The last time a member of the Ohio State football program won a major individual award, Jim Tressel was still the head coach and many of the current Buckeyes were in elementary school.
In 2008, Malcolm Jenkins took home the Jim Thorpe Award as the nations best defensive back, but since then the Buckeyes have gone through an eight year drought in terms of major individual accolades.
This season however, a pair of Buckeye seniors are up for major honors. Redshirt senior center Pat Elflein is a finalist for two major awards, both of which are set to announce their winners Dec. 8.
Elflein, who moved from guard to center for the 2016 season is up for the Rimington Trophy, given to the nations most outstanding center, and the Outland Trophy, given to the county's best interior lineman. The last remaining member of Ohio State's 2012 recruiting class, Elflein said he never imagined being such an integral part of the Buckeyes success in recent years.
"I personally never would have thought I would be up for any type of award or even (during) my freshman or senior year of high school, never thought I would be a starter at Ohio State," Elflein said Tuesday. "I never knew what this journey had in store for me. I couldn’t have done it without my former and current teammates, especially my offensive line teammates. The older guys who are in the NFL now taught me so much and the guys in my unit right now are pushing me so hard and my coaches never let up around here."
While Elflein has made it clear he is a team oriented player, he also made it a goal for himself coming into the season to win the Rimington Trophy, an award a Buckeye has not won since LeCharles Bentley did so in 2001.
"Coming back, personally I wanted to win or be up for the Rimington and be an All-American and get a Buckeye tree," Elflein said. "Now, all of that is set out in front of me so I think it has worked out well and now we are playing for a national championship in the playoff so I don't think you could write it any better."
Elflein is one of three finalists for the Rimington, along with Tyler Orlosky of West Virginia and Ethan Pocic of LSU. For the Outland Trophy, Elflein is up against Washington State offensive guard Cody O’Connell and Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson.
Elflein isn't Ohio State's only individual up for a significant individual honor, as senior punter Cam Johnston was named a finalist for the Ray Guy Award, given each year to the nation's most outstanding punter.
A four year starter, Johnston currently ranks fifth nationally in average yards per punt at 46.3 yards and could still break the school's single season record in the same category. That record is currently held by Tom Tupa, who averaged 47.1 yards per boot in 1984, but with at least one game left, Johnston could break the record with a few solid kicks.
If Johnston were to win the award, he would be the first Buckeye to do so since B.J. Sander won Ohio State's only Ray Guy Award in 2003.