Decade in Review: Ohio State's Top 20 Individual Athletes of the 2010s

By Dan Hope on January 26, 2020 at 1:00 pm
Kyle Snyder

Narrowing down Ohio State’s greatest athletes of the 2010s was no easy task.

Decade in Review: The 2010s

Given that Ohio State has more than 30 varsity sports teams and is nationally competitive in most of them, there have been no shortage of individual Buckeyes who had spectacular and historic careers over the past 10 years.

Originally, we were going to rank just the top 10 individual athletes of the past decade. Cutting down that list would have been nearly impossible, so we’re ranking the top 20 instead.

Even so, there’s plenty of other athletes with real cases that they deserve to be on the list, including conference players of the year, All-Americans, school record holders and even individual national champions. With so many Buckeyes who achieved greatness over the past 10 years, there were many difficult omissions, including Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame inductee and women's hockey star Natalie Spooner, fencing national champion and Olympic qualifier Zain Shaito and record-breaking football running back J.K. Dobbins – just to name a few.

Depending on your perspective, you might argue that there’s too many football players on the list or not enough – the notoriety of each athlete was considered in constructing this list, which means you’ll see a greater number of athletes from Ohio State’s most prominent sports teams, but ultimately, the primary objective of this countdown is to recognize the athletes who achieved at the highest individual level over the past 10 years regardless of sport.

This list is only intended to reflect what each athlete accomplished while he or she was still an Ohio State student-athlete, so it does not take post-Ohio State professional accomplishments into consideration, though non-collegiate accomplishments that happened while the athlete was still a student-athlete (i.e. Kyle Snyder’s 2016 Olympic gold medal) were factored into consideration.

20. Ben Randall, Men’s Lacrosse (2017-18)

Randall only played at Ohio State for two seasons after beginning his collegiate career at Stony Brook, but the defenseman was a first-team USILA All-American in both of those seasons – a feat that no other player in Ohio State men’s lacrosse has ever achieved even once.

He helped lead Ohio State to its first-ever appearance in the NCAA men’s lacrosse championship game in 2017.

19. Braxton Miller, Football (2011-15)

Miller was Ohio State’s first football superstar of the 2010s, earning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors in both 2012 and 2013 after leading the Buckeyes to back-to-back undefeated regular seasons. He also won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football and Big Ten Quarterback of the Year honors in both of those seasons, and was the 2011 Big Ten Freshman of the Year after taking over as Ohio State’s starting quarterback that season – cumulatively, his seven individual Big Ten awards are the most in conference history.

If Miller hadn’t suffered a shoulder injury before the 2014 season that ended his run as Ohio State’s starting quarterback, he’d likely be higher on this list now. But it was on the back of his combined passing and running ability that Ohio State won 24 games in 2012 and 2013, kicking off what would be a spectacular seven-year run for Urban Meyer as the Buckeyes’ head football coach, and he’ll long be remembered as one of Ohio State’s most electrifying playmakers ever.

Braxton Miller
Braxton Miller was Ohio State's first football superstar of the 2010s, earning him a place among Ohio State's best athletes of the decade.

18. Irina Andrianova, Pistol (2015-18)

Ohio State’s pistol team was dominant for much of the 2010s, winning team titles in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018 and the women’s title in 2017. No individual played a bigger role in that dominance than Andrianova.

Andrianova won three straight national titles in women’s sport pistol and two straight national titles in women’s two-gun aggregate. Andrianova was either a first- or second-team All-American in standard, air and sport pistol in all four of her collegiate seasons for a total of 12 All-American recognitions. She holds Ohio State’s program records in both sport pistol and two-gun aggregate. 

17. Joey Bosa, Football (2013-15)

Among all the great Ohio State football players of the past 10 years, Bosa is the only one who earned consensus first-team All-American honors twice (Billy Price was the only other two-time first-team All-American, consensus or not). He earned unanimous All-American honors in 2014, when he was also the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and helped lead the Buckeyes to a national championship.

Over his three seasons with the Buckeyes, Bosa was one of Ohio State’s most dominant defensive players ever, recording 150 total tackles, 50.5 tackles for loss and 26 sacks. He ranks fourth in Ohio State history in career sacks and fifth in career tackles for loss.

16. Emma Baranski, Synchronized Swimming (2014-17)

Considering that Ohio State won seven team national championships in synchronized swimming during the 2010s, it’s hard to single out just one as the Buckeyes’ top individual synchronized swimmer of the decade, but Baranski’s resume unquestionably stands out. 

Baranski earned All-American honors in all four of her years with the Buckeyes, won the solo national championship in each of her final two seasons and also the duet national championship in 2017, when she was named the collegiate synchronized swimming athlete of the year. She was also Ohio State’s female recipient of the 2017 Big Ten Medal of Honor, recognizing her accomplishments both in the pool and in the classroom.

15. J.T. Barrett, Football (2014-17)

As Ohio State’s primary starting quarterback for four seasons, Barrett rewrote the school record books, becoming the Buckeyes’ all-time leader in wins by a starting quarterback (38) and passing yards (9,434) and the Big Ten’s all-time leader in total offense (12,697), touchdown passes (104) and total touchdowns (147). He became the first-ever three-time Big Ten Quarterback of the Year and Ohio State’s first three-time captain and won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football as the Big Ten’s MVP in 2016.

He was injured before the defining stretch of Ohio State’s 2014 national championship run and had his share of critics due to some poor performances in later years, but he was a huge reason why the Buckeyes were in position to make that run, and he won far more than he lost. Most of his school records will likely stand for decades to come, and he was unquestionably one of Ohio State’s defining and most important athletes of the 2010s.

J.T. Barrett
J.T. Barrett rewrote Ohio State's record books during his four-year run as the Buckeyes' starting quarterback.

14. Dwayne Haskins, Football (2016-18)

Haskins was Ohio State’s starting quarterback for only one season – which might prompt some to rank Barrett and/or Miller ahead of him – but that one season was the best passing season in Ohio State football history. He rewrote the Big Ten and Ohio State single-season record books in 2018, throwing for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns – both conference records – while completing a school-record 70 percent of his passing attempts.

A finalist for the Heisman Trophy, Haskins won the Silver Football and Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors and carried the football Buckeyes to 13 wins and a Big Ten championship in a down year for both their defense and rushing offense. His nine 300-yard passing games – all in just one season – are more than any other Ohio State quarterback has had for an entire career, while he has all but one of Ohio State’s six all-time 400-yard passing games.

13. Catherine Shields, Rowing (2013-16)

Ohio State’s rowing team won three straight national titles from 2013-15 and finished second at the NCAA Championships in 2016, and Shields played a leading role in making that happen.

As a freshman, Shields was on Ohio State’s second varsity eight and won a NCAA title with that group while earning Big Ten freshman of the year honors. In each of the next three seasons, Shields was on Ohio State’s first varsity eight – which won at NCAA Championships all three years – and earned first-team All-American honors. She was the Big Ten rowing athlete of the year and Ohio State’s female athlete of the year in both 2014 and 2016 and also received the Big Ten Medal of Honor in 2016.

12. Evan Turner, Men’s Basketball (2007-10)

Only a half-season of Turner’s Ohio State career actually took place in the 2010s, but what a half-season it was. Turner won just about every national player of the year award and was a consensus All-American and the Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year for 2009-10, when he averaged 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and six assists per game and earned MVP honors while leading Ohio State to a Big Ten tournament title.

Turner, who also earned first-team All-Big Ten honors for the 2008-09 season, became the fifth Ohio State men’s basketball player to have his number retired in 2016, when he was also inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame.

Evan Turner
Evan Turner's spectacular Ohio State career was immortalized in 2016, when he had his number retired and was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame.

11. Chase Young, Football (2017-19)

Young put together what is now arguably the greatest individual season by a defensive player in Ohio State history is 2019, when he became the Buckeyes’ first-ever defensive finalist for the Heisman Trophy, won both the Bronko Nagurski and Chuck Bednarik awards as college football’s best defensive player, won the Silver Football and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year awards and was a unanimous All-American.

Young, who also earned second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2018, broke Ohio State’s single-season school record with 16.5 sacks in 2019. In three seasons with the Buckeyes and just two as a starter, Young recorded 30.5 sacks – the second-most in school history – and 41.5 total tackles for loss.

10. Ezekiel Elliott, Football (2013-15)

Elliott was never an All-American at Ohio State, but if you watched the Buckeyes’ run to the national championship in 2014, you understand why Elliott is one of the top 10 Ohio State athletes of the 2010s and the top football player on this list. The then-sophomore running back carried the Buckeyes to a national title in the final three games of 2014, running for at least 220 yards (and eight total touchdowns) in Ohio State’s decade-defining wins over Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon.

Elliott topped 1,800 rushing yards in each of his final two seasons at Ohio State, averaged 6.7 yards per carry for his career – the most among all Buckeyes with at least 200 rushing attempts – and scored 44 total touchdowns, the fourth-most in school history. He won the Sullivan Award as the United States’ top amateur athlete between the 2014 and 2015 seasons, then won Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and Silver Football honors for the 2015 season, becoming the first Ohio State running back to win those awards since Eddie George.

Ezekiel Elliott
Ezekiel Elliott's performance in the 2014 College Football Playoff solidified his standing as one of Ohio State's greatest individual athletes of the 2010s.

9. Jared Sullinger, Men’s Basketball (2010-12)

Ohio State’s men’s basketball program had its two winningest seasons of the decade in 2010-11 and 2011-12, and Sullinger was the biggest reason why. 

A consensus All-American in both of his seasons as a Buckeye, Sullinger averaged 17.3 points per game and 9.7 rebounds per game while leading Ohio State to a 34-3 record in 2010-11 – a season in which the Buckeyes earned the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament but were upset by Kentucky in the Sweet 16 – and a run to the 2012 Final Four. He’s one of only three two-time consensus All-Americans in Ohio State men’s basketball history (along with Jerry Lucas and Jim Jackson) and the only player in program history to earn national freshman of the year honors.

8. Francesca Di Lorenzo, Women’s Tennis (2016-17)

Di Lorenzo’s two seasons as a Buckeye are the two most successful individual seasons in the history of the Ohio State women’s tennis program. She won 37 singles matches in each of her two seasons – tied for the most in school history – and went 74-7 in singles matches and 55-7 in doubles matches for her Buckeye career, both of which are school records for career win percentage.

She was an All-American in singles in both of her seasons as a Buckeye and teamed with Miho Kowase to win the NCAA doubles championship – the first-ever NCAA championship in Ohio State women’s tennis history – in 2017. Di Lorenzo was also the Big Ten women’s tennis player of the year in both 2016 and 2017 and the Ohio State female athlete of the year in 2017.

7. Blaz Rola, Men’s Tennis (2011-13)

Rola became Ohio State’s first-ever NCAA singles champion in 2013, which came just one year after he teamed with Chase Buchanan to win Ohio State’s first-ever NCAA doubles championship in 2012. Rola and Buchanan also won the ITA All-American and National Indoor Intercollegiate doubles championships that year, becoming the first-ever duo to sweep all three titles in the same year.

A singles All-American and unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection in all three of his seasons at Ohio State, Rola went 110-15 in singles matches for his Buckeye career. He was Ohio State’s male athlete of the year in 2013.

6. Christina Manning, Women’s Track and Field (2009-12)

Manning is one of Ohio State’s all-time greats in track and field, holding school records in the 60-meter dash (7.23), 60-meter hurdles (7.91), 100-meter hurdles (12.68) and 4x100-meter relay (43.70). She was the NCAA champion in both the indoor and outdoor hurdles in 2012, a 10-time Big Ten champion and an 11-time All-American, and she helped lead Ohio State to Big Ten team titles in the 2011 indoor and outdoor and 2012 outdoor seasons – the first three conference championships ever for Ohio State women’s track and field.

Manning earned Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year honors both indoors and outdoors in both 2011 and 2012, and also earned Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year honors in 2012, becoming Ohio State’s only winner of that award in the past 10 years. She was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017.

5. Jantel Lavender, Women’s Basketball (2007-11)

Lavender was a dominant force in the post for four seasons with the Buckeyes, earning Big Ten player of the year honors in all four of her seasons at Ohio State, becoming the only women’s basketball player to ever accomplish that feat. She was an All-American for each of her final three seasons with the Buckeyes, for which she was also a team captain, and led the Buckeyes to three straight Big Ten tournament titles.

Lavender scored in double figures in all 136 games of her Ohio State career, setting an NCAA record. She averaged 20.7 points per game and 10.5 rebounds per game for her Ohio State career, ranking second in Big Ten history in career rebounds (1,422) and fourth in career points (2,818). She was Ohio State’s female athlete of the year in both 2009 and 2011 and was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016.

4. Kelsey Mitchell, Women’s Basketball (2015-18)

One of the greatest scorers in the history of women’s college basketball, Mitchell was a four-year superstar for the Buckeyes, becoming the program’s first-ever four-time All-American while averaging 24.5 points per game for her career. She was the Big Ten player of the year and national freshman of the year in 2015, repeated as conference player of the year in both 2017 and 2018 and was MVP of the 2018 Big Ten tournament.

Mitchell holds the NCAA record with 497 career 3-pointers made, having made at least one three in each of her final 92 games as a Buckeye, which is also an NCAA record. She ranks second in NCAA history with 3,402 career points. She was Ohio State’s female athlete of the year and a Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient in 2018.

Kelsey Mitchell
One of college basketball's most prolific scorers ever, Kelsey Mitchell was a four-time All-American for the Buckeyes.

3. Nicolas Szerszen, Men’s Volleyball (2015-18)

Szerszen is the most accomplished player in the history of Ohio State’s men’s volleyball program. He earned national player of the year awards (from different voting bodies) in each of his final three seasons at Ohio State after earning MIVA freshman of the year honors in 2015, and he led the Buckeyes to back-to-back national championships in 2016 and 2017.

Szerszen ranks second in NCAA history with 238 service aces and also holds Ohio State’s school records for kills (1,678) and total points (2,030).

2. Logan Stieber, Wrestling (2012-15)

Stieber accomplished one of the most spectacular feats in college athletics when he won four consecutive individual national titles at the NCAA Wrestling Championships, becoming just the fourth wrestler to complete the four-peat, by winning the 133-pound title in 2012 and 2013 and the 141-pound title in 2014 and 2015.

As a senior, Stieber led Ohio State wrestling to its first-ever team national championship and was the recipient of the 2015 Hodge Trophy, wrestling’s equivalent to the Heisman. He was also the 2015 Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year and Ohio State’s male athlete of the year in each of his final two years as a Buckeye.

For his four-year career as a whole, Stieber won 119 of his 122 matches wrestled for a .975 winning percentage, which ranks as the best winning percentage in Ohio State history.

Logan Stieber
A four-time individual national champion at Ohio State, Logan Stieber is one of the most dominant wrestlers in NCAA history.

1. Kyle Snyder, Wrestling (2015-18)

If this ranking was based solely upon what athletes did while wearing an Ohio State uniform, Stieber’s four national championships and school-record winning percentage would put him at the top of the list. What Snyder accomplished at the international level while he was still an Ohio State student-athlete, however, propelled him to the top spot.

Months after winning his first NCAA heavyweight championship in 2016, Snyder won the Olympic gold medal in the 97 kg freestyle class, becoming the youngest Olympic wrestling champion from the United States ever. He became the first active Ohio State student-athlete to win an Olympic gold medal since Jerry Lucas in 1960, and swept the world championship, NCAA and Olympic titles all in the same year.

Snyder returned to Ohio State after his Olympic glory to win two more NCAA heavyweight titles in 2017 and 2018, and came just one match away from winning the national title in 2015, when he helped lead the Buckeyes to the team national championship. He also continued to excel at the world level while dominating his collegiate competition, including back-to-back titles at the prestigious Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix.

Snyder won the Sullivan Award as the United States’ top amateur athlete in 2018 and became the first-ever two-time Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year and three-time Ohio State male athlete of the year. He was also a Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient in 2018.

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