The Buckeyes paced the nation with eight players listed on one of Steele’s top three All-American teams. Alabama also had eight players selected, though one was placed on the Steel’s fourth team.
Unsurprisingly Joey Bosa led the way for the Buckeyes as the 2014 consensus first-team All-American was picked as a first-team defensive end by Steele. Bosa finished last season with 13.5 sacks, the fourth-best total nationally, and tied for fifth nationally with 21 tackles-for-loss.
Ohio State also put a player on Steele’s offensive first team as Ezekiel Elliott finds himself as the first-team running back. That preseason spot is a result of Elliott’s dominant postseason run that featured three straight 200-plus yard performances against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon. Competing in a conference well-stocked with running backs, Elliott was not even a Big Ten honorable mention last season. After finishing with 1,878 yards and 18 touchdowns last season the junior is expected to star nationally.
A big part of Elliott’s 2014 success was a result of the offensive line and two of the so-called “slobs” find themselves on Steele’s second team in guard Pat Elflein and tackle Taylor Decker. Senior Adolphus Washington occupies one of the two defensive tackle positions on Steele’s second team and is expected to see an uptick in production next season as he moves to the three-technique tackle position after finishing the 2014 campaign at nose guard.
Steele pegs linebacker Darron Lee and safety Vonn Bell as third-team All-Americans for next season. Among Buckeyes Lee was second only to Bosa in tackles for loss last season with 16.5. Bell, meanwhile, provided steady tackling in the secondary to finish with 92 stops and flashed playmaking ability with a team-high six interceptions.
Joining those two on the third-team is Jalin Marshall. The Buckeye receiver finds himself in such a lofty position not on offense, but on special teams where is ability as a punt returner was showcased late last season. Marshall averaged nearly 12 yards on each of his 24 punt returns and took one 54 yards for a score against Indiana.
The Buckeyes are not the only Big Ten team represented on Steele’s first team as Penn State defensive tackle Anthony Zettel also made the cut, the only Nittany Lion to make any of the four teams. Michigan State had five players selected to the various teams, the second-most of any conference member. Rutgers was represented by two players while Minnesota and Indiana each had one player make the cut.
Steele also released his preseason All-Big Ten selections. A conference-best 17 Buckeyes were included on the four teams whit Elliott, Elflein, Decker, Bosa, Washington, Lee, Bell and wide receiver Mike Thomas providing eight first-team selections. Marshall, tight end Nick Vannett, linebacker Joshua Perry, punter Cameron Johnston and quarterback J.T. Barrett were all second-team selections. Linebacker Raekwon McMillan was projected as a third-team selection in his first year as a full-time starter, while cornerback Eli Apple also made Steele’s third team. Guard Billy Price and safety Tyvis Powell rounded out the Ohio State selections by making the fourth team.