Your Ohio State Buckeyes just had a phenomenal 2014 NFL draft. The Scarlet and Gray led the conference with six players taken and ranked sixth overall in picks among schools in the draft. Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen the last of Ryan Shazier, Bradley Roby, Carlos Hyde, Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley and Christian Bryant in Columbus but the six left behind a bevy of highlights. In order to celebrate their achievements, I’ve compiled what I believe to be their career best play as a Buckeye.
By nature, the term “best play” is a subjective one. It’s important we all understand that going in. With that said, the filter used to select these plays was simple: did the play physically eject me out of my seat in jubilation?
Viewed through that lens…let’s get to it.
In 2012, the Ohio State Buckeyes were 10-0 and looking to get their eleventh win in Madison before heading back to Columbus to take on the Wolverines with a shot at an undefeated season. With roughly three minutes left in regulation the Buckeyes found their hopes of a perfect season in serious jeopardy. Up by a touchdown, the Scarlet and Gray defense faced a fourth and one at the goal-line with all-beast-everything, Montee Ball, licking his chops in the Badger backfield.
Ball took the hand-off and went airborne, but Shazier let him know he wasn’t cleared for take-off. The jarring hit kept Ball out of the endzone (for what would have been his 79th career touchdown, good enough for first all-time in CFB), caused a fumble and helped preserve the Buckeyes’ undefeated season.
Roby made a habit of getting into punters’ crankshafts, so it was hard to move this play to the back-burner, but from a sheer “WOW that kid is a shut-down corner” perspective this snap against Penn State has to take the cake.
Up 28-10 in the ninth game of the 2012 season, the Buckeyes were looking to put the Nittany Lions to bed. On a third and 8, quarterback, Matt McGloin dropped back, pump faked, then found receiver, Allen Robinson, wide open in the endzone.
It was a sure-fire touchdown…until Roby Roby’d. Call it luck, call it talent, or call it instinct but this is one of the finer plays you’ll ever see a college cornerback make.
Carlos Hyde is a man. Seemingly any one of his runs during the 2013 season could be considered a career best. I’m hard pressed to remember a back that rushed with more purpose on every carry than Hyde did last season.
So, if goosebumps are what you’re looking for, feel free to watch his entire 2013 highlight reel But, for our purposes we have to narrow it down to one. There’s no doubt that “one” is his #beastmode run against Iowa.
In a way-too-close-for-comfort game, the Buckeyes found themselves tied with the Hawkeyes early in the fourth quarter. On first and ten from the Iowa 18 yard line, Hyde took the hand-off, sliced through the Hawkeye defense, took the full-brunt of an Iowa defender’s tackle, then signed his name into the big book of Buckeye lore.
Jack Mewhort is everything you’d want in a football player. He’s versatile (can play all five positions on the offensive line), he’s a leader and he anchored an offensive line that set a number of offensive records in 2013 including total yards (7,167), rushing yards (4,321), points scored (637), total touchdowns (83) and passing touchdowns (38).
Offensive lineman highlights aren’t always sexy, but wow do they help others make plays. In his last game as a Buckeye, Mewhort was handed one of his toughest assignments: block Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley. The second team All-American (who led the ACC with 13 sacks) was gunning for Braxton Miller all-night. Mewhort made sure he didn’t get a piece him on this play, leading to a go-ahead touchdown just before halftime. This is hog-molly football. Well done Mewhort.
Much like Mewhort, Linsley was a huge part of the Buckeyes’ offensive success. The Youngstown native started all 26 games at center over the past two seasons leading to an All-Big Ten selection and a captainship.
Corey’s contributions to the team are too numerous to name, but none stands out more than a play he made back in 2012 against the University of Central Florida.
With roughly ten minutes to go in the second quarter of the Buckeyes’ tilt against the Knights, Miller’s protection broke down and he was forced to scramble to his left. UCF defensive lineman, Victor Gray, gave chase but Linsley wasn’t having any of that. Taking off on a dead sprint, the 6’3’’ 298 lbs Linsley covered ten yards and committed a crime.
Christian Bryant played just five games in 2013 and he was still selected in the draft. That should tell you all you need to know about Bryant’s abilities.
Bryant started for three years as the Buckeyes’ safety recording 171 tackles, 2 interceptions, 23 pass break-ups, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Seemingly every week, Bryant and Shazier competed to see who could knock more snot out of an opponent. Much like any of the players on this list, Bryant made a number of amazing plays as a Buckeye, but none showcased what he did best quite like this hit on Denard Robinson from 2012.
Up by just two points in the third quarter of The Game, the Buckeye defense was in need of a momentum changing play. Following a 30-yard pass from Devin Gardner to Jeremy Gallon, Robinson came in (which meant RUN). Sure enough, good ol’ Shoelace kept the hand-off and tried to slice up the middle. Bryant recognized the play immediately and blew it up getting his helmet on the ball and forcefully ejecting it from Robinson’s grasp. The fumble was recovered by Nathan Williams and effectively killed any momentum the previous play generated. From that point on, the Wolverines never scored again. Game. Blouses.
There’s no doubt fans could debate the best career play of these Buckeyes. If you’re headed to the NFL, you’ve got an impressive highlight reel to choose from. However, every one of the plays outlined above was a game-changer that showcased what these players did best. Good luck to all six as well as the other Buckeyes taken as undrafted free agents. You earned it fellas.