The summer offseason is in full swing, and Lettermen Row is trying to survive it with our annual Position Week breakdowns. By the time all nine units at Ohio State have been covered, training camp and media days will nearly have arrived â€” and the return of football in the Horseshoe will be just around the corner. Letâ€™s roll right along by turning the attention to the offensive line for the Buckeyes.
COLUMBUS — Ohio State has produced plenty of offensive line talent in the last 10 years.
Pat Elflein and Billy Price each won Rimington Awards, which go to the top center in college football. Taylor Decker was named the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2015;Â Jack Mewhort was a two-time first-team all-conference selection in 2013 and 2014. In the 2021 NFL Draft, two offensive linemen went in the opening three rounds.
But the talent amassed by Ohio State from 1950 to 2000 on the offensive line is tough to top. Orlando Pace is considered one of the best offensive lineman in this history of college football, whileÂ Jim Parker set the bar for all guards to follow in his path.
It’s Offensive Line Week at Lettermen Row, and the Buckeyes have plenty of all-time talent. Here’s the top-five players to ever play on the Buckeyes’ offensive line:
Orlando Pace, 1994 to 1996
The best offensive lineman to ever play at Ohio State and one of the best to every play college football, Orlando Pace has to be at the top of this list. Nicknamed “The Pancake Man” for the number of pancake blocks he tallied during his time in Columbus, he tallied 80 of those knockdowns during his junior season. He redefined the role of the offensive lineman, too, showing his downfield blocking ability. Pace finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting his senior year — an unheard-of accomplishment for an offensive tackle. The two-time consensus All-American was named both the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the 1996 season. The only two-time winner of the Lombardi Award, given to the best college lineman or linebacker, he also won the Outland Award. Pace is from Sandusky and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame; he’s the last Ohio State product to be picked No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft.
Korey Stringer, 1992 to 1994
A native of Warren, Ohio, Korey Stringer was dubbed a must-get recruit for John Cooper. Ohio State landed the 6-foot-4, 335-pound offensive tackle, and he played immediately in Columbus. He started six games in his rookie season, earning Big Ten Newcomer of the Year honors and second-team all-conference. Stringer was named a first-team All-American in his sophomore season, helping Ohio State to a Big Ten title and blocking forÂ running back Raymont Harris, who rushed for 1,344 yards and 12 touchdowns. With the arrival of Orlando Pace in his junior year, Ohio State boasted one of the top offensive lines in the country. With the duo of running back Eddie George and quarterbackÂ Bobby Hoying in the backfield, the Buckeyes captured their first win over Michigan in the Horseshoe in a decade. Stringer was named a consensus All-American and finalist for the Rimington and Outland awards. He was named the Big Ten offensive lineman of the year in both 1993 and 1994.
Jim Parker, 1954 to 1956
The first Outland Trophy winner in Ohio State history, Jim Parker set the tone for all offensive lineman to come. When he was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame, Woody Hayes called Parker the greatest offensive lineman he ever coached. In his three seasons as a starter, the Buckeyes won 23 of 28 games, captured the 1954 national championship and won back-to-back Big Ten titles. A two-time All-American, Parker’s ability to run-block and pull paired with his 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame stood out.Â Agile and quick-footed, he blocked for 1955 Heisman Trophy award winnerÂ Howard Cassady. Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1974, he was a member of Sports Illustrated’s All-Century team as a first-team guard.
John Hicks, 1970 to 1973
John Hicks burst onto the scene in his sophomore season, winning a starting tackle job and helping the Buckeyes reach the Rose Bowl. But the 6-foot-5, 258-pound lineman missed the entirety of his sophomore season with a knee injury sustained in the preseason. He bounced back to put together one of the best two-year stretches by any offensive lineman in Ohio State history, named a consensus All-American both seasons and helping the Buckeyes to two Big Ten titles and back-to-back appearances in the Rose Bowl. In his three full seasons as a starter, the Buckeyes went 28-3-1. He nearly completed the three-peat on the award circuit in 1973, winning the Outland and Lombardi trophies and finishing second for the Heisman. A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Hicks was named to Sport Illustrated’s All-Century squad as a first-team guard.
Wyatt Davis, 2018 to 2021
A member of last summer’s Big Ten All-Decade team, he could have left after an impressive 2019 season in which he was named to multiple All-American teams. But he opted to return, starting at right guard and serving as a team captain. He opted out in September when the Big Ten sputtered around, trying to figure out if it would play a season. When the conference did put a schedule in place, he returned. The plan didnâ€™t go perfectly â€” he injured his knee against Indiana. Instead of exiting Ohio State and rehabbing what was then a low-grade injury in preparation for the NFL Draft, he played with a nagging knee problem through Ohio Stateâ€™s most crucial stretch of the season. He left ColumbusÂ as a four-time Big Ten champion. He has a Rose Bowl win, a Sugar Bowl victory and two appearances in the College Football Playoff. Davis won the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year last season, as well.