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Ohio State loses 7 solid starters on defense in addition to central corps of team leaders

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    Grey cornerback Armani Reeves (26) breaks up a pass intended for Scarlet receiver Devin Smith (9) during Ohio State's annual spring NCAA college football game, Saturday, April 13, 2013, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)The Associated Press

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    Scarlet quarterback Braxton Miller (5) passes under pressure from Grey defensive lineman Adolphus Washington during Ohio State's annual spring NCAA college football game, Saturday, April 13, 2013, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)The Associated Press

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    Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer waits to run onto the field with his team during their annual spring NCAA college football game, Saturday, April 13, 2013, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)The Associated Press

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    Grey running back Warren Ball (28) breaks a tackle by Scarlet linebacker David Perkins (21) during Ohio State's annual spring NCAA college football game, Saturday, April 13, 2013, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)The Associated Press

Whenever coach Urban Meyer discusses his leaders from last year's surprising 12-0 season, he invariably points to members of the defense.

Linemen John Simon, Nathan Williams, Garrett Goebel and Johnathan Hankins, linebackers Zach Boren and Etienne Sabino and cornerback Travis Howard did much of the work to transform a 6-7 team into only the sixth unbeaten and untied squad in Ohio State's 123 years playing the sport.

Now all of those players who showed the way to their younger teammates are gone.

The Buckeyes have a lot of talent returning despite losing those seven starters. But it's filling in the gap of experience and expertise that may be the hardest task before the games start counting this fall.