"Eddie George told me the Heisman isn't won in October, it's won in November."
After putting up three straight games of 200 rushing yards or more to end last season, Ezekiel Elliott was one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy heading into this season. LSU running back Leonard Fournette jumped out early this season as the favorite with some of his phenomenal performances, but Elliott has been lurking in the discussion and lately has been picking up steam. All Elliott has done this year is rush for 100 yards or more in every game, and dating back to last year has cracked the 100-yard mark in 14 straight games. While Ohio State has dealt with inconsistency at quarterback this season, Elliott has been the one constant on offense. The running back knows he isn't achieving the success he has so far this season without The Slobs, and that's why Elliott treated the offensive line to a dinner at Hyde Park during the bye week.
The rise to stardom hasn't been without hiccups though. Last year before the Illinois game, Urban Meyer and Stan Drayton were concerned with Elliott missing classes and tutoring, so they decided the running back wouldn't start in the game. Following Elliott's 20th birthday in July, he was 35 minutes late for a morning workout, which Elliott was remorseful for. The punishment for Elliott was for strength coach Mickey Marotti to put him in a workout group with The Slobs, which was just what Elliott needed. Now Elliott is back to the running back Ohio State fans saw to end last year, and if the Buckeyes are going to repeat as championship this year it will be because the junior again will have put the team on his back.
"Eight seniors starters are sure to leave. Three juniors with first-round talent (Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, Michael Thomas) are most assuredly heading to the NFL Draft. Three more underclassmen certainly have reasons to leave that make sense."
After winning the national title last year, Ohio State was lucky to not have a mass exodus to the NFL and for that reason they are in the mix to defend their title. The Buckeyes can't say the same for next year, as there is a possibility that 14 starters will need to be replaced, with eight of those definite since they are senior starters. Defensive lineman Tommy Schutt, Adolphus Washington, and linebacker Joshua Perry are seniors, so it is already known they'll need to be replaced next year. Defensive lineman Joey Bosa is being mentioned as a possible first overall pick in the NFL Draft, so it makes sense for him to turn professional. It will be interesting to see what Darron Lee, Vonn Bell, and Tyvis Powell decide to do, since they have tremendous upside, but can return to Columbus next year if they want.
On the offensive side of the football, the main area of concern for the Buckeyes is on the offensive line. Taylor Decker, Jacoby Boren, and Chase Farris are all seniors, and there is a possibility Pat Elflein could declare for the drafft. The good news is the Buckeyes had a strong offensive line recruiting class in 2015, so they have plenty of talent to take over. Another big loss for Ohio State would be if Elliott declares for the draft, but with Curtis Samuel and Mike Weber waiting to step in, it would at least cushion some of the blow of losing Elliott. At least a couple areas where Buckeye fans can breathe easy is at wide receiver and quarterback. While J.T. Barrett and Jalin Marshall will be redshirt juniors, it would be quite a shock if either wasn't back playing for Ohio State next year.
"I tell him, he's playing more than I played my rookie year. When I wasn't playing, I was always observing, always studying and trying to learn as much as I can. It doesn't mean you can't get frustrated or upset or down about it. But you get in the gym early, you work as hard as you possibly can so when you're moment comes, you're ready."
When D'Angelo Russell was taken with the second pick in June's NBA Draft, it was thought the Los Angeles Lakers had big plans for the sophomore guard from Ohio State. Those plans are taking a little longer to get going than many have anticipated, with Russell sitting on the bench during most of the fourth quarters in this young season. Wednesday night saw Russell get a taste of some of the late-game pressure, as he played the final seven minutes in a 101-99 loss to Orlando. Russell isn't getting discouraged though, even though many Lakers fans are questioning Byron Scott's use of Russell late in games.
What has kept Russell on the bench late in games so far this season has been Scott's concerns about Russell's defense. The head coach of the Lakers just wants Russell to be fully prepared for when he sees big minutes late in games. For many though, the explanation from Scott leaves a lot to be desired since Los Angeles has struggled out of the gates to a 1-7 start. The former Buckeye has had mixed results so far this year, but showed promise with his 14 point performance on Wednesday night. The 31 minutes Russell played against the Magic were a season-high. With a player like Kobe Bryant to learn from, it's likely there won't be many more games where Russell is sitting on the bench late in the fourth quarter in close games.
"It's hard not to notice them because it has become an epidemic."
- Rick Van Brimmer , director of Ohio State's Trademark and Licensing Services via Ari Wasserman, Cleveland.com
Before the season Ohio State announced they would only be selling jerseys with No. 1 and No. 15 this year, but it hasn't stopped Buckeye fans from sporting jerseys of their favorite players this fall. So how are fans getting their hands on jerseys with the numbers of Joey Bosa, Darron Lee, and others? They are heading to the internet to try and find counterfeit versions of those jerseys. EBay, Amazon, and other on-line outlets are places where Ohio State fans can find some of the fake jerseys, often times for less than what the university is selling legit jerseys for.
Jersey sales make up less than one percent of Ohio State's revenue through apparel, but that doesn't mean the university isn't concerned about the uptick in counterfeit uniforms. What is most concerning to the university is in terms of production of the uniforms, and if the workers creating the counterfeits are being treated fairly. It used to be easier to intercept counterfeit uniforms when they were shipped into the United States via a port of entry, but now when the items can be shipped directly to the consumer, it's a lot harder to cut down on the counterfeits. While most fans won't be too concerned whether these jerseys are counterfeit or not, it's still a big deal to the university in the fight to protect their brand.
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