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Last updated: 12/18/2011 11:18 AM

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Football
The Ozonies: the-Ozone 2011 Ohio State Season Awards
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Buckeyes will officially hand out their season awards for 2011 at the team’s Football Appreciation Banquet on Sunday.

This year’s banquet is closed to the media, so we decided to hand out our own post-season awards for the 2011 football season.

Last year was the first time The Ozone handed out post-season accolades, but these aren’t just any awards.

Here are the winners of our second-year coveted post-season awards, the-Ozonies.

*(Editor’s Note: In parenthesis are the actual winners of the individual award handed out during last year’s Football Appreciation Banquet).

Team MVP: John Simon (2010 Dane Sanzenbacher)

John Simon
Photo by Jim Davidson
John Simon

This may have been the toughest year in recent memory to pick a team MVP. It almost had to be divided up into sections of the season. Both Braxton Miller and Boom Herron could have been our choice here (although we didn’t feel 100 percent comfortable picking any of the suspended players), but the one guy who brought it every single week was Simon.

His numbers tapered off towards the end of the season, but the junior defensive lineman out of Youngstown had a monstrous season despite the fact he was often playing out of position. He finished third in the Big Ten in sacks (7.0) and seventh (15.0) in tackles for loss this season and was really the heart and soul of the defense.

Archie Griffin Award (Outstanding Offensive Player): Braxton Miller (2010 Terrelle Pryor)

Braxton Miller
Photo by Jim Davidson

Herron may very well have been the most important player on the offense after he returned from his suspension—which lasted six games—but it is hard to argue against Miller as the most outstanding offensive player for Ohio State. For a quick reminder, just think back to the games without him against Toledo and Miami (Fla.). It wasn’t a pretty site, and neither was Miller’s first start against Michigan State, but it didn’t take the freshman quarterback long to make an impact.

He almost single-handedly had the Buckeyes in position to upset Nebraska in Lincoln before his ankle injury aided the Cornhuskers’ fourth-quarter comeback. Miller led Ohio State in rushing with nearly 700 yards on the ground, including the longest run ever by an OSU quarterback. He scored seven touchdowns with his legs and 11 more through the air, including a breakout performance against Michigan.

Bill Willis Award (Outstanding Defensive Player): Simon (2010 Cam Heyward)

We could maybe argue for Johnathan Hankins here, but there is no question Simon was the best player on Ohio State’s defense in 2011. We gave him our Team MVP award, and it is almost unimaginable where this defense would have been without him this season, especially after the injury to Nathan Williams, our choice for Ohio State’s defensive lineman of the year last season.

Bo Rein Award (Most Inspirational): Tyler Moeller (2010 Sanzenbacher)

Tyler Moeller
Photo by Jim Davidson
Tyler Moeller

This is another award that went to Sanzenbacher last season, but the smart money says Tyler Moeller would win in a landslide this year. And why not? Nobody on this team has overcome more adversity than Moeller, who missed an entire season with a brain injury. He returned last year and played some excellent football early in the season before suffering a torn pectoral that knocked him out for the year. The Cincinnati Colerain product worked hard again in the off-season to rehab his chest, but also had to overcome hamstring and groin injuries before the start of the 2011 season. Regardless of what anyone thinks about his performance on the field, Moeller has been an inspiration to everyone in that locker room. He continues to walk around with a smile on his face, and it’s impossible not to root for this kid.

Jim Marshall Warrior Award: Nate Ebner (Brandon Saine & Aaron Gant)

Nate Ebner
Photo by Jim Davidson
Nate Ebner

If you don’t know Ebner’s story, it’s time to do some research. The kid has been through a lot, including the death of his father, but he wins our Jim Marshall Award for being a warrior on the field. In fact, for being a ‘War Daddy.’ Ebner became a star on Ohio State’s special teams this season and the one real playmaker they needed in order to solidify their kick coverage team. Nate Oliver, Zach Domicone and Ryan Shazier also deserve some recognition for their play on special teams this year.

First-Year Offensive Player: Miller (2010 Corey Brown)

We could have given this award to Devin Smith, who caught 12 passes for 247 yards and four touchdowns, but let’s be real. Braxton Miller was the best freshman on the team and there is no reason to strip him of the award simply because he was already picked for the Archie Griffin award.

First-Year Defensive Player: Ryan Shazier (2010 Johnathan Hankins)

Ryan Shazier
Photo by Dan Harker
Ryan Shazier

There were a few more choices on the defensive side of the ball for top rookie, including redshirt freshman Bradley Roby and true freshman Michael Bennett, but this one has to go to Shazier. The freshman out of Plantation, Fla. finished seventh on the team in tackles with 48 despite the fact he only started two games all year. He was key special teams performer, but it was his 15-tackle performance against Penn State, and the way he gutted it out through strained MCL against Michigan that make him the obvious choice.

Rex Kern Award (Outstanding Offensive Back): Zach Boren (2010 Boom Herron)

Zach Boren
Photo by Jim Davidson
Zach Boren

This is another award that could go to Braxton Miller, or tailback Boom Herron, who ran for 596 yards and three touchdowns in just six games, but the most valuable player in Ohio State’s backfield from start to finish was the fullback. Watch any game from this year and what you will see is Zach Boren blowing people up and leading the way for Herron, Jordan Hall or Carlos Hyde. He is a true football player in every sense of the word and the one vocal leader Ohio State had on offense early in the year.

Paul Warfield Award (Outstanding WR): Jake Stoneburner (2010 Sanzenbacher)

Jake Stoneburner
Photo by Jim Davidson
Jake Stoneburner

This award is designated to go to a wide receiver, but there really wasn’t one guy from that group who stood out in 2011. Clearly DeVier Posey was the best in the group, but he missed 10 games due to suspension. Corey Brown played through an ankle injury and Devin Smith had a nice rookie campaign, but the best pass-catcher on Ohio State’s roster this year was the tight end. Stoneburner caught three touchdowns in the season-opener and another the following week on his way to a seven-touchdown season. He disappeared from the offense a few weeks in the middle of the year, but his seven TDs accounted for nearly half of the team’s scores through the air during the regular season.

Jim Parker Award (Outstanding Offensive Lineman): Michael Brewster (2010 Justin Boren & Bryant Browning)

Mike Brewster
Photo by Jim Davidson
Mke Brewster

There will be plenty of resistance on this one because of a few games where Brewster struggled to get the shotgun snap back to Braxton Miller, but he really was their one consistent rock on the line all season. Mike Adams was probably the best of the bench when he returned, but he missed five game due to suspension. Andrew Norwell and Jack Mewhort were both solid first-year starters, but Brewster deserves this recognition as well as the honor of being named a season-long captain.

Ike Kelley Award (Special Teams Standout): Ben Buchanan (2010 Jake McQuaide)

Ben Buchanan
Photo by Jim Davidson
Ben Buchanan

If there is a dark horse in the Team MVP voting it might just be punter Ben Buchanan. The junior out of Westerville was a dominant force in the punting game all season long. Of his 61 punts 24 were down inside the 20 and six went for over 50 yards. Maybe more impressive is the fact only two of them went into the end zone for touchbacks. He averaged 41 yards per punt despite having the second most attempts in the Big Ten behind Indiana’s punter Adam Pines.

Randy Gradishar Award (Outstanding Linebacker): Andrew Sweat (2010 Brian Rolle & Ross Homan)

This award sort of goes out by default, but Andrew Sweat was having a pretty productive season before his concussion against Purdue. He finished second on the team with 68 tackles.

Arnie Chonko (Outstanding Defensive Back): Bradley Roby and C.J. Barnett (2010 Chimdi Chekwa & Jermale Hines)

Bradley Roby
Photo by Dan Harker
Bradley Roby

Barnett ended up leading Ohio State in tackles during the regular season, but Roby was the most consistent performer in the secondary all year long. After beating out Dominic Clarke during fall camp, Roby had a few rough moments early in the year, but as time went on, teams stopped throwing in his direction. He finished with 41 tackles and tied for the team lead with three interceptions despite the fact teams were throwing at Travis Howard most of the year.

Jack Stephenson Award (Outstanding Defensive Lineman): Johnathan Hankins (2010 Dexter Larimore)

Johnathan Hankins
Photo by Dan Harker
Johnathan Hankins

This is another award that could go to Simon, but Johnathan Hankins deserves some serious recognition for his sophomore campaign. The 330-pound lineman played everywhere on the d-line except Leo, and was easily Ohio State’s second most important player on defense behind Simon. He finished third on the team with 64 tackles and second with 11 tackles for loss. He is a burgeoning star for the Buckeyes on defense and could be one of the premier tackles in the country next season.

W.W. Hayes Award (Outstanding Player vs. Michigan): DeVier Posey (2010 Hines)

DeVier Posey
Photo by Dan Harker
DeVier Posey

Braxton Miller put up the big numbers against Michigan, but let’s be honest; DeVier Posey was the best player on the field. Officially, he had three catches for 58 yards and a touchdown, but Posey was running open down the field all afternoon. He should have been well over 100 yards with 2-3 touchdowns, including the go-ahead score, if Miller had been on the mark throwing the ball.


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