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 trophies back to campus along the way.
JIM THORPE AWARD
What: The nation's top defensive back
Credentials: The depth and talent in the secondary was already well known, but in case there was any doubt about how high the Buckeyes might sit in the national pecking order, the latest watch list helps confirm a spot at the top. The trio of Bryant, Barnett and Roby took three spots from the Thorpe committee -- and by comparison, the entire SEC had just four defensive backs selected for preseason attention. Each of the three Buckeyes have earned the attention, from Bryant's nose for the ball and hard hitting to Barnett's steady contributions in the back to Roby's uncanny ability to break up anything thrown his way. And with more skill in reserve, there's obviously a really good reason Ohio State is planning to play so much nickel and dime this fall, basing it's game plan around three nationally-recognized athletes.
Head to head: Showcase opportunities against other defensive backs currently being watched by the committee -- Ricardo Allen (Purdue), Nat Berhe (San Diego State), Ibraheim Campbell (Northwestern), Najja Johnson (Buffalo).
Odds: Roby will enter the season among the favorites, and while that's no knock on Bryant or Barnett, he's clearly the most likely candidate from the vaunted Ohio State secondary to claim an individual prize this fall. The key for Roby to make a significant push will be to turn a few more of those passes broken up into interceptions after finishing with just two picks a year ago. He might also have to make the most of his chances, because odds are teams won't be in any hurry to test him in what will assuredly be the final season of the redshirt junior's career with Ohio State.