Almost exactly a year ago today, the last thing Tyler Moeller was thinking about was gearing up for the fall season. After suffering a serious head injury as the result of a sucker punch, Moeller and family were simply working toward full recovery with the hope to play again at some juncture down the line. That hope got a little closer to reality a few weeks ago when he was cleared for play by his doctors. Judging by the depth chart, the timing couldn't be better. The loss of Anderson Russell and Kurt Coleman leaves a nasty sting - especially with Coleman, who racked up Thorpe quality statistics about as quietly as one can. Both players were multi-year starters and now their roles could be filled by a combination of players who have seen the field in reserve duty or those who have barely registered a grass stain. And, then there's Moeller, who hasn't played since 2008. But, there are four guys who we can reasonably be certain will be on the field at all times in Chimdi Chekwa, Devon Torrence, Jermale Hines and Orhian Johnson. Johnson is a newcomer all but inked in to a starting spot based on a variety of evidence such as player quotes, a start last year, Florida swagger and being the player who most closely resembles Nate Salley in body type. Anyone who has watched the Buckeyes the last few years knows this isn't a complete secondary, though. The defensive tendency, often dictated by the offense, usually finds Ohio State in nickel the majority of the time. Rather than inserting another corner, the defensive staff has shown a preference for a bigger player who still has wheels but does a better job supporting the run. This has led to the creation of the Star which is a hybrid safety/linebacker position seemingly perfectly suited for a guy like Tyler Moeller. It also makes it less likely we'll see a pure corner as the fifth defensive back. So, guys like Travis Howard, Donnie Evege or even perhaps Corey Brown will only see the field if they unseat one of the returning corners. The position is a difficult one. Jermale Hines filled it well in years past but he moves back to safety alongside Johnson, leaving one spot and a plethora of bodies who can fill it. But, bodies don't amount to viable candidates. When one takes a look at the possible nickel players vying for that Star position, it's difficult to come to any conclusion other than it's Moeller's to lose. That's not to discount the improvement of the others but I don't think Nate Oliver is going to blow our doors off nor do I think Jaime Wood or Zach Domicone are suddenly going to emerge. Aaron Gant has had a quiet career and is coming off injury. CJ Barnett is possibility but was a corner last year from what I can tell and from there we are essentially talking about brand new players and walk-ons like rugby phenom Nate Ebner (a damn good footballer, too). None of them inspire confidence like Moeller and, more importantly, they haven't produced like him either. Tyler has shown glimpses of brilliance in his short bursts of playing time. He dominated against Illinois a few years back registering two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and quarterback pressure that resulted in an interception. His blitzing is among the best on the team and he has deceptive speed - increased now that he's dropped weight since the injury. He knows the defense and situational schemes and he was poised for a great year last year if the 2009 spring game was any indication. Far be it from me to rain hyperbole on the parade but #26 is really important to this year's defense and that's a lot of pressure to put on someone in his circumstance. Of course, his health is the primary concern but being he's now available, it will be interesting to see how he'll manage the prospects of being a key player even after a long layoff. The wildcard card here will be his mental and physical preparation but knowing the type of player he is, he's probably already addressed any hurdles in an effort to make himself as fully primed as possible. Thus, from what I can tell, he's going to be about as important as any player in the secondary because the alternatives aren't nearly as comforting. Of course, you might feel different?