The Buckeye Battle Cry will be counting down the Top 25 players of the past decade all spring/summer.  Every Monday and Thursday, Jim will be announcing a new player.  Our #1 player will be presented on Monday, August 30th.  Three days later, the 2010 season officially begins.  To view the previous entries in our Top 25, click here.

James Laurinaitis (2006-2008)

One of the most decorated Buckeyes ever, James Laurinaits was the heart and soul of the Silver Bullet defense for three seasons. A tenacious defender and ferocious hitter, Laurinaitis was a player that Ohio State fans will remember with fondness for years.

Despite being by far the most decorated Buckeye defender in the last ten years, I personally don’t think that Laurinaitis was the best linebacker at Ohio State during that time span. In fact, I would argue that he might not even be in the top three, which is why he finds himself at #9 on our countdown instead of in the top 5.

I am sure that some of you will argue with us over this ranking, but remember, we are factoring in more than just post-season awards for this countdown.

So now that we have covered why Laurinaitis isn’t higher on the list, let’s start talking about why he is in the top 10. The previously mentioned post-season decorations are the obvious place to start. Read More

Top 25 Buckeyes of the Decade: #12 Mike Nugent

Written July 22nd, 2010 by Jim

The Buckeye Battle Cry will be counting down the Top 25 players of the past decade all spring/summer.  Every Monday and Thursday, Jim will be announcing a new player.  Our #1 player will be presented on Monday, August 30th.  Three days later, the 2010 season officially begins.  To view the previous entries in our Top 25, click here.

Mike Nugent (2001-2004)

If there has ever been a placekicker more beloved by a fan base than Mike Nugent during his years at Ohio State, I would like to see it. And for good reason, Nugent was the savior of an offense that was at times stagnant during the early years of the decade.

Nugent and Andy Groom formed the best kicking duo in the country in 2002 and were the fuel that made the dominating brand of Tressel Ball v.2002 go, a style that ultimately led to a championship.

In 2003 Nugent teamed up with All-American punter B.J. Sander to once again form one of the best kicking duos in the country and the glory days of Tressel Ball continued.

While 2002 and 2003 were great years for Mike Nugent and the special teams in general, 2004 was Nugent’s crowning achievement at Ohio State. Read More

Top 25 Buckeyes of the Decade: #16 Donte Whitner

Written July 8th, 2010 by Jim

The Buckeye Battle Cry will be counting down the Top 25 players of the past decade all spring/summer.  Every Monday and Thursday, Jim will be announcing a new player.  Our #1 player will be presented on Monday, August 30th.  Three days later, the 2010 season officially begins.  To view the previous entries in our Top 25, click here.

Donte Whitner (2004-2005)

As a strong safety for the Buckeyes, Donte Whitner was a heat seeking missile locked on to any apposing player who was unfortunate enough to be holding the ball. His ability to “bring the wood” was a joy to watch and what every Buckeye fan hopes to see from the Silver Bullet defense.

The only potential knock on Whitner was that his time as a starter was artificially shortened by his entry into the draft, but oh what a time it was.

Whitner showed flashes of greatness in 2004, a year in which he recorded 69 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 1 interception. Despite these numbers, good enough to be the 4th leading tackler on the team, 2004 as a whole was a disappointing year for the Buckeyes, overshadowing any individual achievements.

If 2004 was a the year that Whitner showed flashes, 2005 was certainly the pinnacle of his Buckeye career. To top things off, 2005 was an excellent year overall for the Buckeyes, culminating in the highly enjoyable beat down of Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.

The 2005 team that went to the Fiesta Bowl was one of the best teams that Ohio State has fielded in the past decade, and the defense that shut down the vaunted Notre Dame offense, with Whitner as one of its leaders and stars, was one of the best ever. Read More

The Buckeye Battle Cry will be counting down the Top 25 players of the past decade all spring/summer.  Every Monday through May and June, Jim will be announcing a new player.  Starting in July, we will be announcing new additions on Monday and Thursday.  Our #1 player will be presented on Monday, August 30th.  Three days later, the 2010 season officially begins.  For a look at the rest of the Top 25, click here.

LeCharles Bentley (2000-2001)

Bentley looked good in scarlet and gray.

LeCharles Bentley is another stand out center that was a two year starter for the Buckeyes. In 2001, Bentley was named a First-Team All-American as well as a First-Team All-Big Ten player.

For his efforts on the field in 2001, Bentley was also awarded the Rimington trophy, which has been presented to the “most outstanding” center in college football since 2000.

Bentley was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2002 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints. He went on to have an outstanding rookie season at guard in which he was named the offensive rookie of the year by Sports Illustrated. He was also named to the all rookie team by Pro Football Weekly.

He followed up his outstanding rookie campaign by being named to the Pro Bowl in 2003, 2004 (alternate), and 2005. Bentley signed with his hometown Cleveland Browns in 2006, unfortunately for him and the city, injuries and complications prevented him from ever suiting up in a game for the Browns.

Despite his career being cut short, Bentley was clearly one of the best lineman in college football and in the NFL when he was healthy.

Slightly off topic, but between Mangold and Bentley, Ohio State has produced two of the finest centers college football has seen in the last ten years. Unfortunately, beyond the pair Ohio State’s offensive line has been below average, at least for Ohio State’s lofty standards. Hopefully that trend will be reversed this year from what looks like the best offensive line in the Tressel era.

Back on topic.

For his All-American and All-Big Ten season in 2001, as well as his short but Pro Bowl caliber NFL career, LeCharles Bentley is 21 on our countdown of the top 25 Buckeyes of the decade.

Top 25 Buckeyes of the Decade: #22 Nick Mangold

Written June 1st, 2010 by Jim

The Buckeye Battle Cry will be counting down the Top 25 players of the past decade all spring/summer.  Every Monday through May and June, Jim will be announcing a new player.  Starting in July, we will be announcing new additions on Monday and Thursday.  Our #1 player will be presented on Monday, August 30th.  Three days later, the 2010 season officially begins.

Nick Mangold (2003-2005)

A leader on the field and a character off of it.

It is hard to quantify the impact that lineman have on the game due to a lack of stats that are easy to track. Beyond stats, few people pay attention to what is going on along the line unless there are problems, in which case it is naturally entirely the lines fault.

Despite these limitations in exposure and stats, it is safe to say that Nick Mangold was one of the best players to wear the scarlet and gray over the last ten years regardless of position.

A three year starter at center, Mangold was known as much for his humor off the field as for his leadership and tenacity on it. You may also remember him for the playing time he received in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl as a true freshman. Earning playing time so early in his career in such an important game was a sign of things to come.

Mangold was named a First-Team All-American in 2005 and was drafted 29th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft by the New York Jets.

Apparently he cooks as well. What can't this man do!?

Mangold quickly moved into the starting lineup with the Jets and became a key member of an excellent offensive line. Mangold was a Pro Bowl selection at center in both 2008 and 2009 and is building a reputation as one of the best lineman in the entire NFL.

Center is one of the most crucial positions on offense, and few have played it better than Nick Mangold, in college and in the NFL.

For his leadership of the line in his three years as a starter, for his All-American season in 2005, and for his continued excellence in the NFL, Nick Mangold is number 22 in our countdown of the top 25 players of the last decade.

Top 25 Buckeyes of the Decade: #25 Matt Wilhelm

Written May 10th, 2010 by Jim

Matt Wilhelm (2000-2002)

Wilhelm had a knack for attacking, wracking up the second most tackles for loss for a linebacker in Ohio State history (behind Katzenmoyer).

Matt Wilhelm checks in at number 25 on our countdown of the top players of the decade.

He was an All-American and All-Big Ten performer in 2002 and was one of the leaders on the dominating defense that helped lead the Buckeyes to a National Championship.

Wilhelm led the team in tackles in 2002 with 121, but perhaps more impressively, he had 19.5 tackles for loss that year, good for the 6th best season in Ohio State history.

Being in the backfield characterized Wilhelm as a player. He was always attacking, always in the backfield, and even if he didn’t make the tackle, he was going to hit someone or something to disrupt the offense.

Wilhelm had a way of punishing quarterbacks, most memorably Ken Dorsey in the Fiesta Bowl, I couldn't find a picture of that but this gives you an idea of what it was like standing in the pocket during a Wilhelm blitz.

Wilhelm also has the 6th most career tackles for loss at Ohio State with 43.5, showing that his aggressive style of play was his signature throughout his three years starting at middle linebacker.

He was drafted in the 4th round of the 2003 NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers, and is currently active with the San Francisco 49ers.

For his All-American and All-Big Ten season in 2002 and his key role on the national championship defense, as well as an ultra-aggressive style of play that made him one of my personal favorite Buckeyes of the decade, Matt Wilhelm earned his spot at number 25 on our countdown.

We are unveiling a new feature at the BBC today.

In order to help us get through the long summer months, we will be starting a countdown of the top 25 Buckeyes of the decade (2000-2009).

The staff submitted their ballots and the votes have been tallied. We will unveil a new Buckeye in the countdown once a week and as the season approaches the frequency may increase (I haven’t done the exact math to figure out how this is going to work out).

We will only be covering football players for this countdown, even though Ohio State has had some fine basketball players over the last decade as well, sorry Evan Turner.

One thing to note is that we didn’t really define what it means to be in the “Top 25 Buckeyes of the Decade.”

Do you measure on the field accomplishments? wins and losses? statistics? post season accolades? who you’d want most on this year’s team?

In the end, it is a mix of all of the above and then some, which means that different people will have different opinions about this list. We tried to eliminate some of the individual biases by polling all five writers here at the BBC, and I have to say I am happy with the results. However, by no means is this list definitive, so feel free to chime in with your thoughts.

And with that, here are the guys that didn’t quite make the cut for the top 25, but did receive votes, making them worthy of an honorable mention. Read More