If the Ohio State Buckeyes are going to have the type of success expected in 2017, it's going to require a team effort. But at points during the year, the Scarlet and Gray will need some individual talent to shine through.
The good news is, OSU has the players that can rise to the occasion when necessary.
In a recent article, Sports Illustrated ranked the top 100 college football players of 2017. The idea was "if one were to conduct a fantasy draft to build a college football team from scratch, these are the players we’d want most." The Buckeyes were well represented.
The first Ohio State player on the list is quarterback J.T. Barrett, who lands at spot 59. Here is what SI had to say on the signal caller:
"There’s no denying Barrett’s 2016 season ended on a dud. Over the Buckeyes’ final three games, he completed just 50.6% of his passes for 337 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. But let’s not forget all the came before it, when Barrett flirted with the Heisman conversation while completing 64.7% of his passes for 2,218 yards with 23 touchdowns and four interceptions. That still wasn’t as good as his surprising freshman campaign in 2014, but it’s much closer. Now Barrett gets to work with offensive guru Kevin Wilson, who has produced explosive offenses everywhere he’s been. Barrett showed decent chemistry with his mostly new group of receivers this spring, so don’t be surprised if he has a big rebound year."
Counting down nine spots and there's another member of the Scarlet and Gray, defensive end Tyquan Lewis. The Big Ten's Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2016 is back for a senior season and looking to make an impact yet again. SI writes:
"The hype around Nick Bosa is understandable, but the reigning Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the year plays on the opposite end of Ohio State’s line. Lewis was a ferocious pass-rusher last season, finishing the year with eight sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. That was his second straight season with double-digit tackles for loss after he racked up 14 in 2015. The Buckeyes are absolutely loaded at defensive end with Lewis, Bosa, Sam Hubbard and Jalyn Holmes (not to mention five-star freshman Chase Young, so defensive line coach Larry Johnson may have a tough time figuring out how to get all of that talent on the field. But after leading the team in sacks each of the past two years, Lewis seems like a safe bet."
If Ohio State is going to improve on what a young team was able to accomplish a year ago -- make the College Football Playoff -- it will require an enhanced performance from the offensive line. Leading that group is fifth-year senior Billy Price, SI's 37th-best player based on this list:
"The Buckeyes had ample success sliding the ultra-talented Pat Elflein from guard to center last season, when Elflein took home the Big Ten’s offensive lineman of the year award. So why not try it again this fall with Price, another extremely talented guard? The second-team All-America lineman has 41 consecutive starts to his name and gave Ohio State a huge boost with his decision to return for his senior season, allowing him to replace Elflein as center and as the clear leader of the Buckeyes’ offensive line. Ohio State ranked first in the nation last season in adjusted line yards and has a chance to match that standard with four of five starters back."
The final Buckeye on the list might be a bit of a surprise. Nick Bosa, who comes in at 35, certainly has all the talent in the world, but given he's only played one season and is dealing with a deep rotation at defensive end, it might be a lot to expect Bosa to explode in 2017. Of course, if he's anything like his brother, Joey, high expectations shouldn't impact Nick.
On Bosa, SI writes:
"Just like his older brother Joey, the reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Nick Bosa wasted no time making an impact in Columbus, finishing second on the team with 5.0 sacks as a true freshman and showcasing a motor that portends a frightening improvement curve in the coming years. As he builds command of the strength to overpower tackles alone out on the edge, he should carve out a central role in the Buckeyes’ loaded front seven by the midpoint of his sophomore year. For now, he's a game-swinging play waiting to happen."
You can view the full list of SI's top 100 players in 2017 here.
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Source : http://ohiostate.247sports.com/Article/Four-Ohio-State-Buckeyes-make-Sports-Illustrateds-top-100-colleg-53453388