Most Exciting Player: Ezekiel Elliott
Who else? This season we saw Elliott earn a spot in the same conversation as Archie Griffin and Eddie George. He leaves Columbus No. 2 in school history in rushing yards, touchdowns, and 100 yard games, all just behind Griffin.
Zeke didn’t come away with a Heisman trophy, perhaps a direct result of the underwhelming performance by the offense as a whole and the loss to Michigan State, where he was left out of the offense inexplicably.
Every time Elliott touched the ball, you could move to the edge of your seat just in anticipation of what he would do. I wrote about this in my wrap up of the Fiesta Bowl, but we are fortunate as fans to have seen Elliott play for Ohio State. I’m just old enough to remember Eddie George’s Heisman season, but also old enough to remember all of the backs in between. Elliott is every bit the legend in Columbus as Eddie George.
Biggest Impact on 2016: Early Draft Departures
With late news on Tuesday of Vonn Bell‘s departure, 16 total starters will need to be replaced and nine are early entries. We will cover later this week about which early entries will be missed the most, but it’s always difficult to replace so much talent at one time. Bell joins Joey Bosa, Michael Thomas, Ezekiel Elliott, Eli Apple, Tyvis Powell, Darron Lee, Jalin Marshall, and Cardale Jones as those leaving years of eligibility on the table at Ohio State. That’s 3/4 of the starting defensive backfield. That’s 1/2 of the starting receivers. Losing the strong senior class hurts enough, but losing some that could have stayed, like Powell, Apple, Marshall, and Lee, pushes other players up the depth chart that may not have been asked for as much in 2016. There are some young guys on campus that will need to have a great offseason.
Next: Best Single-Game Performance