With a shocking loss to Iowa at the beginning of the month, Ohio State’s post-season plans are anything but secured as they enter this Saturday’s Big Ten Championship game against the Wisconsin Badgers. However, one thing that is for sure, is that their talent is still extraordinary.
After getting a total of 16 players selected to the Big Ten’s All-Conference teams as selected by the coaches (seven on offense, nine on defense and special teams), not to mention a handful of honorable mentions, on Thursday, the B1G announced their individual award winners for various players of the year. Ohio State had 3 players receive honors for their individual performances in 2017.
Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year: J.T. Barrett
For the third time in his four year career (previously in 2014 and 2016), Barrett has been selected as the Big Ten’s best quarterback. With nearly three dozen school and conference records under his belt, the Wichita Falls, Tex. native just might be the most under-appreciated player in college football history.
This season, Barrett has accounted for 2,728 passing yards and 672 rushing yards, racking up 42 total touchdowns. His 33 through the air are just one shy of his career high; a mark that, should he be healthy enough to play again this season, he should be able to break. His passing total was second most in the Big Ten behind Penn State’s Trace McSorley, while his touchdowns through the air led the B1G and currently sit at fifth nationally.
Despite his literally unparalleled success, his lack of “big-play ability” has led many to question throughout his career if he was the right man for the job. Undaunted, the QB is Ohio State’s first three-time captain, and the first starting quarterback to collect four victories in the 114-year history of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry.
Putting all the whispers and calls for his job aside, Barrett is on the brink of leading his team to the College Football Playoff for the third time in his storied four-year career, and he has yet another well-deserved accolade to add to his legacy.
With Barrett’s third win in this category, it marks the fifth time in the award’s seven-year history that it has been won by an Ohio State quarterback. Braxton Miller previously won in 2012 and 2013.
Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year: Billy Price
Having already been a first-team All-American performer at guard, Price returned to Ohio State for his senior season to continue the long line of heralded Buckeye centers. A two-time captain, Price followed in the foot steps of Pat Elflein who moved from guard to center, and immediately into a starting position in the NFL.
With Elflein, and Taylor Decker before him, Price becomes the third consecutive Buckeye to win the award, named in part for Ohio State legend Orlando Pace. The late Korey Stringer won the award twice in 1993 and 1994 and was immediately followed by Pace’s two wins in 1995 and 1996 (obviously before the award was named for him). Buckeye LeCharles Bentley also took home the prize in 2001.
Earlier this month, Price set the school record for consecutive starts in a career, a total that currently sits at 53. Price is also on pace to tie Elflein for the most games played by a Buckeye, and should Ohio State make the College Football Playoff, barring injury, Price would be able to claim the mark for himself.
Though the starters have played sparingly in the second half in much of the season, Price has been one of the leaders on the offensive line that has allowed the Buckeyes to have the most productive offense (593.5 ypg) in the conference, and fourth nationally.
Similarly, OSU has rushed for the most yards (250.33 pg) in the B1G, while allowing just 4.33 tackles for loss per fame, the best in the conference, and 1.58 sacks per game, good for third in the B1G.
Already named to the All-Big Ten team, Price has been an vocal leader for the Buckeyes, especially following their loss to Iowa in early November. A two-time OSU Scholar-Athlete, and Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, this marks another piece of history that Price will carry with him into what is sure to be a first-round selection in the spring’s NFL Draft.
Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year: Nick Bosa
Following in the foot steps of his legendary big brother, Nick Bosa won the 2017 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year award, just as Joey did in 2014 and 2015. In fact, Nick Bosa’s award marks the fourth straight for Ohio State with Tyquan Lewis receiving the honor in 2016. John Simon also claimed the prize in 2012.
With the philosophy of Ohio State’s defensive line coach Larry Johnson to rotate through as many high-performing players as possible to keep the front line fresh, it is difficult for any Buckeye to accumulate standout stats, but Nick Bosa has recorded 12.5 tackles for loss in his sophomore season, good for eighth best in the league; a ranking that his six sacks match.
However, what separates little Bosa (and all of OSU’s rushmen for that matter) is his ability to disrupt what the offense would like to do even before the ball is snapped. An absolute freak of an athlete, #97 must be accounted for at all times. So even if the play-call is simply to run away from Bosa, his mere presence has impacted the play, making it easier for one of his teammates to make a stop.
After being a Freshman All-American and OSU Scholar Athlete last year, Bosa was named to his first All-Conference first team earlier this week, and with at least one more year in Columbus (we assume), it seems clear that the Fort Lauderdale-native will have quite a few more honors to compare to his brother’s when all is said and done.