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.
What: Best interior lineman in college football
On the list: Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins
Credentials: Expectations are growing for Hankins heading into his junior season, which comes on the heels of a campaign that included four sacks among his 12.5 tackles for a loss. With another offseason to add even more power to his 317-pound frame and complement his impressive agility for a big man, Hankins figures to boost his individual numbers this fall.
Head to head: Showcase opportunities against other candidates, which could be even more valuable for an award that includes nominees on both sides of the ball -- Travis Frederick (center, Wisconsin), Theo Goins (guard, Central Florida), Jordan Hill (defensive tackle, Penn State), Taylor Lewan (offensive tackle, Michigan), Spencer Long (guard, Nebraska), Chris McDonald (guard, Michigan State), Graham Pocic (center, Illinois), Kawann Short (defensive tackle, Purdue), Akeem Spence (defensive tackle, Illinois), Baker Steinkuhler (defensive tackle, Nebraska), Matt Summers-Gavin (offensive tackle, California), Aaron Tipoti (defensive tackle, California), Ricky Wagner (offensive tackle, Wisconsin).
Odds: Because of the inclusion of both offensive and defensive linemen, the field is crowded from the start. But if Hankins is able to dominate at and behind the line of scrimmage the way he is expected to this fall, the lone candidate from the Buckeyes could easily put himself in the mix.