- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The wait is almost over. The season is finally creeping up again, and the annual release of preseason watch lists for the biggest awards in college football confirms it -- and helps provide a useful distraction during the final month leading up to the start of training camp. BuckeyeNation will be tracking all the Ohio State players being tracked by the various committees with hardware to give out and will be handicapping their odds of bringing a few trophies back to campus along the way.
PAUL HORNUNG AWARD
What: The nation's most versatile player
On the list: Ohio State senior receiver Philly Brown
Credentials: Brown has led the Buckeyes in receptions each of the last two seasons, and he's a strong favorite to make it three in a row this fall. But it's not his work in the passing game that will help set him apart for this honor -- it's his ability to contribute as a rusher and a punt returner on top of his normal responsibilities. Brown scored in all three roles last season, including a pair of highlight-reel returns in the kicking game, and he looked increasingly more dangerous with the football in his hands as his first season in the spread offense progressed. Now he's even more comfortable with what the Buckeyes are expecting of him, and the football should be in his hands often.
Odds: The Buckeyes have some fresh faces who are expected to fill the hybrid role and could potentially take away a few rushing opportunities from Brown, but he'll likely still be a change-of-pace option at times on jet sweeps or some swing passes that will get him involved on the ground. Where Brown could really make a national name for himself this season, though, is if he can match or exceed his contributions in the return game while still providing a steady presence on the perimeter as a receiver. No matter how he does it, if his touchdown total goes up, Brown could be in the mix for this award.
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