I am now in possession of two preseason college football magazines. My annual process is to buy Athlon’s B1G issue, because that’s usually the first one on the shelves. Then a week or two later, Lindy’s national magazine will appear, and I’ll purchase that one as well. Those two will then tide me over until Phil Steele’s tome comes out in the summer.
I mainly buy the magazines as resources, but it’s also interesting to get a look at what those outside of the Ohio State bubble think of the Buckeyes. Inside the bubble, we can tend to overrate players or over-criticize them. Sometimes you can get a simpler picture from a thousand miles away, as opposed to a slide underneath a microscope.
On this week’s Accost the Field, Tom Orr and I were talking about the difficulty in ranking some Ohio State positions because all we have are assumptions that they are going to perform. Those assumptions, however, are there for a reason. If you’re a starter at OSU, you should be pretty darn good. But still, can you reasonably rank Dwayne Haskins ahead of established Big Ten quarterbacks like Trace McSorley, Brian Lewerke, Shea Patterson, or Alex Hornibrook?
But we also know that new starters will emerge and some of those starters will earn All-B1G accolades, which is the point of this week’s Five for Friday.
J.K. Dobbins was a first-year starter last year, and he earned second-team honors. Jordan Fuller was named third team last year as well.
The 2016 team had three first-time starters earn first-team honors in Curtis Samuel, Malik Hooker, and Marshon Lattimore.
Could we see something similar from the Buckeyes this year? Maybe. If we do, here are the five likeliest players to get it done. [By the way, so far no new Buckeye starters have been projected as first-team selections by Lindy’s or Athlon.]
1. QB Dwayne Haskins
Dwayne Haskins is going to have his work cut out for him if he is going to top Trace McSorley, but the September 29 game at Penn State will give voters an opportunity to lean one way or the other. McSorley will rush for more yards than Haskins, but if Haskins bests him in passing yards and touchdowns — and wins — then maybe he sneaks in and grabs first-team honors. Or maybe Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke surprises everyone and goes 2-0 against Ohio State and Penn State. There is also Shea Patterson, I suppose.
2. DE Chase Young
I have said on a recent podcast that people need to slow down on the hype for Chase Young and let him fail a bit before saddling him with such lofty expectations. At the time, however, I was just talking about those who want to project him as the top overall draft pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. If he doesn’t end up a First-Team All-Big Ten selection this season, Larry Johnson should be fired. Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh, but I would expect a strongly-worded reprimand in Johnson’s year-end review.
3. DT Robert Landers
I shouldn’t have Robert Landers in the top five, but it’s not because he isn’t a very good player. It’s mainly because it’s going to be a crowded All-Big Ten defensive line, and every spot might be occupied by defensive ends. And if there is a defensive tackle, it could be Dre’Mont Jones. We can assume Nick Bosa will make it, and Michigan defensive ends Chase Winovich and Rashan Gary both made a first-team last year. The fourth spot could come down to Landers, Jones, Chase Young, or any number of other Big Ten defensive linemen.
4. CB Jeff Okudah
Despite the cornerback production at Ohio State, it’s not exactly easy to earn first-team accolades. Perhaps some people look at the numbers and dismiss the production while ignoring the fact that there is a 3-man rotation at the position. Denzel Ward was first-team by the coaches and second-team by the media. The year before, Marshon Lattimore was just the opposite, and Gareon Conley was only good enough for second and third-team recognition. Eli Apple never earned first-team recognition, and Vonn Bell only did it in 2015 thanks to the media. Which brings us to Jeff Okudah, who will move into the rotation this season with the highest of expectations. It won’t be easy, especially when you look at the position just in the state of Michigan.
5. Keandre Jones
If Keandre Jones wins the job at Will replacing Jerome Baker, then he’s going to be in a position to make a bunch of plays for the Buckeyes. Ohio State has had a first-team linebacker in four of Urban Meyer’s six seasons at Ohio State. Only in 2014 and last year did the Buckeyes fail to place somebody on the top team. This is Jones’ third season in the Scarlet and Gray, and if he wins the job, he could put up some impressive numbers.
Bonus: Center TBNL
Whether this is Brady Taylor or Josh Myers, Ohio State has produced the last two Rimington winners, so thinking they can put somebody on the first team isn’t a stretch.
Bonus: Luke Farrell
Okay, this one is a stretch when you consider the fact that only two Buckeye tight ends have been named to the first team in the last 30 years. Ben Hartsock did it in 2003 and Rickey Dudley did it in 1995.
Bonus: Jonathon Cooper
Yeah, so I’m pretty much just listing every new starter here in the bonus section, but we can’t be forgetting about Jonathon Cooper.
Bonus: Malik Harrison
Malik Harrison may be the most athletic linebacker on the roster, but will it manifest itself in production this season? If he wins a starting job, it better.
Bonus: Isaiah Pryor
The staff was very cautious about praising Isaiah Pryor this spring, instead reiterating that he has not won a spot yet. They did the same thing with Jordan Fuller the year before.
Bonus: Thayer Munford
A sophomore starting at left tackle? If he can hold off the rest of the Buckeye offensive linemen vying for a starting spot, then maybe he’ll emerge and reach his potential a little earlier than expected.