COLUMBUS, Ohio — A total of 10 Buckeyes were named First or Second-Team All-Big Ten last season, but only three of those players return in 2014. In 2012, there were 11 Buckeyes who were named to the First or Second Team.
Five for Friday: Under-the-Radar All-Conference Candidates for 2014 OSU Football
By Tony Gerdeman
Then there was the forgettable 2011 season when John Simon was the lone Buckeye named to either of the first two teams. In 2010, there were again 11 Buckeyes named to the teams, and surprisingly, Terrelle Pryor wasn't one of them.
The point of going down memory lane? Ohio State has had double digit All-Big Ten honorees in three of the past four seasons, which leads me to believe that they'll be there again in 2014. The trouble is, they only return three such players, which means they'll have to find seven more somewhere else on the roster.
Who will those players be? That's what we're trying to answer. What I have listed below are the five (or so) candidates most likely to end up with some postseason accolades after receiving none, or the bare minimum, in 2013.
1. DE - Joey Bosa
Joey Bosa is the no-brainer on the list. He was an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten selection a year ago as a true freshman who was still learning the college game. Now he's no longer just a bull in a china shop, he's also the store manager. Bosa will not only show up on All-Big Ten lists, but he'll appear on some All-American lists as well.
2. RB - Ezekiel Elliott
Since I went easy with number one, I thought we'd go a little more risky with number two. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 24 yards per game in 2013, and he'll need to add another 100 yards to that average in order to make All-Big Ten. But the funny thing is that as Ohio State's #1 runner, he'll have more than enough opportunity to do so.
3. TE - Jeff Heuerman
Jeff Heuerman finished second in the Big Ten in receiving yards (466) among true tight ends last season. The player ahead of him, Wisconsin's Jacob Pedersen, has now graduated. Heuerman's role should only increase, as should his effectiveness. With a passing offense that is looking for receivers, Braxton Miller could find Heuerman a very reliable solution.
4. S - Vonn Bell
Okay, so Jeff Heuerman was a pretty easy pick, so I had to make another stretch pick here. That being said, Vonn Bell was one of the reasons I chose this topic. He finally got a chance to show people what he could do in the Orange Bowl and he responded in a very positive manner. Imagine the plays he will make with 70 snaps a game to choose from
5. LT - Taylor Decker
Just behind Joey Bosa, this is the second-easiest pick. Taylor Decker moves to the marquee position of left tackle, which means he'll have quite a bit of spotlight on him. He has shown himself to be quite capable of handling what is put in front of him. Plus, Khalil Mack is headed to the NFL, so he is no longer a concern.
Bonus: DB - Cameron Burrows
Are you seeing a pattern now? Easy pick, risky pick, easy pick, risky pick, which means that Cameron Burrows falls under the risky pick category. We're not even sure what position he'll be playing yet, and if it's the nickel back, then he'll have to play extremely well to make it onto any lists.
Bonus: P - Cameron Johnston
Along with Joey Bosa and Taylor Decker, I think Cameron Johnston is a top three lock in this category. There are some very good punters returning to the Big Ten, but Johnston is coming off of a season where he led the conference in punting as a true freshman from a different continent.
Bonus: CB - Doran Grant
In the last 10 seasons, the Buckeyes have had a First-Team All-Big Ten cornerback nine times. There have only been three seasons in that span without a first teamer on the roster. Doran Grant enters 2014 as the odds-on favorite to add to that list for the Buckeyes. He was an Honorable Mention pick in 2013, so it's time for the next step.
Bonus: OG - Pat Elflein
Considering the fact that Pat Elflein has exactly one start under his belt, projecting him to be an All-Big Ten player could be called a reach. I would agree with that assessment, which is why he's this far down the list. Still, he always performed well when he was called upon.
Bonus: DL - Adolphus Washington
Ah, the forgotten man. Adolphus Washington may not even have a spot yet on the Ohio State defensive line. If he finds one, however, he will produce, because he's too good not to. He was a popular pick to be All-Conference this time a year ago, so why shouldn't he still be today?
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