Buckeyes Litter Preseason Watch Lists

By Jeff Rapp, August 8th, 2017

When those who follow college football try to explain Ohio State’s magnificence in recent years as well as the very strong outlook for the 2017 season, they begin with head coach Urban Meyer and his NFL-caliber staff, point to an abundance of depth on each side of the ball and rave about the program’s ability to rake in topflight recruits.

While that reasoning seems justified, the truth is the Buckeyes are going to have to flex some star power if they are to win the Big Ten, return to the College Football Playoff and threaten to reclaim the crystal football.

Even with another clump of recently departed OSU players now receiving NFL paychecks, it’s safe to say those same experts like the team’s returning talent – a lot.

In fact, a plethora of Buckeyes have been named to preseason watch lists for major college individual awards, including the trio of quarterback J.T. Barrett, defensive end Tyquan Lewis and center Billy Price being recently identified as candidates for the Walter Camp player of the year watch list for 2017. The award is the fourth-oldest among college football’s major national awards and is presented by the Walter Camp Football Foundation.

All three Buckeyes are seniors in eligibility who already have received their undergraduate degrees.

Barrett, who also has graced several unofficial Heisman Trophy watch lists, enters his final year with the Scarlet and Gray with a record of 26-4 as starting QB. The committees representing four other prestigious awards already had named Barrett to their watch lists: the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, the O’Brien Award, the Maxwell Award and the Allstate Good Works Team.

Lewis, the 2016 Big Ten Conference defensive lineman of the year, is also being watched by two defensive player of the year awards: the Bronko Nagurski and the Bednarik.

Price is the only offensive lineman in the nation to be selected to the Walter Camp player of the year award watch list. A first-team All-American last season, he previously has been named to the Rimington Trophy and Outland Trophy watch lists.

Price has been a guard by trade during his career but he will line up ahead of Barrett this season. Last year, former teammate and good friend Pat Elflein made a similar switch and ended up winning the Rimington as the nation’s top center.

Including Barrett, Lewis and Price, a total of 13 Buckeyes have been named to at least one preseason watch list so far.

A product of Wichita Falls, Texas, Barrett is about to become the first three-time captain in school history (eight players have been two-time captains). A holder of 23 school records, Barrett needs 1,167 passing yards for that school record, 535 rushing yards to top 3,000 and move into Ohio State’s all-time top 10, and just 5 yards to set the school total offense record, currently at 8,850 yards.

The longtime starter also needs just seven touchdowns to break Drew Brees’ Big Ten record of 106 touchdowns responsible for.

Of course, Barrett is used to being singled out. Last year, in what some critics labeled a down year, he repeated as the Big Ten’s Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year and he shared the Chicago Tribune Silver Football Award with Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.

And while Barkley has made several preseason All-America lists and generally is considered the Big Ten’s best returning back, OSU’s Mike Weber has joined him on the Doak Walker Award watch list. Established in 1989, the Doak Walker Award recognizes the nation’s premier running back for his accomplishments on the field, achievement in the classroom and citizenship in the community.

A sophomore from Detroit and Cass Tech High School, Weber started all 13 games for the Buckeyes last season and became only the third freshman in Ohio State history to rush for more than 1,000 yards. He rushed for 1,096 yards, averaged 6.0 yards per carry, scored nine touchdowns and led all Big Ten freshmen with 84.3 yards per game.

His rookie season statistics included four 100-yard rushing games and 23 receptions for 91 yards.

Weber earned freshman All-America status from the Football Writers Association of America and ESPN last season, and he was named the Big Ten’s Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year.

The list of Buckeyes who could be poised for breakout, leading or record-setting seasons is lengthy. For example, some OSU followers believe Weber’s listed backup, J.K. Dobbins, could emerge as OSU’s next young offensive star. There are similar hopes for H-back Parris Campbell.

On defense, youngsters such as Denzel Ward and Nick Bosa could be ready to bust out.

And there are more proven commodities who are getting preseason acclaim like Sam Hubbard and Jerome Baker, who figure to be defensive anchor points this season.

The following is a listing of the Buckeyes who have made preseason watch lists of note:

2017 Ohio State Football Preseason Honors

Walter Camp Player of the Year
QB J.T. Barrett
DE Tyquan Lewis
OC Billy Price

Doak Walker Award
RB Mike Weber

Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award
QB J.T. Barrett

O’Brien Award
QB J.T. Barrett

Wuerffel Award
DT Tracy Sprinkle

Butkus Award
LB Jerome Baker
LB Chris Worley

Paul Hornung Award
H-B Parris Campbell

Jim Thorpe Award
CB Denzel Ward

Bronko Nagurski Trophy
LB Jerome Baker
DE Nick Bosa
DE Sam Hubbard
DE Tyquan Lewis

Outland Trophy
OT Jamarco Jones
C Billy Price

Rimington Trophy
C Billy Price

John Mackey Award
TE Marcus Baugh

Maxwell Award
QB J.T. Barrett
RB Mike Weber

Bednarik Award
LB Jerome Baker
DE Nick Bosa
DE Tyquan Lewis
CB Denzel Ward

Allstate AFCA Good Works Team
QB J.T. Barrett