If you check many preseason college football publications, you are likely to find plenty of love for Ohio State. The Buckeyes are considered among the most talented teams in college football and many prognosticators believe it will be a bounce-back year for the Scarlet and Gray.
One of those is Athlon Sports, which recently released its preseason top-25 rankings and had Ohio State at No. 2. But while those at Athlon Sports are high on what the Buckeyes might do, they see a bit more talent at their rival school Michigan, at least according to the outlet’s prediction for the 2022 All-Big Ten teams.
While Athlon Sports projects the Scarlet and Gray to have an impressive 16 players make one of the four teams, they also project Michigan to have 17 players finish the year as all-conference players. The only other Big Ten schools to reach double digits are Michigan State and Iowa with 11 each.
Athlon Sports’ first-team All-Big Ten team features five Ohio State players in quarterback C.J. Stroud, running back TreVeyon Henderson, wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba and offensive linemen Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones. All five of these players are returning starters after productive seasons a year ago, although Johnson is moving from guard to tackle this offseason.
The Buckeyes only have three first-team All-Big Ten players, per Athlon Sports. These three are defensive end Zach Harrison, cornerback Denzel Burke and safety Ronnie Hickman. Again, all three of these players return as starters from last year’s team, but the Scarlet and Gray will need more defensive players to step up if the team is to return to the level expected under new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles.
Wide receiver Emeka Egbuka makes Athlon Sports’ All-Big Ten first team as well, but he does so as a kick returner. Egbuka took over the kick return duties early last season and is expected to be in the mix to do so again in 2022.
After the high number of first-team All-Big Ten offensive players, Athlon Sports only has one Ohio State player on the second team in wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. This will be Harrison’s first year as a starter, but he did impress in the Rose Bowl with three touchdown catches.
Athlon Sports also only has one Buckeye on the second-team all-conference defensive in defensive end Jack Sawyer. The sophomore had a good debut season and could find a much bigger role this fall in Knowles’ “Jack” position.
Kicker Noah Ruggles was nearly perfect for the Scarlet and Gray in 2021 and returns — after an offseason sabbatical — for a second and final year in Columbus. He is Athlon Sports’ second-team All-Big Ten kicker.
Athlon Sports’ third-team All-Big Ten offensive unit also features one Ohio State player in center Luke Wypler. A surprise starter to begin last year, Wypler made the center position his own and is only expected to be better in 2022 with a year of experience under his belt.
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On the third-team All-Big Ten defensive team, Athlon Sports has two Buckeyes in defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau and linebacker Tommy Eichenberg. Tuimoloau saw his role grow as a freshman a year ago, while Eichenberg matured into a solid defensive player for the Scarlet and Gray in his first season as a starter.
Ohio State only has one fourth-team All-Big Ten player, per Athlon Sports, and this is defensive lineman Tyleik Williams. Williams got some playing time early last season when other linemen were injured and flashed his ability. He is expected to take a jump this fall.