Less than a week after 11 Silver Bullets, three Ohio State Buckeyes special teamers, and eight offensive players were named All-Big Ten by the conference’s coaches and media, the Buckeyes learned on Monday that they also had 12 players who were named all-conference by the Associated Press.
First-team: Quarterback J.T. Barrett, center Pat Elflein, offensive guard Bill Price, H-back Curtis Samuel, defensive end Tyquan Lewis, linebacker Raekwon McMillan, safety Malik Hooker, punter Cam Johnston.
Second-team: Running back Mike Weber, offensive tackle Jamarco Jones, all-purpose Curtis Samuel, cornerback Marshon Lattimore
J.T. Barrett had his fair share of struggles throughout the season, especially throwing the ball, whether it be his accuracy or strength. Even with those struggles, No. 16 led the Buckeyes to the College Football Playofs. He led the Buckeyes in total offense with 3,275 yards (2,428 passing, 847 rushing), while completing 214-of-346 passes (62 percent was good for third in the conference) for 24 passing touchdowns (second in Big Ten) and five interceptions. His 194 carries also led to nine touchdowns as well. Barrett’s 33 touchdowns led the conference, while his 272.9 yards of offense per game was third in the Big Ten and his 140.8 passing rating was fourth, all while he now owns the school record in touchdown passes (69) and touchdowns responsible for (100).
After deciding to return to Columbus for his fifth and final season, Pat Elflein had one heck of a regular season in his first year playing center, anchoring anchored a front-line that had one of the best offenses in the country throughout the season. Thanks to Elflein, Billy Price, and Jamarco Jones, along with the rest of the offensive line and all of the skill players, Ohio State’s offense averaged 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. Elflein is the second consecutive Buckeye to be named the offensive lineman of the year in the conference (Taylor Decker won the award in 2015).
Arguably Ohio State’s top playmaker, Curtis Samuel 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.
Having to take over for a guy like Joey Bosa is always a tough decision, but Tyquan Lewis has done his best to do so and it has paid off for both him and the defense. With his efforts, Lewis has been one of the team’s top defensive lineman this season. He racked up 27 tackles, including 7.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss, the latter two of which led the team. The defensive tackle also had five quarterback hurries, forced three fumbles, and accrued two pass deflections.
Raekwon McMillan may not have filled up the stat sheet as much as he should have at times, but that was due to the fact that defenses were focuses on him every game. 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. This is the second time the true junior has been named all-Big Ten.
He may not have been among the starters prior to this season, but Malik Hooker quickly 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.
While the Australian may have had a different punting style at times, Cam Johnston was always wanted, especially when it mattered most. His 49 punts during the regular season when an average of 46.2 yards per punt, which was one full yard better than his previous career high in average (45.1 yards per punt during his sophomore season.
When trying to replace Ezekiel Elliott, everybody knew that the Buckeyes would have a hard time. Freshman Mike Weber exceeded people’s expectations and then some. He totaled 177 carries for 1,072 yards and nine touchdowns along with 20 receptions for 87 yards. Weber also became the third freshman in school history to run for over 1,000 yards, joining Maurice Clarett (2002) and Robert Smith (1990). His 89.3 rushing yards per game led the conference. For his efforts, he was also named the Big Ten Newcomer of the Year.
In his first season as a full-time starter, Marshon Lattimore has been a lockdown cornerback. During the regular season, he had 38 tackles, four interceptions (second on team), and nine pass breakups.
For what it’s worth, Michigan finished with five nominations, which was the second-most in the conference.