just once during his OSU career — a 49-yarder in a blowout victory against Kansas in 2011.
Out: Quinn Sharp
In: Bobby Stonebreaker, Ben Grogan
Stonebreaker, a walk-on from Tuttle, did not attempt a field goal in 2012 but did boom six kickoffs (three for touchbacks). Commit Ben Grogan, who is rated the No. 9 kicker in the nation by Rivals, could compete for the job immediately.