Samantha Hollingshead / The Lantern

Try and hate outstanding Ohio State outfielder Ronnie Dawson. You can't.

Something I realized over the long weekend: Whether you are an Ohio State baseball fan or not, Buckeyes outfielder Ronnie Dawson is a fan's dream.

Every time I watch the Ohio State Buckeyes men's baseball team take to the diamond, there's one player that sticks out. Whether it's his all-out hustle; incredible playmaking ability either in the outfield, at the plate, or on the bases; or just the fact that he is Ohio State's best position player, outfielder Ronnie Dawson has instantly become my favorite player on the scarlet and gray in 2016. He is not only a tremendous baseball player, but he is a happy-go-lucky guy as well—a guy who is hard to hate, no matter what team you find yourself rooting for. The 21-year-old even knows how to have fun on Twitter.

Dawson, who has only played three seasons in Columbus, has already set plenty of Ohio State records. Following the conclusion of his regular season as a junior, he is the first Buckeye to have at least 40 doubles, 20 home runs, and 40 stolen bases in his career. Not even Ohio State greats like Nick Swisher could claim such a feat. So far in his third-year donning the scarlet and gray, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound outfielder has a .329 batting average, .617 slugging percentage, 13 home runs, 23 doubles, four triples, 47 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases, to go along with a 98 percent fielding percentage in 62 games (all starts). To say that Dawson can literally do it all would be an understatement.

During the 2016 Big Ten tournament, the first-team All-Big Ten performer was voted the tournament's Most Outstanding Player for setting a tournament record for hits (15) and doubles (six) in just 21 at-bats, while leading the Buckeyes to the tournament title and the NCAA Tournament. Even though Dawson set records along the way, the outfielder gave all the praise to his coaches and teammates for getting his mind right prior to the tournament, further proving how unselfish he truly is, per The Columbus Dispatch's Mark Znidar.

“We are tired, but we gave it all we had and that was the plan. We’re playing good baseball right now. Here’s a shout-out to our bullpen. Those guys are amazing ... Honestly, I got hot at the right time. I just looked and listened to my coaches. They said it might not happen for me the first or second game, but that it would happen. They said just be Ronnie. I made good contact all weekend.’’

A Grove City, Ohio native, it has been a dream of Dawson's to lead the Buckeyes to a Big Ten championship and on Sunday, that dream became a reality.

“Ever since I was a little kid was thinking of being a Buckeye. We wanted to be Big Ten champions. Every team has that goal, but actions speak louder than words. We faced a lot of adversity. We faced a lot of events. We responded. We have the next man up mentality. Today was the perfect example.’’ Although he is in the midst of his junior season, Dawson is projected to be selected as high as the second round in June's MLB Draft and could likely be the first position player selected from the Big Ten on June 9. Obviously, the MLB is different than other sports and Dawson could always return to Ohio State for his senior season even after he is drafted, but with those projections, it would be a hard opportunity to pass up for the outfielder.

While I may be late to the Ronnie Dawson bandwagon, I can't wait to see what he and the Buckeyes can do in the NCAA Tournament starting Friday afternoon. And maybe, just maybe, what he can lead the Ohio State Buckeyes to during his senior season in 2017. Whether Dawson's career in Columbus comes to an end following the 2016 NCAA Tournament or not, he has made a life-long fan and one that will root for him no matter where his baseball career and future endeavors take him. Good luck to Dawson and the rest of the Buckeyes in the NCAA Tournament. Here's to hoping the scarlet and gray can pull off plenty more upsets and turn heads in the college baseball world starting this upcoming weekend.

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