Monday, June 25, 2012

ALL-TIME OHIO STATE FOOTBALL TEAM: DEFENSIVE LINE, SPECIALISTS

As Urban Meyer said, "John Simon (above) is Ohio State football"
TBT photo/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
I am currently doing a series of columns listing my all-time Ohio State football team — position-by-position, including head coach. 

I have already announced my starting tight end and offensive line on Saturday. (Note: for those who didn't get a chance to read the last column, I have listed said players near the end of this piece)

Today, I will be naming my starting defensive line and specialists ...

DEFENSIVE TACKLES
Jim Stillwagon
Jim Stillwagon (1967-70)

Stillwagon was part of an Ohio State team that won two national championships (1968, 1970) and was voted a two-time consensus All-American selection, as well as a recipient of the Outland Trophy (nation's best interior lineman) and Lombardi Award (1970).

I SELECTED HIM BECAUSE ... Stillwagon was Mr. Versatility. At 6-foot, 200-pounds, he played at an All-American level at tackle, end and linebacker. Stillwagon is arguably the greatest Buckeye defender — regardless of position — to ever suit up in the Scarlet and Gray.

John Simon (2009-present)

A first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2011 — as well as third-team AP All-American honors — Simon played every spot on the Buckeyes' defensive front last season as a junior and did it at a dominating level. Simon, who logged a team-high seven sacks in 2011, could be the best all-around defensive lineman in all of college football.

I SELECTED HIM BECAUSE ... Simon is the most ferocious defender I have ever seen in a Buckeyes' uniform. When Urban Meyer comes in and demands Simon be a captain — even though it's voted on by the players, you take notice. Meyer said Simon "is Ohio State football."

DEFENSIVE ENDS
Jim Marshall
Jim Marshall (1956-59)

Marshall was an integral part of the Buckeyes 1957 national championship team. He was an All-American as a starter on the Buckeyes defensive front and became a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

I SELECTED HIM BECAUSE ... Marshall follows my trend of athletes over brutes. Marshall was extremely quick and agile for a man 6-foot-4, 250-pounds and could take over a game from the defensive line as good as any one to ever play the game. For example, in a 1959 game against top-ten ranked Purdue, where the Buckeyes won 14-0, Marshall scored two defensive touchdowns — on an interception and a fumble — and even kicked the extra points. Yes, he scored EVERY point scored in the game.

Bill Willis
Bill Willis (1941-44)

Willis was a key member of the Buckeyes 1942 national championship team's defense. Willis won numerous All-American awards at Ohio State and is a member of both the college and professional football hall of fame. Willis is one of just seven Ohio State players to have his jersey number (99) retired by the school.

I SELECTED HIM BECAUSE ... When you have a defensive lineman who was also a track star in the 100m dash — and had a relentless motor like Willis — you put him on your all-time team. Period with an exclamation point.

SPECIALISTS
Mike Nugent
KICKER: Mike Nugent (2001-04)

Nugent is the Buckeyes' all-time leader in career points scored (356) and field goals (76). He was a two-time consensus All-American (2002, 2004) and a winner of the 2004 Lou Groza Award (given annually to the nation's top place kicker). He was also the leading scorer of the Buckeyes' 2002 national championship team.

I SELECTED HIM BECAUSE ... When you are the only kicker ever at OSU to be voted as the team's most valuable player (2004), I don't think much of an explanation is needed for his inclusion on my list.

PUNTER: Tom Skladany (1973-76)

Skladany was a three-time All-American and had a 42.7 yards per punt average for his career. Yes, I said three-time All-American.

I SELECTED HIM BECAUSE ... He was considered the greatest punter in the nation every year he played in Columbus. Also, when you can punt at least five times against Michigan (1976) and average 52.3 yards per boot, that will get you on my team.


If you would like to comment, debate or offer up your opinions, you can contact me at lee@bryantimes.com or on Twitter @LeeHudnell_TBT.