With all the noise surrounding juniors Terrelle Pryor, Boom Herron, DeVier Posey and Mike Adams, there’s a group of seniors playing their final game for the Scarlet & Gray that simply haven’t gotten their due leading up to Tuesday night’s Sugar Bowl showdown with Arkansas.
After all, while no intelligent fan can argue the Buckeyes would be in a BCS bowl without the contributions of those four juniors, it’s just as obvious this team wouldn’t be in New Orleans if not for the seasons turned in by seniors like Devin Barclay, Justin Boren, Bryant Browning, Chimdi Chekwa, Cam Heyward, Jermale Hines, Ross Homan, Dexter Larimore, Brian Rolle, Brandon Saine, Dane Sanzenbacher and Devon Torrence, amongst others.
Serving as captains for the 2010 squad, Browning, Heyward, Homan, Rolle, Saine and Sanzenbacher all turned in solid seasons helping cement the collective legacy of a senior class that won 43 of 51 games (84%), captured four conference championships, four pairs of gold pants via a combined score of 114-17, four BCS bowl appearances including a spot in the 2007 season national championship game and a 2009 season Rose Bowl victory.
We constantly discuss how this is the Golden Era of Buckeye football and looking at the resume above, these guys were right in the middle of it. It is my hope that you all will pitch in with some of your favorite memories or thoughts about members of this senior class as I would like to touch on a few myself.
Easily my favorite senior, the slight receiver has been nothing but a treat to watch because he’s always played the game the right way. He’s one of the best downfield blocking receivers I’ve ever seen (including that BS holding call on what should’ve been a 98 yard TD run from Boom against Michigan) and also one the gutsiest. At 5’11”, 180 lbs, Dane is always willing to go over the middle and sacrifice his body for a catch. He’s endured some concussions along the way but that never deterred him from sacrificing everything for a chance at victory. He also improved every year in Columbus increasing his reception totals from 3 to 21 to 36 to 52 and became not only Pryor’s favorite target but also a scoring machine with 22 TD’s over his final two years.
He’s going to be missed more than most people realize. Living up to his captaincy, he was the clear leader in the WR meetings serving as a fine example for the underclassmen. The dude just “gets it” and he’s been that way from day one.
I’ll never forget Barclay calmly stepping into a 39 yard field goal in overtime to beat Iowa in the ‘Shoe to secure Ohio State’s berth in the Rose Bowl for the first time in 13 years. Hell, he even made me forgot how much I loathe soccer for a few minutes there. The joy on his face as he yanked off his helmet and raced around the field projecting the 3rdgrader in all of us following the kick was a priceless moment.
I admit, it took me awhile to warm up to the Michigan transfer and though not outstanding, he definitely helped solidify some shaky offensive lines. Moreover, he added a mean streak that had been missing from that group since at least 2002. Though it wasn’t his intention, he also added a little flavor to a rivalry that was missing some spark thanks to Tressel kicking Michigan’s ass with refreshing regularity.
Probably an underappreciated leader during his time in Columbus, Homan is a top 20 tackler in OSU history. In fact, Homan in 2nd in stops for this year's squad despite missing the equivalent of of 2+ games. Homan's efforts produced a 1st team all Big-Ten nod (coaches), after turning in a 2nd team performance a year ago leading OSU with 108 tackles including a career high 15 against Wisconsin. He's had his share of timely big plays including 5 INT in 2009 but primarily, he's been a workmanlike anchor of some very good OSU defenses.
In a year that saw him go from starting tailback to complementary player, Saine handled his lack of meaningful snaps with nothing but class and was always ready when he did get a chance to make an impact. From a stud performance standpoint, I’ll always remember his contributions in the 2009 win over Iowa in which he carried it 11 times for 103 yards including monster TD runs of 22 and 49 yards.
Sonic personified Buckeye heart and determination during his tenure in Columbus graduating from special teams missile to manning the middle of one of the best defenses in the country. I always enjoyed how he effortlessly handled the media and embraced tradition especially when you consider his Florida roots. He seemed to always have fun out there and had a knack for big plays. One of my personal favorites occurred on opening day 2009 when he intercepted a Ricky Dobbs two point conversion try that would’ve tied the game and raced the other way for two points. In an otherwise tough game on eyes, Rolle’s play was clutch.
Though his senior season didn’t stuff the stat sheet as much as we’d hoped, Heyward was still a key cog in the 2010 machine ranking 2ndin TFL (9.5) after a junior campaign that saw him rack up 6.5 sacks and 10 TFL.
I’ll always have love for Heyward since he opted to enjoy one more year of college and try for a national championship instead of taking the NFL money a year early. Two games in particular always come to mind when I think of Cam. One is his 2009 mangling of Penn State when he turned in a ridiculous 11 tackles, three TFL and two sacks, singlehandedly shutting down a Lion offense that managed nine first downs on the day thanks to seven 3-and-outs. The other is his 80 yard interception return against Miami. Leading just 23-17 to start the 2ndhalf, the ‘Canes drove to the OSU 9 yard line before Cam dropped back in coverage and snagged a 3rdand 6 Jacory Harris throw then staggering like Otis from the Andy Griffith Show all the way to the Miami 15 yard line. It was the turning point in the game as the Buckeyes scored two plays later and never looked back.
I’ll love him for his tweets almost as much as his style of play. Hines played with a reckless abandon that you want from a safety and his versatility allowed Heacock and company to give offenses multiple looks in addition to helping cover up some gaping holes in a secondary plagued by injuries. A tackling machine, Hines was 4thon the squad in tackles as a junior and ranked 3rdas a senior earning himself 1st team all-conference honors from the coaches. My best memories of Hines come from 2009, however with his 11 tackle, pick six effort against Wisky and his nine stop effort (2 TFL) against Michigan.
Chekwa & Torrence
These two have taken their share of flak over the last two years but still managed to help OSU rank 4th in Passing Yardage Defense, yielding just 156 yards/game while surrendering a national best seven TD passes. Chekwa will never be remembered as being able to make in flight adjustments on the ball and won't go down on Buckeye lore with some of the previous #1 corners at OSU but he was solid more often than not. A three year starter, Chekwa led OSU with 11 tackles in the Fiesta Bowl as a sophomore, earned all-conference honorable mention as a junior in addition to being part of the Buckeyes' 4x100 conference championship relay team and as a senior, he leads the team with 11 passes defensed and three interceptions which was good enough to earn 1st team all-conference. Torrence was clearly less celebrated but served as a fairly steady #2 corner in back to back years. One thing I'll remember about Torrence is that he played well against Michigan including a big effort in 2009 with a pick, a forced furmble and seven tackles.