Ohio State's Justin Fields earns second straight Big Ten offensive player of the year award
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields on Tuesday was named the Big Ten’s offensive player of the year for the second consecutive season.
Leading the Buckeyes to an unbeaten regular season and finishing with some of the best passing statistics in the conference despite having three games canceled over the past month, Fields was voted the recipient of the league's Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year.
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The league’s offensive honorees were announced Tuesday afternoon.
Fields, who also was named quarterback of the year in the Big Ten, has completed 78.1% of his passes for 1,407 yards, 15 touchdowns and three interceptions in five games. Also a skilled runner, Fields rushed for 239 yards and five touchdowns this season.
Only three others have been twice selected as the conference's offensive player of the year since the honor was introduced in 1990 – former Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller and Purdue quarterback Drew Brees.
Barkley and Miller received the honor in consecutive seasons in the previous decade, while Brees won in 1998 and 2000.
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In other 2020 honors unveiled on Tuesday, Buckeyes right guard Wyatt Davis was named the offensive lineman of the year, marking the fourth time since 2015 that an offensive lineman from Ohio State received the award.
Left tackle Taylor Decker was recognized in 2015, followed by centers Pat Elflein in 2016 and Billy Price in 2017.
Indiana’s Ty Fryfogle edged Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, the Buckeyes’ top two pass catchers, as the receiver of the year.
Nine Ohio State players on offense were selected to all-conference teams as selected by the coaches and media members.
Fields, Davis and tackle Thayer Munford were on both the coaches and media first teams, while center Josh Myers, Olave and Wilson were only on the coaches’ first team.
Right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere and running back Master Teague III were on the second team for the coaches and media. Left guard Harry Miller was on the third team for the coaches.
Running back Trey Sermon and tight ends Luke Farrell and Jeremy Ruckert were honorable mentions.
Fitzgerald votes for Day
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said this week that he voted for Ryan Day as the Big Ten’s coach of the year.
Fitzgerald, who will face Day in the conference championship game on Saturday, said his counterpart and his staff had “done just an absolutely terrific job” in leading the Buckeyes to an unbeaten regular season.
But he also emphasized Day’s efforts over the offseason in pushing for the Big Ten to play games this fall.
“We were all as coaches trying to assist the Big Ten in every way that we could, and Ryan was relentless,” Fitzgerald said. “He was in constant communication. We put together just a bunch of thoughts and ideas and he was just relentless in challenging every aspect of what we were doing to try to get somehow, someway, to play Big Ten football in a healthy and safe manner.”
Fitzgerald said he wanted to credit Day for his effort. The conference originally canceled its fall season in August before reversing course a month later and restarting in late October.
“That’s not to shortchange what all the other coaches did,” Fitzgerald added, “but I think he knew the value of the Ohio State head football coach being relentless.”
Day was named the Big Ten’s coach of the year by the media last fall in his debut season replacing Urban Meyer, while Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck received recognition from the coaches.
He was the first Buckeyes coach to be recognized by either the media or coaches since Earle Bruce in 1979.
This season’s coach of the year awards will be announced Thursday.
Buckeyes receivers coach Brian Hartline was named one of 15 semifinalists for the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach. ... On Monday, Ohio State was named a semifinalist for the Joe Moore Award, which recognizes the best offensive line in the country.