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What role will Ohio State play in next week’s first early signing period?

And, did Nick Bosa really deserve to be an All-American?

Michigan v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

“The Buckeyes could own both distinctions in ’18. Their class occupies the No. 1 slot in the 247Sports Composite with 21 verbals and an average player rating of 94.87, slightly better than their nation-best finish last year.”

-Chris Johnson,

This year is the dawn of a new era in college football. No longer are players required to wait until the first Wednesday of February to officially sign their National Letters of Intent. With the increase of players graduating early and starting college in January, the NCAA has seen fit to open up a three-day, early signing period for FBS college football that kicks off on Dec. 20.

Whether it is this new-fangled window, or the traditional early February date, it’s been impossible to discuss college football recruiting without mentioning Ohio State ever since Urban Meyer got to Columbus, and in Johnson’s SI article, he breaks down what this 72-hour period will look like, and in many of the biggest stories, the Buckeyes will be a significant player.

After the Buckeyes got commitments from two highly pursued, four-star talents last night, they extended their lead in all of the recruiting rankings, but as we know from the great Stevie Wonder, nothing can be sealed and delivered until it is first signed.

So, the big story heading into next week is what will Heard County (Ga.) quarterback Emory Jones decide to do? (Jones is currently ranked as the 40th player nationally, and the fourth highest dual threat QB.) After committing to the Buckeyes in summer 2016 he has reaffirmed his position in the class multiple times, but regular trips to Alabama and Auburn have raised concerns; so much so that another QB committed to OSU just last week.

However, as WR Kamryn Babb made his intentions to play in Columbus known last night, Jones tweeted at him, “Congrats Family #ZONE6” followed by a series of OSU related emojis and a picture of the two on the field together at Ohio Stadium, but the tweet has since been removed.

While the Buckeyes now have a “back-up” quarterback in the 2018 class, there’s no doubt that losing a talent like Jones would be a significant blow to OSU’s plans.

“It’s crazy, reflecting on the seasons really shows how similar USC and OSU were this season. There were statements wins, there were disastrous losses, and there are conference titles.”

-Brendan Kearney, Conquest Chronicles

When our friends over at the USC SB Nation site Conquest Chronicles laid out the progression of the Ohio State season, it was a bit startling to relive the ups and downs of the year. As always, expectations for this Ohio State team were incredibly high to start the season, but, be it poor execution or head-scratching playcalling, another national championship run wasn’t in the cards.

However, there were a lot of great things borne out of this season that bode well for the Cotton Bowl and for the future; for example, the emergence of J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber as one of the most explosive stables of difference-making running backs in the country, the rotating talent and depth of the rushmen on the defensive front, and the potential found in Dwayne Haskins’ right arm.

While a big bowl win over a storied rival like USC is obviously something worth focusing on, it’s hard not to see the Buckeyes’ final game of 2017 as the end of one era, and the beginning of another. But, perhaps the most compelling part of the article is to compare this OSU campaign to Southern Cal’s own roller coaster ride in 2017.

Like Ohio State, the Trojans entered the season with a heralded quarterback in Sam Darnold and national title aspirations, only to have inconsistency derail their dreams. So, now that both conference champions have found themselves in a traditional Rose Bowl matchup deep in the heart of Texas, how will they stack up in a New Year’s Six Bowl that has much less on the line than what they had envisioned before the season began?

While LGHL’s Christopher Jason gave us a quick nuts and bolts intro to USC’s offense last week, taking a look at the top-line season statistics give you an indication as to why the Buckeyes opened up as nearly a touchdown favorite. While the two offenses are comparable (OSU ranks sixth nationally, while USC 15), the difference might be in how the defenses perform. On the season, OSU ranks eighth in total defense, while the Trojans are 76th.

We will have much more on the ins and outs of the game as the month progresses, but, for all their similarities, if it’s assumed that both offenses will perform as they have all season, the winner will likely be determined by whether USC’s defense can out-perform it’s track-record and shut down J.T. Barrett and the Buckeye offense; and I’m certainly not going to bet against #16 in his final game in the Scarlet and Gray.

“And the Bosas thus join the Griffins – Archie and younger brother Ray – as the only other brother tandem in Ohio State history to earn first-team All-America accolades. Archie was a three-time All-American (1973-74-75) and Ray was an All-American in 1977.”

-The Ohio State University

First thing’s first, congratulations to Nick Bosa on his first career first-team All-America selection, as well as to Billy Price and Denzel Ward for adding another accolade to their hauls.

Second thing’s second, I think Nick Bosa is a beast, and I am very glad that the Buckeyes will have his talents for one more year (assuming that he doesn’t skip his junior season to prep for the draft).

However, third thing’s third, I can’t shake the feeling that these postseason honors for the younger Bosa are at least partially due to his last name. Without a doubt, Bosa has been a terror for opposing offenses this season, even though he is just one of many incredibly productive defensive linemen for the Buckeyes.

But, when you look at his stats, his inclusion is a little suspect, leading you to wonder if he is filling up his trophy case on his (and his brother’s) reputation. His 14.5 tackles for loss lead the team, but tie him for 30th nationally, and his seven sacks are good for 39th in the country; and keep in mind that he had the benefit of the Big Ten Championship game to add to his stats.

Clearly it has been taken into account that OSU d-line coach Larry Johnson’s philosophy is to rotate players in more freely than on most teams, meaning that Bosa’s numbers are not as high as they would be if he had played as many snaps as some of the other award contenders. But, at some point, don’t awards need to be decided by what actually happens on the field, and not the perceived impact that someone could have on a game if he was playing more on a team that didn’t have a whole slew of NFL-level defensive line talent?

Look, I don’t begrudge Bosa his Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year Award or any of his All-American honors, I just think that in a year in which there could have been serious debate as to who the best Buckeye d-lineman was (when you you include Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis), it looks odd to have Nick Bosa clearly being celebrated on a much larger scale.