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Last updated: 12/26/2012 3:26 PM

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Football
The Ozonies: the-Ozone 2012 Ohio State Season Awards
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — While there will not be a traditional team banquet like there has been in the past – Urban Meyer opted to celebrate with the seniors and their families instead – the Buckeyes will officially hand out their postseason awards at some point.

Since Ohio State doesn’t have a bowl game to prepare for, there is no exact time table for when they will crown a team MVP for the undefeated 12-0 season. We decided to take the initiative, handing out our own post-season awards for the 2012 football season.

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

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

Team MVP: Zach Boren (2011 John Simon, 2010 Dane Sanzenbacher)

Zach Boren
Photo by Jim Davidson
Zach Boren

There are going to be a lot of arguments back and forth about talent vs. value, and about which player really meant the most to these 2012 Buckeyes. If we’re talking statistical production, it’s Braxton Miller by a landslide. The sophomore quarterback carried Ohio State’s offense on his back early in the year, and really carried the defense as well.

John Simon and Ryan Shazier also had fantastic statistical seasons, but Ohio State’s defense was so average for most of the year, it’s hard to hand a team MVP award to someone on that side of the ball. Otherwise Bradley Roby might deserve a mention, and who can forget what Carlos Hyde did, especially late in the season when opposing defenses were selling out to stop Braxton.

But the guy who provided the most ‘value’ for the Buckeyes in 2012 was senior Zach Boren. Not many people would have projected Boren as a candidate for MVP before the season – although he was a darn good fullback for three years – but the Pickerington native proved his worth beyond measure this season.

Without him, there’s no telling who would have been playing middle linebacker at the end of the year. It certainly wasn’t going to be Curtis Grant, and Storm Klein was largely ineffective battling through his back injury. Without Boren, this defense probably never gets right. Without Boren, Shazier probably never settles down enough to become the dynamic playmaker he was at the end of the year.

Archie Griffin Award (Outstanding Offensive Player): Braxton Miller (2011 Miller, 2010 Boom Herron)

Braxton Miller
Photo by Jim Davidson
Braxton Miller

This one was easy. Maybe Braxton got snubbed for MVP (he has two more years to win it right?), but there’s no debate over Ohio State’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player in 2012. Heck, Miller took home The Ozonie for Offensive Player of the Year last year and he wasn’t half the player he was this season.

The only other real candidate for the award this season would be Hyde, who certainly deserves a mention, but Braxton was the fuel that made Ohio State go offensively. A lot of what Hyde was able to do late in the year came partially because defenses were so committed to stopping No. 5.

And for good reason. Miller finished his sophomore year with over 2,000 yards passing and nearly 1,300 yards rushing. He racked up 28 touchdowns and threw only six picks all year, despite the fact he attempted nearly 100 more passes this season than he did last year.

Bill Willis Award (Outstanding Defensive Player): Ryan Shazier and John Simon (2011 Simon, 2010 Jermale Hines)

Ryan Shazier
Photo by Jim Davidson
Ryan Shazier

It seems unfair to give a joint award, but picking between Shazier and Simon would truly be splitting hairs after this season. Simon, a two-time captain and the reigning Ozonie winner for Defensive Player of the Year, led the Big Ten in sacks and finished fourth in tackles-for-loss.

It was Shazier who led the Big Ten with 17 tackles for loss this season and he also finished second in the conference in total tackles during the regular season. Both of these guys were outstanding, especially late in the year. Shazier played his best games against Purdue and Penn State, while Simon turned in a record performance with four sacks in that win over Wisconsin.

Bo Rein Award (Most Inspirational): Etienne Sabino (2011 Tyler Moeller, 2010 Devin Barclay)

Etienne Sabino
Photo by Jim Davidson
Etienne Sabino

Much like there have been in years past, there were a number of candidates for this year’s Bo Rein Ozonie Award, but the only obvious choice was Sabino. This guy has been through it all during his Ohio State career. He came in as a highly-touted 5-star and played on special teams as a rookie, but that actually set him back. He eventually had to redshirt as a junior and when he finally got on the field as a starter this year, he broke a bone in his leg in the second game of the Big Ten schedule. Sabino vowed to return for the Michigan game, and he did one better. The fifth-year senior played in that game up in Madison just six weeks after breaking his leg.

Jim Marshall Warrior Award: Nathan Williams (2011 Nate Ebner, 2010 Aaron Gant)

Nathan Williams
Photo by Jim Davidson
Nathan Williams

Another candidate for Most Inspirational would be Sabino’s classmate, Nathan Williams. We decided the Jim Marshall Warrior Award was much more fitting for Williams, who battled back from a devastating knee injury to play a key role on Ohio State’s defense this season. Williams beat the odds in his return from microfracture surgery, but it wasn’t by sheer lick. This guy put in the kind of work you could never even imagine to get himself healthy enough to play again this season. He wasn’t quite is old dynamic self out there, but he played on guts and toughness all season.

First-Year Offensive Player: Nick Vannett (2011 Braxton Miller, 2010 Corey Brown)

Nick Vannett
Photo by Jim Davidson
Nick Vannett

There weren’t a lot of candidates for this award, and no obvious ones like Braxton Miller a year ago. Freshmen Bri’onte Dunn and Michael Thomas had a few nice moments, but the award goes to redshirt freshman Nick Vannett. The Westerville native emerged as one of Urban Meyer’s favorites during the offseason, and had a few really nice plays as a rookie in 2012. He finished with nine catches for 123 yards, but the best part is that he has three more years to blossom in Meyer’s system.

First-Year Defensive Player: Adolphus Washington (2011 Ryan Shazier, 2010 Johnathan Hankins)

Adolphus Washington
Photo by Jim Davidson
Adolphus Washington

This is another close one that easily could have gone to Noah Spence. He was the first freshman to really earn serious playing time on either side of the ball this season, but it was Adolphus Washington who really closed out his freshman campaign on a high note. Washington tallied three sacks as a rookie, including a big one against Taylor Lewan in the Michigan game. That alone earns him the tie-breaker with Spence, but both of them should be in the starting lineup next season.

Rex Kern Award (Outstanding Offensive Back): Carlos Hyde (2011 Zach Boren, 2010 Boom Herron)

Carlos Hyde
Photo by Jim Davidson
Carlos Hyde

Another tough one to pick, but the last couple years it has gone to a running back and we decided to keep that trend going in 2012. Boren was no longer a candidate since he switched over the defense, but it wouldn’t have mattered much. Hyde was he obvious choice here. The junior out of Naples, Fla. ran for 970 yards and 16 touchdowns this season, despite missing 2.5 games with a knee injury. He was the hammer on offense late in the year and really carried them to wins over Wisconsin and Michigan.

Paul Warfield Award (Outstanding WR): Corey Brown (2011 Jake Stoneburner, 2010 Sanzenbacher)

Corey Brown
Photo by Jim Davidson
Coery Brown

This one looked like it was going to be an easy selection early in the year. It turned out to be, but not the guy we all thought it might be. Devin Smith was the flashy playmaker scoring all the big touchdowns early in the year, but Corey Brown quietly became one of their best playmakers on offense. Smith eventually cooled off, but Brown really started to get better and better each week. He led the team with 60 catches (twice as many as anyone else) and actually led the team with 669 receiving yards as well.

Jim Parker Award (Outstanding Offensive Lineman): Jack Mewhort & Reid Fragel (2011 Michael Brewster, 2010 Justin Boren)

Reid Fragel
Photo by Jim Davidson
Reid Fragel

This one could have gone to a number of guys, but the two obvious choices were the bookend tackles. Junior Andrew Norwell also had a tremendous season at left guard, which earned him first-team All-Big Ten consideration, but it’s hard to discount what both Mewhort and Fragel did this season. Mewhort went from playing mostly center and guard to being a fantastic left tackle on Braxton Miller’s blindside. On the other end, Fragel made an improbable transition from tight end to right tackle, and he played so well as a senior that freshman Taylor Decker barely got in there. Those two guys deserve some serious recognition for what they did in 2012.

Ike Kelley Award (Special Teams Standout): Adam Griffin (2011 Ben Buchanan, 2010 Jake McQuaide)

Adam Griffin
Photo by Jim Davidson
Adam Griffin

This is another award that could have gone to Corey Brown, who returned a pair of punts for touchdowns. It also could have gone to kicker Drew Basil, long-snapper Bryce Haynes or safety Orhian Johnson. A number of the young freshmen had good performances on kick coverage, but we had to give the Ike Kelley Ozonie to Adam Griffin. Archie’s kid really made an impact on special teams this year, mostly on kickoffs but who could forget that pass he broke up on the fake punt against Penn State?

Randy Gradishar Award (Outstanding Linebacker): Ryan Shazier (2011 Andrew Sweat, 2010 Brian Rolle)

This one was easy. Boren might have been in the conversation if he played defense all year, and maybe Sabino if he was healthy, but Shazier was the clear and obvious pick. He had 44 more tackles than any other player on the OSU defense in 2012, and he was only a sophomore.

Arnie Chonko (Outstanding Defensive Back): Bradley Roby (2011 Roby & C.J. Barnett, 2010 Chimdi Chekwa & Jermale Hines)

Bradley Roby
Photo by Jim Davidson
Bradley Roby

Another easy one, although Christian Bryant and Travis Howard both turned in pretty good statistical years. Howard was named a first-team All-Big Ten corner, mainly because of his four interceptions, but Bradley Roby was the star of the secondary. He might have been the star of the defense. He only had two picks, but his 17 pass break-ups were the second-most in the country. This is a kid who could win the Thorpe Award if he comes back next season.

Jack Stephenson Award (Outstanding Defensive Lineman): Johnathan Hankins (2011 Hankins, 2010 Nathan Williams)

Johnathan Hankins
Photo by Jim Davidson
Johnathan Hankins

This one was a lot tougher than it looks. We easily could have, and maybe should have, given it to Simon, who was our Defensive Player of the Year this season. Simon was incredible in a couple of big games this year, but Hankins was the guy brought consistency to what the Buckeyes did up front every week. His tackles-for-loss took a dramatic dip this year, but not his impact.

W.W. Hayes Award (Outstanding Player vs. Michigan): Carlos Hyde (2011 DeVier Posey, 2010 Terrelle Pryor)

Carlos Hyde
Photo by Jim Davidson
Carlos Hyde

A year ago it was DeVier Posey who couldn’t be stopped in Ohio State’s loss up in Ann Arbor. The only thing stopping Posey that day was Braxton Miller’s downfield accuracy. The Wolverines couldn’t stop Miller’s arm in the first half, but it was Hyde who took over the game when it mattered most. The 235-pound tailback ran the ball 26 times for 146 yards and a touchdown in that game as Ohio State got back to its winning ways with a 26-21 victory over the Wolverines.

Breakout Player of the Year: Carlos Hyde (2011 Ryan Shazier, 2010 Andrew Sweat)

Most Improved Player: Corey Linsley (2011 Johnathan Hankins, 2010 Mike Adams)

Clutch Performance: Kenny Guiton (2011 Devin Smith, 2010 Devon Torrence)

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