Pat Elflein served as the backbone to a young Ohio State offensive line all season, one that paved the way for the conference's top statistical offense. On Wednesday, the Big Ten determined Elflein was the best at what he does in the entire conference.
Elflein is the 2016 Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year, the league announced on Big Ten Network. It is the second straight season a Buckeye has won the award. Left tackle Taylor Decker received the hardware last season.
A team captain and fifth-year senior, Elflein is 37-4 as a starter at Ohio State and is instrumental to his team ranking first in the Big Ten in scoring (42.7 points per game), rushing offense (258.3 yards per game) and total offense (479.5 yards per game).
“I can't give an adjective to over emphasize his value to our program, and I've done this 29 years,” head coach Urban Meyer said last Monday ahead of Elflein's final home game, a 30-27 double overtime win over Michigan. “He's as good a player, person, leader as I've ever been around.”
Ohio State's 3,100 rushing yards is the most in the Big Ten by more than 400 yards and ninth-most in the entire country. The Buckeyes also have 33 rushing touchdowns, second-most in the league and tied for seventh-most in the nation. Elflein is the apex of the unit primarily responsible for those statistics.
Since Decker ended a 13-year drought last season for an Ohio State player winning Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the year, the Buckeyes now have two straight recipients. Elflein is the first center to take home the hardware since Michigan's David Molk in 2011. LeCharles Bentley is the last Ohio State center to win it, doing so in 2001.