With the regulars season coming to an end, outlets have began unveiling their all conference and All-American lists, including Associated Press’ and Big Ten coaches and media voting on their offensive and defensive lists. On Wednesday, Sporting News revealed their best players in the country. On the list were three Ohio State Buckeyes who were named first-team nominees and two who made second-team.
First-team: center Pat Elflein, athlete and H-back Curtis Samuel, safety Malik Hooker
Second-team: guard Billy Price, linebacker Raekwon McMillan
After (somewhat) surprisingly returning to Columbus for his fifth and final season rather than declare for the NFL Draft, Pat Elflein anchored the Bucks’ strong front-line. He, along with the rest of the offensive line helped the offense average 42.7 points per game (ninth in the country), 258.3 rushing yards per game (ninth), and 479.5 yards per game (24th). They led the conference in scoring, offense, and rushing yards. Billy Price was also a big reason why the offensive line did what they did all season.
In a suprising move, Curtis Samuel was named an All-American under the “athlete” category. Did he deserve it because he’s one of the best playmakers? Absolutely. Due to the fact that he didn’t receive the amount of touches that he should have for the majority of the games this year, he didn’t make as big of an impact. Either way, was able to nab AP’s top spot for running backs. Compiling 65 receptions (second in Big Ten) for 822 yards and seven touchdowns and 91 carries for 704 yards and eight touchdowns, he was the only player in D-I football to have at least 700 receiving and rushing yards. No. 4 led the team with 1,546 all-purpose yards.
Ever since the opening week of the season, Malik Hooker has made quite a name for himself. Whether it’s causing turnovers, getting into the opponent’s backfield, or playing pass coverage, Hooker ran circles around the rest of the conference. The red-shirt sophomore had 67 tackles, five tackles for loss, and 0.5 sack. Most importantly, he has been a key member of Ohio State’s secondary and is one of the main reasons why the Buckeyes have done so well defending the pass. The safety had six interceptions (fourth nationally), three of which were of the pick-six variety (a school record). He’s widely expected to be a first-round pick if he chooses to leave school this spring.
One of the best linebackers in the country, Raekwon McMillan did plenty that wasn’t always on the stat sheet, including being the quarterback of the defense, but the junior had one heck of a season, again. The quarterback of the defense, the linebacker led te team with 87 tackles and also totaled one sack, five tackles for loss, forced two fumbles, and broke up four passes.
The three who were named first-team All-Americans will be honored with their own tree in Buckeye Grove, near Ohio Stadium. For those of you who don’t know, having a tree in the grove is very prestigious.