The Center of College Football
This week's This and That: Buckeyes' history of great "middle men", a working vacation for a Wolverine killer, positively great recruiting news, a preview of things to come on Ohio's North Coast?, Buckeye Bullet gets some company.
Some schools love to claim to be "Quarterback U" or "Linebacker U" (that particular school needs to stop this claim since the numbers in recent years don't back them up, but, then again, we all know supporters of that football program are good at denying obvious facts). So, what name would you give the Ohio State football program? The answer might surprise you. The Buckeyes have produced great running backs, offensive tackles, linebackers and, most recently, defensive backs. However, if you asked me to assign a name it would be "Center U". Surprised? I was when I first began to look into it. In the last fifty-two seasons, the Buckeyes have produced nine first-team All-Americans at the position:
1966 Ray Pryor
1971 Tom DeLeone
1974 Steve Myers
1988 Jeff Uhlenake
2001 LeCharles Bentley
2005 Nick Mangold
2010 Mike Brewster
2016 Pat Elflein
2017 Billy Price
This list doesn't include Kirk Lowdermilk, who had a 12-year NFL career and started 150 games, or Corey Linsley, who has started every game since joining the Green Bay Packers in 2013. Those two were All-Big Ten, as were five other OSU centers in that fifty-two year time period.
Since 1966, thirty players have started at center for the Buckeyes. Nearly one-third have become All-Americans and over half have been either All-American or All-Big Ten. The name "Center U" will probably never catch on, but it is certainly a fitting one.
Another Reason To Like Him
I already love OSU quarterback Dwayne Haskins for coming off the bench against Michigan, after J.T. Barrett was injured with the Buckeyes trailing, and leading our favorite college football team to a comeback win over their biggest rival and extending the total and complete misery of maize and blue fans everywhere (after what I had to listen to during the 90's from those people, there isn't enough misery, which can be heaped upon them by the Buckeyes, to make me happy). This past week, Haskins gave me another reason to love him. Instead of spending his spring break at the beach, at home or at school working out, Haskins was at the Sports Academy in Florida. While there, he worked on his game with NFL receivers, including Antonio Brown of the Steelers. His week in Florida doesn't guarantee him the Buckeye starter job he's trying to win, in a battle Joe Burrow and Tate Martell. But, I certainly love his work ethic and dedication. He's still my pick to take the first snap of the season when the Buckeyes play Oregon State on September 1st.
Stress The Positive
When the top-rated recruit in Ohio, Fairfield offensive tackle Jackson Carman, decided to spurn the Buckeyes and sign with Clemson, much was made of the negative recruiting tactics used by Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney. Carman said the Tigers’ boss and his henchmen made claims to him that Urban Meyer wasn’t going to be coaching that much longer. When Buckeye fans cried foul, OSU haters everywhere shot back with the usual, “Everyone does it” claim. Well, according to one member of the the 2018 Buckeye recruiting class, that’s not true.
In an interview conducted buy Land of 10, offensive tackle Max Wray said everyone is afraid of Nick Saban and talked to him a lot about Alabama. He went on to say there was only one school, who never once mentioned Alabama. Anyone want to venture a guess as to who that school may be? It’s our own beloved Ohio State Buckeyes led by Urban Meyer. Wray said Meyer and his staff never once said anything about Alabama or any other school. Instead, they focused on what the Ohio State program has to offer. That impressed the Franklin, Tennessee native enough to give his pledge to the Buckeyes. Wray is an early enrollee and is taking part in spring practice.
As a Browns fan, a lot of things have frustrated me a great deal over the years. Most recently the biggest frustration was former GM Sashi Brown’s complete and total lack of skill in evaluating talent. This is the guy who had a chance to draft Malik Hooker, but instead traded down to take Jabrill Peppers. Think about that one for a minute. But, the thing which has frustrated me most over the years is the organization’s steadfast refusal to draft Ohio state players. Other teams in the NFL rave about the players Urban Meyer churns out, “One thing about an Ohio State football player, man, they come ready. You know you’re getting someone who has been battle tested. They’re accustomed to winning. They’re accustomed to competing”, is what Saints head coach Sean Payton told Eleven Warriors at last year’s pro day in Columbus.
Well, hopefully, the signing of former Buckeye running back Carlos Hyde last week is a sign of a change in attitude. Browns’ GM John Dorsey has made a lot of moves in the past two weeks, but I’m sure none excited Buckeye fans more than bringing in “El Guapo”, as Hyde is known. Hyde, who spent his first four seasons in the league with San Francisco, is certainly an upgrade from Isaiah Crowell, who left via free agency (I really don’t care where he went as long as he wasn’t in a Cleveland uniform in 2018). However, Dorsey has not ruled out still taking a marquee running back in the draft. While I’m interested to see who Dorsey takes with his first two picks (the Browns have the first and fourth picks of the first round), I’m probably even more interested to see if he takes any ex-Buckeyes with the team’s remaining choices. Damon Webb at safety would certainly be an upgrade over Peppers. Wouldn’t Sam Hubbard be a nice addition to the young group of defensive ends the Browns have? Keeping my fingers crossed.
Jesse Owens is considered the greatest athlete Ohio State has ever had. Yes, I know Archie Griffin won two Heisman’s and Jerry Lucas is the most dominant basketball player in school history, but the “Buckeye Bullet” from East Tech High School in Cleveland, transcends them all. But, Saturday night, Owens got some company when Kyle Snyder captured his third consecutive NCAA wrestling championship with a 3-2 win over Michigan’s Adam Coon. Logan Stieber won four straight titles as a Buckeye, but not in the fashion or having to overcome the circumstances Snyder faced. Snyder wrestles at the 97kg limit internationally (about 213 lbs.), but the NCAA does not have this weight class, so he was forced to wrestle as a heavyweight. Despite being outweighed by as much as 50-60 pounds, at times (Coon is 57 pounds heavier), Snyder was dominant. He lost just one match in his final three seasons as a Buckeye (to Coon in February). Combine his domination at the collegiate level with an Olympic gold medal and a World Championship, and you can see why Snyder can take his place very near the top of the greatest Buckeyes of all-time.
Spring practice resumes this week for Urban Meyer’s team and the program’s “pro day” takes place on Thursday (the 22nd).