In today's listing of my all-time Ohio State football team, I will be naming my starting cornerbacks and safeties ...
Note: In case you haven't read the previous columns of my team, I have added a recap of my previous picks at the end of the article.
Shawn Springs (1993-96)
Springs garnered a plethora of prestigious honors during his playing days at Ohio State, including being named consensus All-American in 1996, as well the Big Ten Conference's Defensive Player of the Year. Spring was also a two-time All-Big Ten first teamer (1995-96) and the third overall selection in the 1997 NFL Draft (Seattle).
I SELECTED HIM BECAUSE ... Springs could do it all. He could press in man coverage, come up and and make a big hit in run support and even return kicks if need be. He doesn't set the world on fire with gaudy defensive statistics, but there's a reason for that ... opposing quarterbacks avoided him like a cat seeing a rottweiler.
Antoine Winfield (1995-98)
Winfield was a two-time All-American at Ohio State, including a consensus selection in his senior year (1998). Winfield was the winner of the Jim Thorpe Award (nation's best defensive back) that season, as well. The 5-foot-9 cornerback was also named to the Big Ten all-conference first team twice (1997-98). He was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft.
I SELECTED HIM BECAUSE ... Winfield is the epitome of the phrase, "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog." Although Winfield was short in stature, the little man could lower the boom and had no fear putting his nose in on a bigger player to make a tackle. In fact, Winfield led the Buckeyes in tackles in 1997 with 100, including a ridiculous 82 solo stops. He was the best pure form tackler I have ever seen.
Like Springs, quarterbacks would throw away from Winfield at all costs keeping his interception totals pedestrian.
Jack Tatum (1968-70)
Tatum was three-time first team All-Big Ten selection (1968, 69, 70) and a two-time consensus All-American (1969-70) at Ohio State, helping lead a Buckeye defense that won two national championships. He finished seventh on the Heisman Trophy ballots in 1970. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and was a first round selection by the Oakland Raiders in the 1971 NFL Draft.
I SELECTED HIM BECAUSE ... When it comes to hard hits, no one in history could bring it like Tatum. I mean, he wasn't nicknamed "The Assassin" because he was timid. Tatum would even be on my All-Time NFL team, as well.
Mike Doss (1999-2002)
When it comes to defensive accomplishment in an Ohio State uniform, Doss is second to none. The Canton-native was named first-team All-American three times (2000, 01, 02), as well as first-team All-Big Ten thrice. He was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2002, while leading the Buckeyes to a national championship. Doss was named MVP in the title game against Miami (Fla.).
I SELECTED HIM BECAUSE ... Doss played at an All-American level essentially as soon as he hit the field at Ohio State. Not only could Doss lay the lumber like Tatum, but he could play the pass in the secondary like a gold-glove center fielder. Doss was all about being a Buckeye, too. He was being tabbed as a top NFL prospect after his junior season in 2001 by every reputable scouting service in the country, but decided to come back for his senior year because he had "some unfinished business."
He finished it by bringing the crystal football back to Columbus.
Tomorrow on my All-Time Buckeyes squad: Linebackers.
Here's a recap of my all-time team (click on position) ...