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Back of the defense but front of the class: Bryant, Barnett are focal points of Ohio State D

Safeties are the players farthest removed from the action.

Yet they may just be the focal points of Ohio State's defense.

Starters Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett account for 50 percent of the seniors on the defensive side for the Buckeyes. They've been through a lot, with three coaches in their college careers, weathering a dreary 6-7 record two years ago and playing important roles in the 12-0 bounce-back season of 2012.

With most of the defensive front seven gone, they're being asked to not only be major contributors on the field but also to be teachers to all of the younger guys stepping into starting roles for the first time.

How well Bryant and Barnett do may well determine just how good Ohio State is.