For years, the Big Ten did not produce a preseason poll or award a player of the year award, so the media took the tasks upon itself. For 95 years, in fact, the Chicago Tribune has awarded the Silver Football to the league’s best overall player — something of a Big Ten Heisman.
And for the first time in nearly a century, a defensive player has won that award.
In a straw poll of the league’s 14 head coaches — coaches are forbidden from voting for their own players — Ohio State’s Chase Young. Young secured nine first-place votes and one second-place vote, meaning three coaches left him off their ballots entirely. Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor came in second with three first-place votes and 12 points total, followed by Buckeye teammates Justin Fields and JK Dobbins. Penn State’s KJ Hamler and Michigan’s Shea Patterson each garnered a second-place vote.
Ohio State has, unsurprisingly, dominated the award during the Urban Meyer/Ryan Day era, as Braxton Miller won the honor in 2012 and ’13, Ezekiel Elliott took it home in 2015, JT Barrett in 2016 and Dwayne Haskins last fall.
Overall, the Silver Football has been awarded to an Ohio State player 22 times, most in the conference.
With 29 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, a school-record 14 sacks and five forced fumbles in 10 games, Young will now attempt to become the first defense-only player to win the Heisman — it’s like the Silver Football, but for the entire country — later this month.