Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, kicker Noah Ruggles are finalists for national awards

Joey Kaufman
The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) throws a touchdown pass to wide receiver Garrett Wilson during the first quarter of the NCAA football game against the Michigan State Spartans at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021.

Two of Ohio State’s football players are up for national awards that will be announced on Dec. 9.

C.J. Stroud on Tuesday was named a finalist for the Davey O’Brien Award, given to the nation’s top quarterback, and Noah Ruggles was also selected as a finalist for the Lou Groza Award, which recognizes the top kicker.

Stroud has some of the best passing numbers in the FBS, ranking No. 8 in completion percentage (71.1%) and yards (3,468), No. 4 in touchdowns (36) and No. 2 in efficiency (186.74).

The redshirt freshman is also a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, which is to announce finalists next month.

The other finalists for the Davey O'Brien Award are Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett and Alabama's Bryce Young.

Ruggles is vying for the Lou Groza Award with Oklahoma’s Gabe Brkic and Michigan’s Jake Moody.

Until missing a 38-yard field goal try in last week’s 56-7 win over Michigan State, Ruggles had made all 16 of his attempts and had a streak of 18 consecutive makes that had been the longest in the nation.

It has been at least 15 years since a Buckeye won either award. Troy Smith was the last recipient of the Davey O'Brien Award in 2006, and Mike Nugent won the Lou Groza Award in 2004.

No one from Ohio State’s prolific receiving trio of Chris Olave, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Garrett Wilson, though, was selected as one of the three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award as the most outstanding receiver.

Olave, who was a semifinalist, said he thought all three of them deserved to be in consideration, but he didn’t sound concerned with the snub.

“At the end of the day, it doesn't matter to us,” he said. “We just want team awards.”

Olave said he is proud of former teammate Jameson Williams, who transferred to Alabama in May and was one of the three finalists with Pittsburgh's Jordan Addison and Purdue's David Bell.

“I can’t do anything but root for him,” Olave said.

Williams has caught 59 passes for 1,218 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.

Olave, Smith-Njigba and Wilson could become only the sixth 1,000-yard receiving trio in the FBS. Smith-Njigba has 1,132 receiving yards, while Wilson has 939 and Olave has 848.

Ohio State injury updates

The Buckeyes are hopeful to have freshman wide receiver Emeka Egbuka available at Michigan after he was sidelined last week with an undisclosed injury.

Egbuka has at times provided a big lift on special teams for Ohio State. In a 66-17 win over Maryland last month, he returned four kickoffs for 166 yards, including a long of 67 yards.

It was the second-most kickoff return yardage in school history.

Day updated the status of Egbuka and other banged-up players during his weekly press conference.

Coach Ryan Day was less definitive about linebacker Cody Simon, who was sidelined in the first quarter against Michigan State and did not return.

Day said only that Simon’s setback “does not look like a long-term deal,” but didn’t offer much more of a forecast.

The Buckeyes, already thin on scholarship linebackers, were also without Palaie Gaoteote against the Spartans.

Walking on Senior Day

Starting left tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere said he participated in Senior Day ahead of Saturday’s game against Michigan State since he is set to graduate at the end of this semester.

“I just wanted to walk,” he said, “because I got my degree and I felt like that was a good thing for me and my mom to have that moment and share that with each other because that was something I wanted to make sure I got done. I didn’t want to wait on that.”

Petit-Frere, who is finishing with a marketing degree, said it was a special moment for them as he’ll be the first male in his family to graduate from college.

But he said hasn’t decided whether to return for another season or enter next spring’s NFL draft.

He was one of three scholarship players who were juniors in eligibility to participate in the pregame Senior Day ceremony. 

Joey Kaufman covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at jkaufman@dispatch.com or on Twitter @joeyrkaufman.

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