Dave Thurman (11:45 AM)

TSB salutes all US troops past and present.  We remember that some things are even more important than football, and that freedom isn't free!
Dave Thurman (11:22 am)

In this ongoing series TSB has already ranked the ten greatest receivers in Buckeye history...now on to the linebackers.

There have been so many great linebackers at Ohio State through the years that it might be easier to have a Top Twenty at this position, and even then we'd be forced to leave out some good ones.  But here, in my opinion, are the best of the best:

10. Pepper Johnson - An extremely big, physical linebacker, Johnson was a star at Ohio State and also in the NFL.  He was such a fine leader that he was chosen as a captain as both a junior and a senior.

9.  Steve Tovar - Good enough to work his way into the starting lineup as a true freshmen, Tovar totaled over 400 tackles in his career, leading the team three straight years.

8.   Matt Wilhelm - Wilhelm played middle linebacker on probably the best Buckeye defense of the post-Woody era, and not only led the team in tackles, but registered 19.5 tackles for loss for the National Champions in '02.

7.  Marcus Marek - Though undersized, Marek was a heat-seeking missile who always found his target, and wound up his career with 572 tackles to sit atop the list...more than any Buckeye in history! 

6.  James Laurinaitis - Baby Animal was a three-time All American who brought home as much hardware as any linebacker to play at OSU.  It is a testimony to how many great ones have worn the Scarlet and Gray that he is only sixth on this list.
Drew Thurman (1:19 pm)

In this series of profiles, we are taking a look at some of the under the radar Buckeye players who play a vital role in a championship run. Everyone knows the importance of players like Pryor, Saine, Posey, Brewster, Boren, Heyward, Homan, and Rolle. This series is not about those big names players, rather the indispensable guys that get looked over. Check out #9 Devon Torrence...

Why he is important:

Torrence is an important piece to puzzle for multiple reasons. First, playing cornerback in college football these days makes you an automatic asset. With the emergence of the spread, if you aren't deep at corner, you're dead. Lucky for the Buckeyes, they return Torrence along with fellow senior Chimdi Chekwa. Together they should help anchor the defensive secondary in 2010. The Buckeyes will need strong corner play with the departures of Coleman and Russell at safety, and the experience the departed with them.

Secondly, Torrence has a vital role on this team because of his raw athleticism. Those skills helped him win out the starting job early in the season in 2009, and led him to 35 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and one sack. It was fun to watch Torrence as the year unfolded, because his understanding of the game continued to progress, which combined with his athleticism made a lethal combination. Maybe the best example of the strides he made was in the Michigan game, when he intercepted a pass in the endzone to seal the victory.

Finally, Torrence could find a role in the special teams as well. He was one of handful of guys returning kicks and punts this spring, and has made it very clear that he wants to be used in multiple capacities in 2010.
Drew Thurman (9:41 am)

linch·pin or lynch·pin

1. A locking pin inserted in the end of a shaft, as in an axle, to prevent a wheel from slipping off.

A central cohesive element

So what does a linchpin have to do with Ohio State football? Well, I just got done reading Seth Godin's latest book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? In it he describes people in organizations who are indispensable and cannot be replaced. They might not have the flashiest role, but are vital to the overall success of the organization. I think the analogy also makes sense for the Buckeyes this season.

Everyone knows the importance of players like Pryor, Saine, Posey, Brewster, Boren, Heyward, Homan, and Rolle. These guys will get most of the preseason press, and we all know how crucial they are to a national championship run. What often gets overlooked is the impact of some of the less flashy guys. The players who don't put up the best stats or have the most Buckeye helmet stickers, but are vital to the team. For some of these guys it's their play that makes them indispensable, coming up with the right plays at the right time, while for others its just the role they find themselves in. Regardless, I want to focus on 10 players who are linchpins for the Buckeyes in 2010. Let's start at No. 10 with Ben Buchanan.
Dave Thurman (8:41 pm)

During college football's dreaded dead period, while starving Buckeye fans fight for table scraps, I've decided to feature a series of Top Ten lists.  Over the next few weeks we'll look at the greatest to don the Scarlet and Gray at a few positions, beginning with wide receiver.  Before we rank the best pass catchers of all time, let me confess that for this position I am only considering players from 1979 on, since Woody used the forward pass about as often as today's coaches employ the Single Wing Offense.  Consider that even the great Paul Warfield never caught more than 22 passes in a season!  So, with the ground rules in place, here are the Top Ten Greatest Ohio State Receivers in history:

10. Anthony Gonzalez and Ted Ginn Jr.  I can't separate these two receivers who played so well together.  Gonzo ran precise routes and was unafraid to cut across the middle.  His catch against scUM in 2005 is reason enough to put him on this list.  Meanwhile, TGII relied mostly on his speed, but you can't overlook his numbers or the fear he struck in the heart of defensive coordinators.

9. Dee Miller - Although overshadowed by David Boston, all Miller did was have back-to-back seasons of 58 and 59 catches, each for over 900 yards.

8. Gary Williams - A lot of Buckeye fans have forgotten about this smooth receiver from Wilmington, but he was the picture of consistency, hauling in at least one pass in 48 straight games.

7. Doug Donley - White Lightening was not only fast, he could catch the ball, and led the team in receiving three straight seasons.

6. Santonio Holmes - Long before his Superbowl winning catch or off-the-field problems, Santonio was a stud in Scarlet and Gray with great speed and excellent hands.
It is Twitter, but it's hard to deny the language coming from Mr. Martin. We all thought that one of the running backs would transfer with all the depth, and Martin would make sense. Just one more thing to follow this summer. (ht Nick Smith)
Look for Evan Spencer in Scarlet and Gray next year
Dave Thurman (9:36 am)

With a fabulous start to the class of 2011, Buckeye fans are hoping for a top five finish come signing day next February.  So who exactly will complete this class?  Let's look position by position at who is already "in the house," and who TSB thinks will eventually join them in what promises to be a special class.

Verbals - 0
Possibilities - Braxton Miller, Cardale Jones, and Jarrard Randall
Who they get - Braxton Miller, maybe the next great one in Scarlet and Gray

Running Back:
Verbals - 0
Possibilities - James Wilder and Erick Howard
Who they get - Erick Howard (after a year to get his grades in order at Fork Union)

Wide Receiver:
Verbals - 0
Possibilities - Phillip Dorsett, Shane Wynn, Evan Spencer, and Ju'Juan Story
Who they get - Shane Wynn and Evan Spencer
Drew Thurman (7:27 am)

If the 2011 class doesn't have you a little bit excited, you need to check your pulse. Tressel and company had already been putting together one of the best classes in the country, and things got better yesterday when defensive tackle Michael Bennett (Centerville, OH) committed. Bennett, is one of the best handful of players in the state, and is a top ten defensive tackle in the country. Just a week ago fans and experts were worried that Northwestern was becoming a major player for his services, thanks to their academics, but in the end the Buckeyes nabbed another lineman. In fact, he joins seven other offensive and defensive lineman in this class.

Anyway you shake it, the staff is dominating the Midwest recruiting scene, starting with Ohio. It feels like anyone they want in-state, they end up getting. I'm a little shocked Kelly and the Irish haven't been able to make more of impact in Ohio this year. Don't get me wrong, he is putting together a solid class, but his Ohio connections have produced very little thus far. We will have to see if things will change when some of the big name recruits commit down the road. 

As for the Buckeyes, keep close tabs on the recruiting situation the rest of the way in 2011. Why? Well, because this could very well be one of Tressel's best classes ever when the dust settles. With eleven commitments already in the bag and a ton of big names putting the Buckeyes at the top of their lists, things seem to be coming together nicely. Ohio boys Braxton Miller, Trey DePriest and Doran Grant are all still on the board would put this class over the top. Combine them with out-of-state guys like Kevin McReynolds, Evan Spencer, Jabari Gorman and Wayne Lyons, and you have to wonder what this class could become.

Class of 2011:

1) DE Ken Hayes
2) DE Steve Miller
3) OL Chris Carter
4) OL Antonio Underwood
5) CB DerJuan Gambrell
6) OL Brian Bobek
7) DT Chase Farris
8) OL Tommy Brown
9) S Jeremy Cash
10) TE Jeff Heuerman
11) DT Michael Bennett
Drew Thurman (3:32 pm)

It's not a new revelation that the Buckeyes have struggled on the offensive line under Jim Tressel and Jim Bollman. While Tressel's squads consistently provide the defense and skill position players to contend for a national championship every year, the big guys up front have been the source of much frustration in Columbus. At times they appear out of shape, while at other moments they just look terribly coached. That may sound a bit harsh, but with the amount of big name recruits that have amounted to nothing in recent years, you have to start to wonder what is going on behind the scenes.

All that aside though, there does appear to be hope in 2010.

That hope stems from the way the offensive line played to close the season. If you remember, it was a huge turnaround from how things started. Just go back to the first half of the season, starting with the Navy game. The offense sputtered, much of which can be contributed to the offensive line. It was the defense that really was in a groove, while Pryor was throwing for 100 yards a game and Saine and Herron struggled to get going.

The breaking point happened in back-to-back games against Wisconsin and Purdue. Many forget the Wisconsin game because the Buckeyes won, thanks to defensive and special teams play, but it was a dismal offensive performance. In fact, the Badgers outgained OSU 368 to 184 yards that afternoon. The following week the offense followed up this spectacular performance with a defeat in West Lafayette to Purdue. Don't get me wrong, these games were probably two of Pryor's worst, but the offensive line was awful too. They looked outmatched, lazy, and there seemed to be very little hope that Buckeyes would be able to handle the upcoming schedule.       
Drew Thurman (12:01 pm)

ESPN has started this project to find out which NCAA school is the best pipeline to the NFL. They scored teams based on the 1979-2009 NFL Drafts, and the Buckeyes came in at a No. 12 seed. I was a little shocked at the low ranking, especially considering the amount of players the Buckeyes have put into the draft the last two decades. I was especially surprised to see the Buckeyes third in the Big Ten, and also behind teams like Arizona State (sorry that is garbage).

The Buckeyes face No. 5 seed Tennessee in their first round matchup. Rather than letting the general public vote (like with the helmet contest), ESPN has wisely left it up to experts. Personally, I think UT versus OSU in terms of NFL talent is not even close, and it was nice to see the experts back that up. Matt Williamson of Scout Inc. (former NFL and college scout):  

"The Buckeyes win on sheer volume. Peyton Manning is an extremely formidable opponent, but he can't do it alone. Clearly, Ohio State cannot compare at the quarterback position, but its offensive linemen are extremely impressive. The Buckeyes just bring more to the table on a position-by-position overview. I will contend that Tennessee has a little more NFL upside based on the past handful of draft classes. If these two meet again a few years down the road, the results might be different. For this battle, it is just too difficult to go against Ohio State's volume in favor of what is pretty much a one-man show for the Vols."

So, I'm still not sure how the Buckeyes got the No. 12 seed. Anyways, this is just something fun to watch this week since there isn't a ton of news coming out. The Buckeyes will next face No. 4 seed Florida State...