With a couple more weeks left until we talk about the upcoming season -- Big Ten media days -- we’re scrambling for some actual football discussion. So, to borrow an idea from our pals at the Pac-12 blog, we’re putting together the “All-Century” teams for every Big Ten school.
These are the top lineups each team could field consisting of players who have played since 2000. Next up is Ohio State.
QB Troy Smith: He’s the last Big Ten player to win the Heisman (2006), and our own Adam Rittenberg named him the conference player of the decade.
RB Ezekiel Elliott: Not only did he rush for 1,800-plus yards the past two seasons, but the No. 4 overall NFL draft pick was also instrumental in the Buckeyes’ 2014 national championship run.
RB Chris Wells: He’s fifth all-time in OSU career rushing yards, and only Elliott rushed for more since 2000.
WR Michael Jenkins: He holds the school record for career receiving yards (2,898) and is the only Buckeyes receiver since 2000 to surpass the 1,000-yard plateau in a single season.
WR Santonio Holmes: A 2006 first-round NFL draft pick, Holmes ended his Buckeyes career with 25 TD catches.
TE Ben Hartsock: He didn’t rack up a ton of career receiving yardage, but he was an outstanding blocker who helped lift the Buckeyes to the 2002 national championship.
OL LeCharles Bentley: A 2001 Rimington Trophy winner, Bentley went on to play in two Pro Bowls in the NFL.
OL Jack Mewhort: The Ohio native was named team MVP in 2013 in addition to being a first-team All-American.
OL Pat Elflein: The returning senior is already a two-time all-conference selection and an All-American, and he’ll almost certainly be in the mix this season for the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year award.
OL Nick Mangold: He was a three-year starter who went on to become a first-round NFL draft pick and a seven-time Pro Bowler.
DL Will Smith: Since 2000, only Bosa has registered more than Smith’s 45.5 career tackles for loss.
DL Vernon Gholston: He holds the program’s single-season record for sacks (14) and was a three-time B1G champion. Only Bosa recorded more career sacks (Gholston: 22.5) since 2000.
DL Johnathan Hankins: The defensive tackle was named the team’s best defensive lineman in back-to-back seasons and boasted All-America honors in 2012.
LB A.J. Hawk: The two-time All-American is the only Buckeye this century to win the Lombardi Award.
LB James Laurinaitis: Fewer than 10 Buckeyes have ever been named to the All-America team three times, and Laurinaitis is one of them.
LB Ryan Shazier: No linebacker has recorded more career tackles-for-loss (44.5) since 2000, and only Hawk and Laurinaitis have finished with more tackles.
DB Mike Doss: He became the Buckeyes’ first three-time All-American since punter Tom Skladany in the 1970s. He’s also the only defensive back in Ohio State history to lead the team in tackles back-to-back seasons.
DB Malcolm Jenkins: The three-time all-conference selection became the only Buckeye this century -- and just the second OSU player overall -- to win the Jim Thorpe Award.
DB Chris Gamble: Ohio State’s Swiss army knife started 18 times on defense and 12 on offense, but the playmaker’s ability at cornerback can’t be ignored. He was a two-time All-B1G selection and a third-team All-American.
DB Bradley Roby: The first-round NFL draft pick led the nation in passes defended as a sophomore (19) while racking up first-team All-America honors. Athlon also named him a third-team All-American the next season, in 2013.
K Mike Nugent: He made more field goals (72) than any other Ohio State kicker, and he’s also the school’s all-time leader in field goal percentage (81.8).
P Cameron Johnston: The returning senior might not have the best career punting average -- that falls to Andy Groom -- but his ability to place the ball inside the 20-yard line is unequaled.
KR/PR Ted Ginn Jr.: Since 2000, no Buckeye has racked up more all-purpose yards than Ginn (4,068). He had eight career return touchdowns.