Monday, November 29, 2010

TBT AWARDS: TERRELLE PRYOR, BRIAN ROLLE ARE TOP PLAYERS

Terrelle Pryor (The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)
Now that Ohio State's regular season has come to a close, it's time to pass out some awards to those Buckeye players who are deserving of higher recognition.

We'll call it the "The Buckeye Times Big Ten" ... and like the Big Ten Conference, there will actually be 11 awards handed out. I know, I know, there will be 12 awards next season.

So without further ado, the award winners for 2010 are ...

OFFENSIVE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER ... junior quarterback, Terrelle Pryor.
— Pryor has become a very efficient passer in his third season for the Buckeyes, completing nearly 66 percent of his passes in 2010 for a quarterback rating of 158.0 — 13th best in the nation. Pryor has also thrown 25 touchdown passes this season — tied for best in the Big Ten — and has recorded eight games with 220 yards passing or more, with at least two touchdown tosses in nine contests.

Pryor is becoming a more complete quarterback every day.

However, Pryor's growth as a passer isn't the only reason he is being named the Buckeyes' top offensive player. No, his leadership skills are just as impressive.

No matter if he's passing all over the field or running the ball down the opponent's throat — he rushed for 639 yards and four scores this season, by the way — there is no debate who the leader of the Buckeyes offense is. There is not one player in the country whose team depends on them more than Ohio State does Pryor. That's a lot of weight to carry for just one person.

With a 30-4 career record as a starter — and 11-1 this season — Mr. Pryor's shoulders certainly seem broad enough to handle the pressure.

Other nominees: tailback Dan "Boom" Herron; wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher.

Brian Rolle
(TBT/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)
DEFENSIVE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER ... senior middle linebacker, Brian Rolle.
— No player on Ohio State's defense was better than Rolle in 2010. The 5-foot-10, 220-pound native of south Florida led the Buckeyes in both tackles (70) and tackles for loss (10), while also recording 2.5 sacks, two interceptions (one for a touchdown vs. Marshall), four pass break-ups, six deflections, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Simply said, "B. Rolle" was all over the field this season.

But just like Pryor is for the offense, Rolle is the clear leader of the Buckeyes defense, not only with his steady performances, but verbally as well.

He also stepped up his game when it mattered most, recording 18 total tackles in the Buckeyes final two games — at Iowa and against Michigan — including five for losses.

"A lot of people don't talk about Brian Rolle, he's a great football player," Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez said. "He's not a good one, but a great one. That's why they're an outstanding football team. That's why they are always competing for a national championship."

Other nominees: defensive end Cameron Heyward.

Devin Barclay
(TBT/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)
SPECIAL TEAMS MOST VALUABLE PLAYER ... senior place kicker, Devin Barclay.
— Barclay has become Mike Nugent-like this season, making 19-of-22 field goal attempts — including a school-record tying five against Miami (FL).

He was money from 40-plus this season, not bad for a man who has played the game of football for a grand total of 17 games in his entire life. He was a professional soccer player before walking on at Ohio State in 2008.

Other nominees: linebacker Dorian Bell; linebacker Storm Klein.

BIG UGLY (FOR BEST OFFENSIVE LINEMAN) ... junior left tackle, Mike Adams.
— Coming into Ohio State in 2008, Adams was considered one of the best prep offensive tackles in the nation. However, during his first two seasons in Columbus, Adams wasn't living up to his lofty billing and looked as if he was going to be no more than a underachieving backup.

Adams ended up working his way to the starting left tackle spot in preseason camp and never looked back, becoming in 2010 what many thought he was going to be coming out of Dublin Coffman (OH) High School — a bookend star.

He even held perhaps the nation's best defensive end, Iowa's Adrian Clayborn, in check during the Buckeyes big road win against the Hawkeyes two weeks ago.

"(Offensive coordinator) Jim Bollman thinks he may have done as good or better a job than anyone did against Clayborn," Tressel said of Adams. "And Mike has gotten better as time has gone on. He's a good football player."

Other nominees: guard Justin Boren; center Mike Brewster.

BIGGEST PLAY OF THE YEAR ... Terrelle Pryor's 14-yard run on fourth-and-10 at Iowa.
— Trailing 17-13 late in the fourth quarter, and facing a fourth-and-10 at midfield, Pryor scrambled out of the intense Iowa pressure and zigzagged for 14 yards, picking up a season-saving first down for the Buckeyes.

Moments later, Dan "Boom" Herron would punch in a one-yard score giving the Buckeyes a 20-17 win over the Hawkeyes, keeping OSU's Big Ten title and BCS bowl game hopes alive.

Other nominees: Cameron Heyward's 80-yard interception return against Miami (FL); Boom Herron's school record-tying 89-yard run against Michigan; Jordan Hall's 85-yard kickoff return against Michigan.

Tyler Moeller
(TBT/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)
MOST INSPIRATIONAL PLAYER ... senior safety, Tyler Moeller.
— After missing all of the 2009 season with a major head injury — that he suffered after being attacked at a Florida restaurant while on vacation with family — many questioned if Moeller would ever be able to play football again.

Well, he answered that question in a huge way, recording 20 tackles (4.5 for loss), an interception, a sack and two forced fumbles in just five games. He would suffer another season-ending injury (pectoral muscle) against Illinois in Week 5, but nonetheless, just being able to play again was inspirational. Being able to star the way he did was flat out incredible.

Moeller was granted a medical red-shirt and will return next season for the Buckeyes.


MOST IMPROVED PLAYER ... junior tailback, Dan "Boom" Herron.

— Herron went from being a dependable backup during his first two seasons to becoming a workhorse runner in 2010.

Herron rushed for more yards this season (1,068) than his first two years combined. He also scored 15 touchdowns for the Buckeyes in 2010, including at least one score in each of the past 11 games.

Other nominees: offensive tackle Mike Adams; quarterback Terrelle Pryor; defensive end Nathan Williams.

UNSUNG HERO ... sophomore fullback, Zach Boren.
— Whenever a team has a great running game, most point to the offensive line, and of course, the runner himself. Very rarely does the fullback's name ever get equal billing.

Well, Boren is perhaps the best blocking fullback in the country, consistently paving the way for the Buckeyes running game, which ranks 13th in the nation with 2,636 yards and 25 touchdowns this season.

"I'm awfully happy that he's our fullback," Tressel said of Boren. "I think the thing that you see from our tailbacks is how much appreciation they have for him, because they consider him one of the linemen. I mean, that's just the way they feel about him."

Other nominees: defensive end Nathan Williams; tight end Jake Stoneburner.

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR ... defensive tackle, Johnathan Hankins.
— "Big Hank" has been a monster on the defensive front rotating with John Simon and Dexter Larimore.

The 6-foot-3, 335-pounder from Michigan has played in all 12 games as a true freshman, recording 16 tackles (1.5 for loss) and a sack.

Other nominees: wide receiver Corey "Philly" Brown; defensive back Christian Bryant.

Pryor (TBT/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)
BEST HAIR CUT ... Terrelle Pryor's high-top fade, with a part.
— It wasn't quite Kid n' Play, but Pryor's remake of the high-top fade was classic. Of course, he cut it following the loss at Wisconsin.

As a fan of rap music in the late 1980's and early 1990's, I absolutely loved the vintage do!

BEST QUOTE OF THE YEAR ... Devin Barclay on being a hated man in Iowa.
— "As far as I know, I might be one of the most hated people there. That's fine with me. 

"It's Iowa, so, you know ... " 

Classic!