Ohio State Football: 6 Buckeyes Who Will Win Major Award Before They Graduate
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Urban Meyer led the Ohio State Buckeyes to a 12-0 season despite the team being under a postseason ban and coming off a 6-7 season. Yet he didn't win the Big Ten Coach of the Year Award.
No, a Buckeye football coach hasn't won the award since Earle Bruce won it in 1979, his first year at Ohio State. Since that season Ohio State has won 13 Big Ten titles—14 if you are like me and want to count this season—but their coach has never deserved the award, apparently.
So let's look outside the Big Ten, where Braxton Miller was voted second team All-Big Ten by the coaches yet won the QB of the Year, Offensive MVP and Big Ten Player of the Year awards, because they are just goofy.
Which of the Buckeyes currently on the roster have a chance to win major, national awards during their time on the campus of Ohio State?
With his dual-threat ability Braxton Miller has two more years to flourish in Urban Meyer's offense.
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Ohio State loses only three players that had a catch or a carry in 2012. Of those three players, receiver Jake Stoneburner was the only one to play offense the whole season. Fullback Zach Boren moved to defense and punter Ben Buchanan got his carry on a fake punt.
On the offensive line the Buckeyes will return four of their five starters, all of whom are seniors. In 2012 the offensive line paved the way for an offense that led the Big Ten in scoring.
With most of his weapons and protection coming back in 2013, Miller will be one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award and the Davey O'Brien Award and then come back in 2014 and do it again—in which he will be eligible to win the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award given to the best senior QB.
If he can improve his reads and footwork when throwing the ball, then he will likely help put Ohio State in the top five and maybe a BCS National Championship. Both of those achievements would bode well for his Heisman candidacy.
If he comes back Bradley Roby could become Ohio State's next Thorpe Award winner.
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Roby has yet to announce whether he will return for his junior season, his fourth at Ohio State, but if he does he will likely be one of the top candidates for the award in 2013.
Roby led the Big Ten in passes defended with 19 while hauling in two interceptions, both against Nebraska.
The Buckeyes' top corner showed he is more than just a pass coverage specialist. Roby accumulated 63 tackles, good for third on the team with two tackles for loss and a sack while playing in 11 games.
If Roby comes back he has a good chance to join the likes of Antione Winfield and Malcolm Jenkins as Buckeyes who have won the Thorpe Award.
Ryan Shazier led the team in tackles as a sophomore.
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Ryan Shazier has to feel a little bit slighted after his great sophomore season.
The Floridian, who was committed to play for Meyer at Florida before his departure, led the Big Ten in solo tackles and tackles for loss and was second in the conference in total tackles.
He also recorded five sacks, 12 passes defended, three forced fumbles and took his one interception back for a score.
For all that Shazier was awarded second team All-Big Ten honors by the coaches.
Shazier's numbers stacked up rather favorably to Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, if Shazier can put up similar numbers and the Buckeyes can compete for a title, then Shazier has a chance to win awards like the Dick Butkus Award, Bronko Nagurzki Award and Chuck Bednarik Award.
However, with Shazier sharing the spotlight with Braxton Miller, I doubt he'll have a chance to win the national player of the year awards Te'o did.
Adolphus Washington showed promise in his freshman season.
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Adolphus Washington saw action in 10 games and only recorded nine tackles. But with defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins declaring for the 2013 NFL draft, the Buckeyes will lose all four of their starters on the defensive line.
That means Washington will likely step in as a starter and full-time player as a sophomore in 2013.
Washington, a 5-star recruit, is a big versatile lineman that can play inside and outside—kind of reminiscent to former Buckeye Cameron Heyward.
If Washington can live up to his potential and learn from defensive line coach Mike Vrabel, he has a good chance to work his way toward a Vince Lombardi/Rotary Award.
Perhaps the toughest obstacle for Washington won't be defensive lineman, but beating classmate Noah Spence to the opposing QB.
Noah Spence was the most prized possession of Ohio State's 2012 recruiting class.
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Speaking of Noah Spence...
Urban Meyer has made it very clear in his first two recruiting classes that getting top-notch defensive linemen is a major priority. Spence may be the best individual example of that.
The native Pennsylvanian wasn't even considering Ohio State before Meyer got hired, but three months later he was signing to play in Columbus.
In his first season Spence—who sat behind seniors John Simon and Nathan Williams for most of the year—didn't play full-time, but probably played more snaps than any other Buckeye freshman.
Spence appeared in 11 games and had 12 tackles and one sack. But expectations are high for his career. He did come in as the ninth best prospect in the 2012 class according to Rivals.
While Washington may be limited to shooting for the Vince Lombardi/Rotary Award, Spence may be the type of talent that could win defensive player of the year awards like the Chuck Bednarik and Bronko Nagurski awards.
As a full-time defensive end he will also have a chance to win the Ted Hendricks Award.
Devin Smith hooked up with Braxton Miller many times early in 2012 to save the Buckeyes.
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This one may be the most far-fetched of all the possibilities, but so was the thought that Devin Smith would be able to make a twisting one-handed catch against Miami of Ohio. (Link for those who want to see it again.)
With all the pass-happy offenses around college football, it is unlikely that a player from a run-first offense will win the Fred Biletnikoff Award any time soon.
But if there is a receiver that can do it, then it will have to be one with a flare for he dramatic and the ability to break big plays, both characteristics Smith possesses.
Smith led the Big Ten with 20.6 yards a catch and was second on the team with 618 yards on 30 receptions. One-fifth of those receptions went for TDs and three of his six TDs ended up being the difference in the game.
Smith has problems with consistency—dropped some passes and didn't have a TD in the last five games—but if he can get that fixed and be Braxton Miller's deep-threat, then he could challenge for the award.