Ohio State has dominated All-Big Ten defensive selections in recent years, but the Buckeyes’ struggles on that side of the ball were reflected in a smaller list of honorees for 2018.
League coaches voted defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones to the first team in selections announced Tuesday. He was the only Buckeyes player to earn first-team honors from either the coaches or media. Jones was a second-team pick by the media.
The All-Big Ten offensive selections will be announced Wednesday.
Defensive end Chase Young was a second-team pick by coaches and a third-team pick by the media. Safety Jordan Fuller made the second team in the media voting. Special-teams honors were also announced, and punter Drue Chrisman was a second-team selection by both coaches and media.
Ohio State players earned Defensive Player of the Year honors the past four seasons — twice by Joey Bosa, followed by Tyquan Lewis and Nick Bosa.
Nick Bosa would have been a leading contender to repeat, but his Ohio State career ended with an injury against TCU in the third game of the season. Even so, he earned honorable mention.
Jones is a fourth-year junior from Cleveland who decided not to enter the NFL draft after last season.
“Selfishly, what I hoped for was to improve and create more production, but my mindset is always team first,” Jones said Monday on a teleconference to preview Ohio State’s game against Northwestern in the Big Ten championship. “I wanted to come back and try to get a chance to get to the playoffs to win a national championship. That was the main focus when I came back in January.”
Jones and Young did their best to fill the void after Bosa’s injury. Jones has 12 tackles for loss. Young has 11½.
Jones has 7½ sacks and has scored two touchdowns. Jones intercepted a pass for a touchdown against TCU, a key play in that game. He recovered a fumble in the end zone against Michigan State, perhaps the most crucial play in that victory.
Though Jones has a year of eligibility remaining, it is considered a near-certainty that he will enter the NFL draft. He is considered a likely first-round pick.
Young, a true sophomore, might have the most pure talent of anyone on Ohio State’s defense. He has 6½ sacks and a team-leading nine quarterback hurries. On Saturday against Michigan, he hit the arm of quarterback Shea Patterson on a pass intercepted by Fuller.
Fuller, a junior, leads the team in solo tackles with 46 and is second in overall tackles to linebacker Malik Harrison with 63.
In addition to Bosa, defensive linemen Jonathan Cooper and Robert Landers, linebackers Tuf Borland, Harrison and Pete Werner and cornerbacks Damon Arnette, Jeffrey Okudah and Kendall Sheffield were named honorable mention.
NFL draft watch
Speculation has begun about whether quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. might enter the NFL draft after this season.
Asked about it Tuesday, Haskins didn’t say much to tip his hand.
“I know there’s conversation about it, but my biggest focus is on trying to win the game on Saturday,” he said. “When it’s time to think about that, I’ll talk to my family about it.
“But it’s my first year playing here. It’s my dream to play here. It’s a whirlwind. I’m just really blessed to be in the conversation to be an NFL draft pick. It’s been a dream of mine, but it was my dream to play here first.”