- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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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 that were released 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.
Bronko Nagurski Trophy
What: Nation's best defensive player
Credentials: Preseason nominations are pouring in for the tandem up front for the Buckeyes, which combined for 28.5 tackles for a loss last season. Simon led the team with seven sacks as a junior on the way to first-team All-Big Ten honors and has drawn high praise from new coach Urban Meyer for his leadership. Hankins is an emerging force on the inside with his mixture of strength and mobility in an oversized frame.
Head to head: Showcase opportunities against other preseason candidates -- Johnny Adams (cornerback, Michigan State), Ricardo Allen (cornerback, Purdue), Chris Borland (linebacker, Wisconsin), Jonathan Brown (linebacker, Illinois), Michael Buchanan (defensive end, Illinois), Max Bullough (linebacker, Michigan State), William Gholston (defensive end, Michigan State), Gerald Hodges (linebacker, Penn State), Jordan Kovacs (safety, Michigan), Kawann Short (defensive tackle, Purdue), Mike Taylor (linebacker, Wisconsin).
Odds: Having a teammate up for the same individual award isn't necessarily the best way to win one, but the ability to play next to and feed off of each other is part of the formula for success for Simon and Hankins. Maybe at some point down the line they would split the vote against each other, but both players figure to be in the mix for honors like this at the end of the year.
23hBrian Bennett and Austin Ward