Since I started in with the Ohio State all-decade football team from 2000 through 2009 last week by recognizing the defensive tackle picks, including Charleston's own Darrion Scott from Capital High School, I thought I'd better continue this week with the rest of the Land-Grant Holy Land selections by position.
Of course, quarterback is the position the most people are always interested in. The candidates were Craig Krenzel, with a 2002 national championship ring to his credit; Troy Smith, the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner who seemed to play his best games against Michigan; and Terrelle Pryor, 31-4 as a three-year starter with Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl (although later vacated) wins.
Smith got the nod, rushing for over 1,100 yards and passing for over 5,700, with only 13 interceptions in his OSU career,
But "his masterpiece," noted the LGHL staff, was the classic 2006 No. 1 vs. No. 2 Ohio State vs. Michigan game, in which Smith threw for 316 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-39 Buckeye win to get OSU a spot in the national-championship game.
At running back, despite Jonathan Wells and Antonio Pittman in the mix, the choice came down to between the enigmatic Maurice Clarett -a one-season shooting star as a freshman for OSU in its 2002 national-championship run before everything went awry for the talented, but troubled youngster -and Beanie Wells, fourth on the Buckeye all-time career rushing yardage list with 3,382
In 2007, Wells had highlight-reel 221 and then 222-yard rushing games against Michigan State and Michigan respectively, and in 2008, he missed three games due to injury, but still managed to rush for 1,197 yards to edge out Clarett for the all-decade running-back spot.
Like one blogger said, "Either one could've been the guy. Mo had that one incredible year, and Beanie had an exceptional career. Wouldn't have been upset if Mo won."
Staying with the offense, wide receiver is another high-profile position the Buckeyes had a number of excellent players at in the 2000s with Santonio Holmes and Michael Jenkins tabbed as the top two.
Other possibilities were 2004-06 teammates Anthony Gonzalez and Ted Ginn Jr. along with Brian Robiskie (2005-2008) and Brian Hartline (2006-2008), and one of my favorites, Dane Sanzenbacher (2007-2010).
But Holmes (2003-2005) "had the stats, the consistency and the dominance to get on the all-decade list," said LGHL, while Jenkins (2001-2003), the last OSU wide receiver to put up a 1,000-yard season (1,076 on 61 catches in 2002), will always be remembered for his clutch fourth-down catch for a with a minute left at Purdue to eke out a 10-7 win to keep the Buckeyes on track to the 2002 national title.
I've run out of room, but let me list the other all-decade choices:
Offense: Kicker: Mike Nugent (no doubt!); Tight end: Ben Hartsock, Jake Ballard runner-up; Fullback: Zach Boren; Linemen: center LeCharles Bentley; guards Rob Sims, Adrien Clarke; tackles Shane Olivea, Kirk Barton.
Defense: Middle linebacker: James Laurinaitis (who else could it be?); Outside linebackers: A.J. Hawk, Bobby Carpenter; Cornerbacks: Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Gamble (no question!); Safeties: Mike Doss, Donte Whitner; Ends: Will Smith, Vernon Gholston.
But I still needed a punter, but had to go to another source, Buckeyeempire.com, for it as apparently one wasn't picked in this group. But it turned out who I thought it might be anyway -Andy Groom. He averaged 45 yards a boot, the best career average for a punter in OSU football history, in 2001 and 2002.
Contact Steve Hemmelgarn at firstname.lastname@example.org