- 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 and will be handicapping their odds of bringing a few trophies back to campus along the way.
What: The nation's best center
On the list: Ohio State senior Corey Linsley
Credentials: Just barely more than a year ago Linsley was only starting his transition to a new position and leaving a little room for uncertainty for the Buckeyes at one of the most important, but often overlooked, spots on the field. A steady season later, the senior is one of the most critical cogs in the offense, a respected voice in the locker room, a relentless worker and a reliable snapper who helps keep the program moving forward in virtually every way possible. Linsley wasn't perfect a year ago, though the bad snaps could be counted on one hand and perhaps a slight decline in his play at the end of the perfect season could be chalked up to a painful foot issue that ultimately required surgery and kept him out of action during spring ball. Even without those workouts, the Buckeyes have complete faith in Linsley to continue triggering the attack -- and build on a productive first season at center before wrapping up his career with the Buckeyes.
Head to head: There will be one showcase opportunity against another center currently being watched by the committee, Brandon Vitabile of Northwestern.
Odds: Given the volume of credit Urban Meyer and the Ohio State coaching staff doles out to the offensive line in general and often to Linsley in particular, Linsley is likely to be a recognizable name on the ballot all season long. And if the Buckeyes shift the attack into an even higher gear and remain in contention for a shot in the national championship game, Linsley's chances of becoming a finalist or even a possible winner will only go up.
5dDan Murphy and Austin Ward