MVP. Most Valuable Player. It is an award earned by some. It is a title bestowed on many. It is a decision that is ultimately disputed by all.
Is the MVP of a team the best player? Is it an award that should be given to someone who may lack the stats of others but truly has carried a team? What about someone who has personally been responsible for wins because they have something extra that isn’t measured in the box score, the things you have to see to know instead of just reading the final boxscore?
In college football, there are various forms of the MVP award for players to be awarded. In the Big Ten, there is the Silver Football, from the Chicago Tribune. In Columbus, there is the Archie Griffin Award (obviously named for the Ohio State great), presented each year to the Most Valuable Player of College Football by the Touchdown Club of Columbus, Ohio.
Then you have the obvious trophies. The Heisman, which is awarded annually to the most outstanding player in college football, is the biggest named one. There is also the Walter Camp, which is given to the player of the year. Somehow, these awards are not always given to the same player. You have others too, for specific positions, like the Davey O’Brien Award for quarterbacks, the Doak Walker for running backs, etc. Quite frankly, there are too darn many to name.
But this time of year, the month of November, is when the men we have lived and died with all season start to truly separate themselves for these awards. This is when the Heisman campaigns start rounding out to get the top 4 or 5 players ready for a trip to New York. And while there is a national sickness of campaigns right now, we college football fans are just about to get smacked in the mouth with the end of them.
The problem in Columbus is that we don’t have a consensus MVP.
Think about it for a minute. Tell me who the best player for Ohio State is. Tell me who has been the most valuable to this team? Which guy, if missing, would be the one who devastated the Buckeyes’ season?
I’m not saying we don’t have A MVP candidate. Ohio State have three and most people don’t agree on two of them.
On defense, we have all been awestruck by the play of our corners and safeties. The unit that has set an Ohio State School record for the most interception returns for touchdowns has, deservedly, brought the spotlight down onto this unit. The defensive linemen, all still very young and learning not just their positions, but how to play college football, have been great. Watching these youngsters have the impact on both the rushing and passing games this season has been great.
But the defensive MVP has easily been the heart of the unit, the man calling the shots, and one of out Lott award winner semi-finalists.
Raekwon McMillan may not have the highest number of tackles in the country. He may not have 15 sacks, or 10 interceptions, either. What he does have is over 50 tackles this season, a couple forced fumbles, and 4 passes defended. For a middle linebacker, that is not a bad season with 2 games left to play.
Kwon takes on another major role though as the quarterback of the front seven and the entire defense. His heart and leadership have saved games for the Silver Bullets.
On offense, everyone would instinctively point to J.T. Barrett. I think this season has a whole different feel to it, and possibly more losses, without Barrett getting the snaps from center. Sure, his numbers don’t match up with the likes of Lamar Jackson, but with 2 games to play, he has over 2,200 yards passing with 13 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions. Add-on 600 plus yards rushing and eight scores, and you have a fantastic season for a quarterback. I think Barrett may be the single most important piece of the Ohio State offense — he’s the reason the Buckeyes may very well end the regular season with just one loss.
Yet, I don’t think he is the true team MVP.
Curtis Samuel has easily been, in my mind, the MVP for the 2016 Ohio State Buckeyes. When he is involved with the game plan, the men of the Scarlet and Gray are unstoppable. When he is off, and left out of the game plan, or used incorrectly?
Penn State happens.
We all saw the resurgence of the offense against Nebraska. We all saw Samuel getting the touches needed to ignite the unit. We all saw it carry over to the Maryland game. We all are planning on seeing it continue against Michigan State and Michigan.
Brandon did a great piece a few weeks ago about the running backs getting their touches and how it is vital to OSU’s success. He followed that up with an excellent break down of the passing game. In 10 games this season, Samuel is averaging 8.0 yards rushing per attempt on 80 carries. If he ONLY gets his average, he would end the season with 797 yards, while splitting time with Mike Webber, JT Barrett, and DeMario McCall in the backfield. It wouldn’t be unheard of to see him get the 363 yards needed to become a 1000-yard rusher for the Buckeyes.
Samuel enters the MSU game with 57 receptions for 750 yards. That, my friends, is a 13.2 clip — just getting his average puts him at almost exactly 900 yards receiving. Again, this is for a running back — and thinking he can’t get an extra 100 yards receiving over the next two games is a pretty absurd thought also.
Samuel has, albeit an outside shot, at being a 1000/1000-yard player this year. He has proven, via the eye test, that he has the special “it” factor when he in on the field.
Even beat reporters for the Buckeyes have taken notice that he is “…most dangerous player since Ted Ginn Jr”, as Cleveland.com’s Doug Lesmerises wrote earlier this week.
I’m not one to give out awards early in the season. I laugh manically at the people who are far too quick to award a “September Heisman” (I’m looking at you, Peppers’ supporters). But I am one to say that we need to do a few things as Buckeye fans:
A) Enjoy Samuel while we can. He may very well be the next to take an early exit to the NFL.
B) Be upset that you don’t hear Samuel’s name in the Heisman discussions.
We’ve got a good one, that #4.
Yes, we can make a case for either of these three young men to be the MVP of the team this year. The truth though, as Ohio State fans, we don’t fully understand just how special this student athlete is.
Curtis Samuel is my MVP. Who gets your vote?