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Why is this news?: 4 Ohio State players named ESPN preseason All-Americans, could Ohio State compete in the SEC

All the big Ohio State news, in one helpful place.

Ezekiel Elliott was one of four Buckeyes named to the ESPN preseason All-America team
Ezekiel Elliott was one of four Buckeyes named to the ESPN preseason All-America team
Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

After plenty of Buckeyes have been named to numerous "watch lists" over the past couple weeks, the accolades have continued to roll in for the defending national champions, as four Buckeyes were named to the ESPN preseason All-America team. The team was revealed in ESPN's college football preview issue, which is on sale now, and features quarterback Cardale Jones on the cover.

After being named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year last year, it is no surprise that Joey Bosa was named in the All-America team, especially with projections that they defensive end would likely be one of the top picks in the 2016 NFL Draft if he decides to forego his senior season following this year. After huge performances in the final three games of last year, Ezekiel Elliott has been named to the preseason team by ESPN, who named the running back and Jones as Heisman Trophy candidates. Rounding out the Buckeye representatives are Taylor Decker and Pat Elflein on the offensive line, who help Ohio State represent two of the five spots on the unit named by ESPN.

"I think Ohio State is the only team that you could put in here. And I don't think Ohio State would come in the SEC and win it. I think they'd still lose because there's so many good games you'd have to play, but I think they're the most complete team in college football."

ESPN college football analyst David Pollock via Natalie Pierre Williams, AL.com

How just a few years have changed things for the Ohio State football team. After years of being on the end of jokes due to their poor performance against the conference, now some are seeing the Buckeyes as a team that would be able to compete in the conference. A lot of the change has to do with the hiring of Urban Meyer, who has experience coaching in the SEC from his time at Florida. Meyer helped the Buckeyes to erase some of the demons over the years when he led Ohio State to a win the Sugar Bowl against Alabama with a third-string quarterback on their way to eventually winning the national title. Coming into last year many thought the Buckeyes might be a year away from competing for the national title, especially after the preseason injury to Braxton Miller, but now Ohio State is a popular pick to repeat this year.

Even with the praise for Ohio State as being a team that would be able to compete in the conference, it might be asking a little much to expect them to run through the conference undefeated and win the league, especially when considering the depth that the SEC possesses. Eight of the 14 teams in the SEC are ranked in Phil Steele's 2015 preseason Top 25, with another two teams making the Top 40. While Ohio State earns the praise from Pollock as the only team he thinks would be able to compete in the SEC this year, the Big Ten as a whole isn't right behind the SEC in terms of conference ranks according to the former Georgia player. Pollock views the Pac-12 as the "next closest league" to the SEC in terms of depth.

"It makes you thankful for the little things. We get to play at Ohio State but we have our health ... It's a humbling experience because we just come here and visit these kids for five to 10 minutes and it makes their day."

Ohio State offensive tackle Taylor Decker via Tim May, The Columbus Dispatch

When Urban Meyer took the job as Ohio State's head coach in late November of 2011 he said "We're going to make the great state of Ohio proud with everything we do.".  On Wednesday at Nationwide Hospital some of the offensive linemen, as well as co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner, were making good on that promise as they were visiting some of the young patients in the hospital. These types of actions have become the norm for Buckeye players since Meyer took over as head coach. Visits to hospitals, schools, and other acts of community service have become part of what Meyer expects from his players, and continues on what legendary coach Woody Hayes practiced with "paying forward".

While Buckeye players have plenty of demands on their time with classes and football, it isn't very hard to get them out for these visits. With how much the visits from the Buckeyes mean to the young patients, it makes it easy for the players to want to get out and try to brighten the days of those kids as much as their schedules allow for it. Pat Elflein, Taylor Decker, and Jacoby Boren made 12-year-old Aidan Leiberline an honorary member of "The Slobs" after they found out about the admiration had for the group. What Leiberline also found out is that the trio of linemen aren't nearly as good at video games as quarterback Cardale Jones, as Leiberline was able to best all three linemen at a racing game.

"I just feel like Ohio State is getting a guy who comes in and wants to win. I'll be a new guy -- I'm an older guy -- but I'm a new guy on a team that was very successful last year. I'm just going to come in, work hard and do what it takes to the next level."

Pitcher Alex Hermeling via Nick Buckley, Battle Creek Enquirer

With football season just around the corner, Buckeye baseball season is probably the last thing on the minds of many around Columbus. The good news for fans is the Buckeyes have a graduate student transferring in for the upcoming season who has spent the summer trying to improve his pitching. After spending his college career at the University of Louisiana-Monroe, Alex Hermeling has decided to move to Ohio State as a graduate transfer. The 6-foot-6, 230-pound right hander has spent the summer pitching for the Battle Creek Bombers in the Northwoods League. Hermeling was picked in the 43rd round in the 2011 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but hopes a strong season in Columbus can help him to see him taken higher next year.

In his final season with the Warhawks, Hermeling struggled some, posting a 4-7 record with a 4.14 ERA, but so far this summer with Battle Creek he has done nothing but impress. Hermeling was named the opening day starter for the Bombers and has pitched like the ace of the staff, striking out 50 batters and recording a 1.22 ERA so far in 51 2/3 innings over eight starts. The performance of Hermeling so far this year has been impressive enough to earn him a spot in the Northwoods League All-Star Game on July 21st. Hopefully the experience that Hermeling has earned during the Northwoods League season will carry over to when the Buckeye baseball team takes the field next year.

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