College football has no shortage of awards, and some outlets can’t even wait until the end of the year to bestow them.
Yes, 'tis the time for midseason All-America lists. Considering Ohio State’s dominance this season, it’s no surprise that the Buckeyes are well-represented on teams selected by Pro Football Focus and The Associated Press.
Defensive end Chase Young is an obvious selection, but right guard Wyatt Davis, cornerback Jeff Okudah, safety Jordan Fuller and running back J.K. Dobbins also were recognized.
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Davis might be the biggest surprise because he’s a first-year starter. Pro Football Focus, citing Davis allowing only seven hurries in 189 reps in pass protection, named him to its first team. Okudah and Young also made the PFF first team, with Young being judged the “country’s best player at any position.”
Dobbins made the PFF second team.
Young and Okudah made The Associated Press midseason first team. Davis, Dobbins and Fuller made the second team.
Davis said he was unaware of the midseason All-America lists and didn’t put too much stock in it.
“At the end of the season if I’m still on all that stuff, I’ll probably acknowledge it,” he said. “We still have work to do. I feel I still definitely have a lot more to prove.”
Okudah had a similar reaction.
“It means a lot to be recognized, but we have a lot more ball to be played,” he said. “They don’t ever remember the midseason or preseason All-Americans. They remember the ones that have trees planted in the grove.”
Trees are planted in Buckeye Grove just outside Ohio Stadium for players named first-team All-Americans.
A year ago, Jordan Fuller was the last line of defense on a unit that relied on the safety way too often to prevent big plays.
It’s been a different story this year with a vastly improved defense. In fact, Fuller even jokingly lamented that he’s not so needed this year. Asked specifically about versatile defensive back Shaun Wade’s play, Fuller's answer encompassed the entire unit.
“I'd say Shaun, as well as just the whole defense, they take a lot of pressure off me,” he said. “I can feel a little bored at times.”
Told of Fuller’s comment, Okudah replied, “Being bored isn’t a bad thing sometimes. At the same time, he also has two interceptions. So I feel he’s gotten a lot of balls thrown his way back there.”
Quarterback Justin Fields went home to Georgia last weekend with the Buckeyes being off. One of the games he watched was his former team, the Georgia Bulldogs, lose to underdog South Carolina.
“I know all those guys work their butts off all week,” Fields said, “so I definitely feel for those guys, especially my boy Rodrigo.”
Georgia’s kicker, Rodrigo Blankenship, missed a field goal in overtime to seal the defeat.
“He’s probably one of the hardest workers on the team,” Fields said. “I definitely feel for those guys and hope those guys can bounce back.”