So, what exactly does it mean to be placed on a "watch list"? Well, to football players, it means that the various athletic clubs around the country who sponsor national yearly college football awards believe you have the talent necessary to win their award at the end of the year. Obviously hardly any of the players will be in contention when everything's said and done, and many players on the lists are at best a stretch to even be in the mix. These watch lists are usually pretty large and comprehensive, and are more of a recognition of a player's skill or production potential. Especially when there are players on the list from Northeast Mississippi State Technical College and Bait Shop or something.
Corey "Philly" Brown is on the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award, going to the nation's top wide receiver. Defensive linemen Johnathan Hankins and John Simon are on the watch list for the Nagurski award, for the nation's top defensive player. We've also seen Jake Stoneburner named to the Mackey Award (top tight end) watch list and Braxton Miller to the Davey O'Brien (top quarterback) award's.
However, these watch lists also all have players on them that are almost assuredly NOT going to win the award. For example, also on the Nagurski award: Tulane linebacker Trent Mackey. Now I'm sure that Trent Mackey is a fine player, but not really the type of player from the type of school who would ever get enough attention to win a prestigious postseason award. So, why are these players on the list? To remind everyone that these awards exist in the first place, first and foremost, and then I guess to cover their bases so if someone has an impromptu break out season, it's less damning when they add them at the eleventh hour (but this does happen).
On the flip side, why is Philly Brown even being mentioned with the best wide receivers in college football? He had a grand total of 14 catches last year and was mostly a non-factor, along with the entire Buckeye passing game. What past performance could possibly justify putting him on the list for the Biletnikoff award? The answer: I don't know and probably none. The justification arises from Brown being a possible first option on a high-profile team. No one at this point is going to say that Philly Brown is one of the top 10 wide receivers in the country, but at this point, due to the fact that he exists on the high-profile, high-exposure Buckeyes, well, there he is.
As more awards release their respective watch lists, let's take a look at the Buckeyes who could not only possibly emerge as candidates for the major awards, but who the hell knows, maybe win one or two. Let's create our own all-Buckeye "watch list". These players could be among the actual final candidates for their awards when the season's all said and done.
Braxton Miller: Davey O'Brien award (best QB), Maxwell Award (College POY), Heisman Trophy (Best player in CFB). This is not to say that Braxton Miller will win the Heisman. However, because of the flashes he showed last year and the way that Urban Meyer's offense emphasizes quarterback play, it is possible that Miller may end up in the top three of one of these awards when 2012 comes to a close. It seems more likely that the 2013 season is Miller's year to be mentioned among the best at his position in the sport.
John Simon: Nagurski Award, Lombardi Award (best lineman), Bednarik Award (best defensive player), Outland Trophy (best interior lineman, offense or defense). John Simon, as we all know, is a beast. He is Urban Meyer's defensive captain, and Meyer has even compared Simon's leadership ability to Tim Tebow's. Simon is one of the best players in the country and definitely could very easily creep his way into the final debates for just about every major defensive award.
Ben Buchanan: Ray Guy Award (best punter). Ohio State has a tradition of big-legged punters, and Buchanan is no exception. He certainly has the physical tools to win this award, but his accuracy and consistency is in question. If he improves these qualities, he has as good of a shot as anyone in the country. The only thing standing in his way is himself. And LSU's Brad Wing, who really should have won it last year but wasn't even in the running (lol, awards).
Jake Stoneburner: Mackey Award (best tight end). Stoneburner also somehow wound up on the Lombardi award watch list, but his true talents lie as a pass catcher, not as a blocker. He is much more likely to be a finalist for the Mackey at the end of the year, provided he can finally just find somewhere to urinate that isn't in front of a police officer in a public space.
Bradley Roby: Thorpe Award (best defensive back). It's not a stretch to think that a redshirt sophomore cornerback could make this list. Tyrann Mathieu, while not honored in the three finalists for this award last year, was in consideration and was a finalist for the more prestigious Bednarik award. If Roby continues to build on the flashes of brilliance he was prone to last year, despite playing in a sub-Ohio State's spoiled past secondary, who knows?
So which Buckeyes can actually win any of the major awards? Who in particular are you keeping an eye on?