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 and will be handicapping their odds of bringing a few trophies back to campus along the way.
CHUCK BEDNARIK AWARD
What: The nation's top defensive player
Credentials: Even while playing about half the season at less than full strength, Shazier still showed he was one of the best sideline-to-sideline defenders in the country by stuffing the stats sheet in pretty much every way imaginable. He didn't receive all that much national acclaim for a player with 115 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss, five sacks, three forced fumbles, an interception and a touchdown while suiting up for an undefeated team, but it's safe to assume his name is much better known now than it was at this time a year ago. The same is true for Roby, who also dealt with some nagging health issues while developing into one of the most productive cornerbacks in the country, making it seem routine to get a hand on the football with 19 passes defended during his banner sophomore campaign. To complete the trio and follow the script, Barnett also was slowed by an ankle issue that forced him out of the lineup for three games. The safety can be a real asset when he's at 100 percent, though his higher-profile teammates will likely have more chances to accumulate the kind of numbers needed to win a trophy.
Head to head: Showcase opportunities against other players currently being watched by the committee -- Deion Barnes (Penn State), Chris Borland (Wisconsin) Jonathan Brown (Illinois), Jake Fely (San Diego State), Khalil Mack (Buffalo) and James Morris (Iowa).
Odds: South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney will enter the season as a strong favorite for the award, and he has an edge over Shazier and Roby in both name recognition and entries on the highlight reel. But both of those Buckeyes could conceivably make a push for the award if they duplicate the productive seasons they turned in a year ago. Shazier could potentially take his tackling total to a higher level, and if he's involved in a few more turnovers, that would be a bonus for Ohio State as well. And if Roby can turn a couple more of those passes broken up into interceptions, the amount of attention for the athletic defensive back might increase dramatically as well.