“In total, 31 programs are represented across the two teams of 54 selections. Ohio State leads the way with six total selections and ties LSU with four first-teamers. Alabama totaled five selections with Wisconsin (four) next followed by Oklahoma and Oregon (three each).”
With a little hiatus between meaningful college football games — outside this upcoming weekend’s Army-Navy game of course — we turn our attention to award season and honors lists, of which Ohio State players have been cleaning up as of late. It was a phenomenal season for the Buckeyes, one they will look to make historic with a National Championship run later this month. As a result, OSU’s star players are being recognized on a national scale seemingly everywhere you look, and that was no different with the release of CBS Sports’ All-America team.
Ohio State had a nation-high six representatives between the All-America First and Second teams. While the SEC led the way with 11 First Team selections, the Big Ten was right behind it with six First Team selections — four of which are Buckeyes. Among the First Team selections, only seven players were chosen unanimously, and two of them play for Ohio State: Chase Young and Jeff Okudah.
Both expected to be early-First Round NFL Draft picks, the standout defensive end and cornerback have played an enormous role on defense for the Buckeyes this season. Young’s dominant play has been enough to earn himself a trip to New York for the Heisman ceremony, compiling 16.5 sacks, 21 tackles for loss and seven forced fumbles on the year. Okudah has been the latest lockdown defensive back to don the Scarlet and Gray, keeping the ball out of opposing wideouts hands all season with three interceptions and seven pass breakups.
Fellow OSU First Team selections include J.K. Dobbins and Wyatt Davis on offense. Dobbins, a third Buckeye player who could have legitimately made it to New York, put together his best season to date in Columbus. The junior has pushed past Ezekiel Elliot on the Ohio State career rushing list, now trailing only Archie Griffin in all-time yards for the program. This year, Dobbins has ran for 1,829 yards on a 6.5 per-carry average with 22 total touchdowns. A big reason for his success has been some sturdy run-blocking from his offensive line, headed by Davis up the middle at the right guard spot.
Justin Fields and Jordan Fuller were the two Buckeyes on the Second Team. If not for an incredible season by LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, Fields could have been a runaway candidate for the Heisman, posting an impressive 50-1 total touchdown to interception ratio while throwing for almost 3,000 yards and rushing for another 471. Fuller, one of the team’s leaders on defense, tallied 57 tackles with two picks and four pass breakups this year from his spot as the team’s lone deep safety.
Sports Illustrated also put on its own All America team on Wednesday, with Young and Okudah making the First-Team Defense and Dobbins and Davis making the Second-Team Offense.
Speaking of awards season, I think Chase Young is beginning to run out of room in his trophy case. Adding to an already ridiculous list of accolades, on Wednesday Young was named the winner of the Ted Hendricks Award, given to the nation’s top defensive end. Somewhat surprisingly, Young is the first Ohio State player to ever win the award, and is the fourth player from the Big Ten ever to bring home the hardware.
If you are beginning to lose track, and it is becoming very easy to do so, as well as the Ted Hendricks Award, Young has already won the Nagurski Trophy, Big Ten Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year, Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year and the Chicago Tribune Silver Football Award. In addition, he was also First Team All-Big Ten selection.
While the list of recognitions is already at absurd proportions, Young may not be done just yet. He is still a finalist for the Bednarik, Maxwell and Walter Camp awards, as well as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
“The Buckeyes obviously never dropped a game, but it’s still unclear at this point if [Brendon] White will be around to contribute in some capacity for the next one as the program prepares for the College Football Playoff.”
The career path of safety Brendon White has been a long, winding road that has left many a bit confused on its current location and the direction of its future. White burst onto the scene last year after being forced into action against Nebraska, recording a team-high 13 tackles with two for a loss in what looked like the start of an impressive career at Ohio State. White would start for the Buckeyes the remainder of the year, and played exceptionally well, even winning MVP of the Rose Bowl against Washington.
2019 looked to be a year that White would be a huge contributor as a full-time starter on defense, especially with Greg Mattison’s new “bullet” position that appeared at the time to be perfectly crafted for White’s skillset. However, that would not be the case. The junior safety played almost no snaps in meaningful game scenarios, recording only 19 total tackles and one sack on the year before ultimately not even making the travel list for the Big Ten Championship Game. At this point in time, his future at Ohio State seems uncertain.
Head coach Ryan Day described White as being “unavailable for personal reasons” against the Badgers in Indy, and was unsure of his status for the Fiesta Bowl. “We’ll sit down, have a conversation, kind of go from there. But I don’t really have an update right now,” Day said.
Currently, White would seem like a candidate for the transfer portal. A clearly skilled player, the Buckeyes just couldn't find a role for him to get on the field with any consistency as they moved to a one safety scheme manned by Fuller and with Pete Werner occupying the alleged “bullet” position with his ability to both play linebacker and drop back into coverage. The frustration for White has mounted through the year as playing time became harder and harder to come by, and with Josh Proctor waiting in the wings at safety, a starting spot is certainly not a guarantee in 2020.
Hopefully Day and the coaching staff are able to find a way to keep White in Columbus and utilize his obvious talent sometime in the near future. The two sides will eventually come to a decision on the future of the junior defensive back, but fans will always be left wondering just what happened to Brendon White in 2019.