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.
BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY
What: The national defensive player of the year
Credentials: The spotlight has already been shining brightly on Roby and Shazier for awards for top defenders, but this time a little bit of attention is spilling over for Bryant. Despite numbers that put him among the most prolific producers on the roster heading into the season, the senior safety has often been overlooked. In fact, he might be better known for his trash talk and a handful of personal fouls last season than for a tackle total that ranked second only to Shazier and his four forced turnovers. Bryant isn't likely to climb above either Roby or Shazier in the minds of voters for national awards, and he probably won't be any higher than third as a defensive MVP for the Buckeyes at the end of the season. But that's not a problem for Ohio State, obviously, because he makes for a pretty talented No. 3.
Head to head: Showcase opportunities against other defenders being watched by the committee at this point -- Ricardo Allen (Purdue), Deion Barnes (Penn State), Chris Borland (Wisconsin), Jonathan Brown (Illinois), Khalil Mack (Buffalo), James Morris (Iowa), Tyler Scott (Northwestern).
Odds: Shazier has the best chance to rack up the kind of statistics needed to impress voters, and based on what he did while spending half of the season somewhat slowed by injury, the junior should be able to do just that. Truthfully, he had the numbers of an award-winning linebacker a year ago, but few people nationally seemed to take much notice. That won't be the case this season as a centerpiece for a team coming off an unbeaten season and looking to compete for a national title. That, and the combination of his past success, Ohio State's record and increased offseason hype, could vault Shazier into contention for hardware.