The turnover of the roster from 2015 to 2016 has been the sweeping storyline in the offseason for Ohio State’s football team. Despite new faces bound to hit the field come September for coach Urban Meyer, three returning starters are receiving preseason notoriety.
Redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett, junior linebacker Raekwon McMillan and redshirt junior defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis were named to offensive and defensive player of the year watch lists, respectively.
Barrett was named to the preseason Maxwell Award watch list. The Maxwell Award honors the nation’s player of the year and often is a predictor for the winner of the Heisman Trophy.
Former Alabama running back Derrick Henry went on to win the Maxwell and the Heisman Trophy last year. Eddie George was the last Buckeye to win the award in 1995, who also won the Heisman.
This is Barrett’s second nomination for the watch list in consecutive years. He was joined by former Buckeyes Ezekiel Elliott, Cardale Jones and Braxton Miller on last year’s preseason watch list.
Barrett was the backup quarterback behind current Buffalo Bill Cardale Jones to start the 2015 season. Following the victory over Penn State on Oct. 17, Barrett was named the starting quarterback. The 2014 National Freshman of the Year and Big Ten quarterback of the year threw for 992 yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions in 2015. He also ran for 682 yards on 115 attempts.
McMillan and Lewis were named to the watch list for the Bednarik Award which is given to the nation’s defensive player of the year. OSU also had two players on the 2015 Bednarik watch list with former defensive end Joey Bosa and linebacker Joshua Perry. OSU has never had a Bednarik Award winner.
As first-year starters last season, McMillan and Lewis both impressed along side the NFL talent on those units. McMillan will be expected to be the leader for the Scarlet and Gray linebackers in 2016 as the only returning starter from the year before. The Georgia native led the Buckeyes with 119 total tackles contributing four tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
Lewis quietly made his presence felt on the same line as No. 3 overall pick Joey Bosa and fourth-round selection Adolphus Washington. Lewis led the defensive line with 54 total tackles, second behind Bosa with 14 tackles for loss and led with eight sacks in 2015.
The Buckeyes begin the 2016 season on Sept. 3 at noon versus the Bowling Green Falcons.