"Ohio State senior left tackle Taylor Decker and junior defensive end Joey Bosa were each named today as a semifinalist for the 46th Lombardi Award. The two Buckeyes are the only teammates among the 12 semifinalists, a group that includes a conference-high five Big Ten Conference players."
As the college football season has reached November, award watch lists start to get pared down, and today it was announced that both Taylor Decker and Joey Bosa were named semifinalists for the Lombardi Award, given annually to the best college football lineman or linebacker. Ohio State has produced six Lombardi Award winners, which ranks as the most, with A.J. Hawk being the last Buckeye to win the award back in 2005. Decker has started 37 consecutive games for the Buckeyes, and has been the leader of an Ohio State offensive line that is averaging 247 yards per game rushing this year, which ranks 13th best in the country. Running back Ezekiel Elliott has greatly benefitted from the work of Decker and the rest of the offensive line, as he has rushed for 100 yards or more in 13 straight games, which is currently the longest streak in the country.
Following last year's season in which he was a finalist for the Lombardi Award, it isn't much of a surprise to see Joey Bosa in the mix again for the prestigious honor. While the season started slow for Bosa, his production has picked up lately, as he has racked up 11 tackles-for-loss this season, which ranks fourth in the Big Ten. For his career, Bosa has 24.5 quarterback sacks, which ranks first among active players. Bosa has already been named a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award and is on the midseason watch list for the Ted Hendricks Award.
"At practice, he's the guy I always go to now. He'll come talk to me about either tempo or any issues I need to deal with. He's really taken on the role for me of [former captain] Jeff Heuerman a year ago."
Michael Thomas' Ohio State career may have gotten off to a bit of a slow start, but the redshirt junior has been making up for lost time the past two years. Early on in his career, Thomas was known for showing loads of potential in Ohio State's spring games, but then not making much noise during the regular season. During his freshman year, Thomas caught just three passes and the next year Thomas was given a rare redshirt as a sophomore. Last year Thomas really made a name for himself though, catching 54 passes for 799 yards and nine touchdowns, becoming a key part of an explosive Ohio State offense.
When Thomas committed to Ohio State, what he was most known for was being the nephew of former NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson. The USC star was hoping his nephew would follow in his footsteps and play for the Trojans, but then-USC coach Lane Kiffin wasn't interested in the three-star receiver. Urban Meyer has reaped the benefits of USC passing on Thomas, as the wide receiver looks like he'll be taken high in either this year's draft or next year's, depending on if Thomas declares for the NFL Draft following this season. With great size and hands, Thomas will make whatever NFL team that drafts him as happy as he has made Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes.
"I probably scare a lot of people."
Jalin Marshall knows exactly what he does to Ohio State fans when he goes to field a punt. It's hard to fault the Buckeye faithful for having their heart jump into their throats when Marshall even gets close to a football when it is punted towards him. With Marshall it has pretty must been bust or boom, since he has had numerous instances where he has come close to breaking a punt return for a touchdown, but he has also had issues with fumbling some of his returns. Even with the inconsistency with the results of his returns, Marshall is too explosive of a player to keep off of punt returns.
So far this year Marshall has returned 17 punts and is averaging 13.7 yards per return. The longest return on the season is 38 yards, but he has yet to duplicate the 54-yard punt return for a touchdown that he registered last year against Indiana. The redshirt sophomore knows that he has to be more careful with the football, and has made an effort to secure the football better by changing the way he carries the football once he gathers it in. Improvements are being seen though in field punts for Marshall, as after having problems muffing punts last year, Marshall has yet to do so this year. It feels like only a matter of time before Marshall adds another punt return touchdown to his growing stat totals.
"It's the deal of they're gonna have to watch a lot of film, be real students of the game. The good thing with A.J. and JaQuan is you have different types of players. I think that's one of the things that you hope, like an Aaron Craft did his freshman year, kind of came in and shocked everybody."
Ohio State's basketball team will play an exhibition game on Sunday before tipping off their regular season next Sunday, and one of the biggest questions this year for the Buckeyes is who will end up playing point guard. Freshmen A.J. Harris and JaQuan Lyle will both get a crack at starting at point guard for the Buckeyes, but who ends up getting the bulk of the minutes will depend on performance. Luckily for Ohio State, Thad Matta has had a lot of experience at turning freshman point guards into strong leaders.
The first star freshman point guard to take the reigns for a Matta team in Columbus was Mike Conley, but with how highly rated Conley was coming out of high school, it wasn't much of a surprise to see Conley excel in his only year playing for the Buckeyes. Following Conley, Aaron Craft made a name for himself early and went to handle the point guard position for Ohio State for four years, becoming one of the most beloved Buckeye point guards during his time in Columbus. Last year Matta had the luxury of being able to lean on D'Angelo Russell, and his performance for the Buckeyes throughout the year resulted in him being taken second in the NBA Draft in June. Matta knows there will be some growing pains with Lyle and Harris at point guard, but is excited for what both are able to bring to the table for his basketball team.
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