Who are the most exciting Ohio State football players of the last 25 years?
I made a list. I’m not saying they’re the 10 best players at OSU in the last 25 years, just the most exciting. Feel free to suggest other Buckeyes because many more names could have been included.
The list would not be diminished at all if names like Chris Gamble, David Boston, Santonio Holmes, Joey Bosa, Darron Lee and Curtis Samuel, all pointed out by retired Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Bill Livingston, replaced some of those in the top 10.
1. Ted Ginn Jr. He was recruited as a defensive back but Jim Tressel quickly realized he was much more dangerous with the football in his hands. Ginn scored six touchdowns on punt returns in his career and two on kickoff returns. He caught 15 touchdown passes and ran for three more.
2. Braxton Miller. He could spin away from anyone and outrun nearly everyone. The first quarterback of the Urban Meyer era threw for more than 2,000 yards twice and rushed for more than 1,000 twice before a shoulder injury forced him to move to wide receiver.
3. Terry Glenn was like a comet astronomers didn’t know existed until it appeared unexpectedly and was the brightest light in the sky. He caught 17 touchdown passes at Ohio State and all 17 were in in 1995. He could make this list just on his 82-yard touchdown catch against Notre Dame where he accelerated through the Irish’s defense like he had turbochargers strapped to his ankles.
4. Ezekiel Elliott. He’s ahead of two Heisman Trophy winners but that happens when you’re a threat to take the ball to the end zone anytime. Like Glenn, he could almost make this list on the strength of one play, his 85-yard touchdown run against Alabama
5. Orlando Pace. Can you put an offensive tackle on a most exciting list? When he runs like a tailback you can. When he flattens defensive linemen so totally he gets a name invented for his signature block, the pancake, you can.
6. Troy Smith. He won a Heisman. But what excites Ohio State fans most might be beating Michigan and he did it three years in a row, including the battle between No. 1 OSU and No. 2 Michigan in 2006.
7. Eddie George. He struggled early in his career but 207 yards against Notre Dame, 314 yards against Illinois and 1,927 yards for the season and a Heisman Trophy made 1995 a pretty exciting season.
8. Maurice Clarett. He was completely healthy for only three games and he rushed for 175 and 230 in two of those games in his only year at OSU. And don’t forget stripping Miami’s Sean Taylor after an interception in the national championship game.
9. Devin Smith. He never found consistency but there has not been a deep ball receiver who could come close to Smith, a 7-foot high jumper who ran sprints on OSU’s track team, at tracking the deep ball. His one-handed catch against Miami of Ohio was an all-timer.
10. Malik Hooker. He had seven interceptions and scored three touchdowns in his one season as a starter at safety in 2016.