The season is finally getting closer. The release of preseason watch lists for the major college football awards confirms it, and starting with the first two on Monday and including all of them that follow, BuckeyeNation will break them down to see which Ohio State representatives have a shot at bringing home some hardware.
What: Given to the nation's top defensive player
Credentials: Simon is coming of a first-team All-Big Ten season as a junior. He led the Buckeyes with seven sacks and 16 tackles for a loss in 2011. Hankins wasn't far behind with 11 tackles for a loss among the 67 he made in all, and he's expected to be a handful up front this fall.
Head to head: The Buckeyes will square off with these other candidates this season -- Jonathan Brown and Michael Buchanan (Illinois), Johnny Adams, Denicos Allen, Max Bullough and William Gholston (Michigan State), Gerald Hodges (Penn State), Ricardo Allen and Kawann Short (Purdue), Chris Borland (Wisconsin)
Odds: If Simon is able to bump up his sack total slightly while continuing to serve as an inspirational leader for the Buckeyes, he could emerge as one of the favorites for this award.