Former Buckeye quarterback Joe Burrow won the 2019 Heisman Trophy Saturday night. He was one of four current or former Buckeyes to finish in the Top 6 of the award’s voting.
Sophomore quarterback Justin Fields finished third, junior defensive end Chase Young finished fourth, and junior running back JK Dobbins finished sixth. Dobbins wasn’t one of the four finalists, however, so he had to watch the ceremony from home.
Of those three, only Fields is expected to be back at Ohio State next season. As a sophomore, Fields is not yet eligible for the NFL draft. Young and Dobbins, however, are — and both are expected to forego their respective senior seasons and turn pro.
Their departures, along with OSU’s annual level of talent returning, can’t help but make one wonder if Ohio State can repeat its feat next year by sending multiple players to the 2020 Heisman Trophy ceremony.
There are players of varying likelihoods to make the trip, which is exactly how we will split it up here.
The Best Bet
The Heisman folks should just go ahead and book Justin Fields’ same hotel for next year because he will enter the 2020 season as one of the Heisman favorites nationally.
Who knows what a junior season will look like for Fields, but 3,500 total yards and 50 touchdowns as a sophomore is one hell of an indicator. And next year he may actually have to play in more fourth quarters for the Buckeyes because they will be losing so much on the defense, so those numbers will be even bigger next season.
The Next Level
Even though JK Dobbins did not get an invitation as a finalist, looking at running back is the first place to go, and next year that appears to be Master Teague. Teague was the Buckeyes’ closer for much of this season, entering the game in the fourth quarter of blowouts in order to stifle the opponent and subdue them into submission.
Teague has rushed for 780 yards this season, which is three times what Ezekiel Elliott rushed for as a true freshman in 2013, and less than 300 yards below what Dobbins went for last year as a sophomore. Teague is seventh nationally in yards rushing in the fourth quarter this season (359), which is only 63 yards behind the national lead.
It would be incredibly rare for a Buckeye wide receiver to make it as a finalist. However, prior to this year it would have been rare for a defender to do it. Seeing Chase Young on the stage this year proves that anything is possible for the supremely talented.
Wide receiver Chris Olave might be one such player for the Buckeyes. Olave has shown what he is capable of in his first two years, but this has really been just a glimpse.
Olave doesn’t get involved in returning kicks, so that will limit him as a candidate, but he does get involved in blocking them, which could be an interesting angle. Above everything else, however, is that he will have to put up monster numbers.
Olave will be the leader of the receiver crew next season as a junior and will garner the most attention. He won’t have more than 70 catches by December of next year, so what he does with those catches will determine if he makes the trip to New York.
The Sneaky Longshots
When Charles Woodson played both ways back in the mid-to-late 90s, it became something that more people talked about doing.
The Buckeyes did it very successfully with Chris Gamble in 2002. Prior to that season, OSU safety Mike Doss wanted to play some offense and special teams, though it never came to fruition. Running back Maurice Clarett even talked about playing some linebacker back in 2002 as well.
The point being that maybe with Chase Young making it to New York this year, perhaps this is a thing that becomes the norm and next year voters will be looking for another Buckeye defender to earn the invite.
That defender — provided he doesn’t enter the draft early — could be cornerback Shaun Wade. Everybody saw Wade’s importance with his absence against Michigan. If he returns, not only could he end up a top 10 pick, but maybe he makes the award circuit like very few defenders before him.
And lastly, if you’re looking for a very sneaky longshot, why not go with the Buckeye who has just seven career receptions to his name.
Jaelen Gill is finishing up his redshirt freshman season as a backup to KJ Hill, but next year that No. 1 H-back job is going to be wide open and right now it’s Gill’s job to lose.
Because Ohio State has played so many two tight end sets this season, there hasn’t been as many opportunities for a second H-back. The same will likely hold true next year, but as the No. 1 H-back, Gill could be in line for anywhere from 50-100 touches, depending on what he can do with the ball.
Everybody develops in their own time, so don’t get too hung up on the quiet start to Gill’s career.
Parris Campbell — who caught 90 passes last season as the Buckeyes’ No. 1 H-back — didn’t catch his first pass until his third year on campus. And neither did Terry McLaurin.