Mask Off: Craig Krenzel on Life After the Gridiron

By Harry Wexner on March 8, 2018 at 4:32 pm
Craig Krenzel versus Michigan

Ohio State Dept. of Athletics


The Ohio State University prides itself on the people, the tradition and the excellence of its athletics programs. Buckeye traditions and the excellence need no introduction. But how well do we know the people? Fans know players by the awe-inspiring feats they perform. Mask Off takes a closer look at those individuals as human beings.

As a Buckeye, Craig Krenzel typified excellence as both a student and an athlete.

On the field, Krenzel was the most successful quarterback of the Tressel era. He was the signal caller during Ohio State's 2002 National Championship run, he led the first successful campaign to Ann Arbor in over a decade and ended his career with a 24-2 record as a starter.  

Krenzel was equally adept as a scholar. Fans who watched the 2002 and 2003 seasons will remember that no Ohio State broadcast was complete without mention of Krenzel's pre-med classes and impressive GPA. 

Krenzel is now a partner at Arthur Krenzel Lett Insurance Group. He is also the co-founder a custom home-building outfit, Kolb Krenzel. 

Eleven Warriors caught up with Krenzel to reminisce, catch up and discuss what the future holds. 

In his own words

What have you been up to since you graduated?

Well, I was fortunate enough to spend a few years playing in the NFL. In September 2006, I had Tommy John surgery. After rehab after that, I was done playing ball. And now, my wife and I have four kids, I live in Dublin, Ohio and I’m in the insurance business. I have my own insurance brokerage.

When you were playing, I remember that you were pre-med, right?

I was. I was a molecular biology major, and I was pre-med. But just playing a few years in the NFL, being out of school for three years, watching my brother go the medical route – my older brother, Brian, is a surgeon, an orthopedic surgeon – and just kind of watching him go through med school and everything at the time. My wife and I had been married for a little over a year and we were expecting our first child – I just didn’t feel like going back to school.

What is your best non-football memory from Ohio State?

My best non-football memory? Oh man. My best non-football memory from my time at Ohio State? That’s kind of hard because I don’t really think I have any non-football memories. It’s school and football when you go there, right! 

You know what, actually, I think one of my best memories – just kind of Ohio State and college – is – it’s kind of football related and it’s kind of not – is every year, the first day of spring practice is always on a Saturday. And we have a morning practice. It’s usually pretty light, because it’s in the spring and we’re just getting started back up. That afternoon after practice, Steve Bellisari and I kind of started a little thing where we’d go play golf. And it was kind of one of those things that – spring ball was starting, the quarter was winding down, we probably only had five or six weeks left of spring quarter, and the weather was starting to turn and we had a chance to go out there. Usually it was our first chance to golf for the year. We’d just kick back and relax.

What is your favorite football memory?

That’s a long list!

There are really three that pop into my head.

One of them is obviously the National Championship game. The ups and the downs, and the roller coaster ride that that game was. And then, being able to celebrate after all that hard work through the season. The culmination of it through the exciting nature of that game… just to be on that field, to hold that trophy, to go back to the hotel and celebrate with all my teammates, coaches and family. It was truly a night that I will never forget.

The second one – very, very close, right up there – was beating Michigan at home that season. Just getting that monkey off our back. How many times in the nineties did Michigan spoil that dream for the Buckeyes? To come away victorious that day – and to have the guys from the Fiesta Bowl leading up to the National Championship in out locker room after – was just another day that I’ll never forget.

And the last one that’s believe-it-or-not right up there is my last home game my senior year. Overtime game, beat Purdue and I actually came out of the locker room after the game and just went back and just sat in the stands for a few minutes. The stadium was basically empty. It was a 3:30 game, so the lights were on. Just kind of sat there, sat in that stadium and thought of all of the memories that I had over the last couple years when I was starting. The pride that I had, and that we had… in two years we did not lose a game in the shoe. We were 16-0, and it was a moment that I will never forget. Sitting there in the stands on the south-east side and looking up at the bell tower… and kind of had that reality of ‘huh, I’m never going to play football on that field again.’ It was kind of a bitter sweet moment.

When did you realize that National Championship team was so special? When did you realize Maurice Clarett was going to be so special? How did that feel?

When it comes to Maurice, I think in training camp when we got a chance to look at him. Physically, you could see he was a stud. But what really impressed me the most was how smart he was on the field: how well he handled the football, how quickly he grasped our offense. In the huddle, on the field, he was a great team. When it came to knowing what his assignment was, he knew it. When it came to executing his assignment – whether it was carrying the football, catching the football or pass blocking – he was just great. You started to see it during training camp. I don’t know that I expected him to be as good as he was, and, in terms of that, I became a real quick study of how good he was going to be in that season opener against Texas Tech. Just how special he was… his patience and his vision were incredible.

Do you stay in touch with [Maurice Clarett] at all?

You know, I haven’t talked to Maurice in a while. Very sporadically, I will see him at an event or something like that and try to catch up and say hello. But, it’s one of those things where there’s a lot of those guys that I don’t talk to as much as I would like to just on the sole fact that we’re all busy living our lives. I have my insurance business, I have another business – a custom home building company with another friend – and chasing four kids around, I don’t have a lot of free time.

Are there many [former teammates] you do keep in touch with?

A handful. A handful of guys that live here in town who I see from time to time, and ones that don’t who we make sure we talk as often as we can to see how everybody’s doing.

Do you stay in touch with Coach Tressel?

Not particularly. Coach Tress – if there’s something that he needs, he knows how to get a hold of me. He knows I will do anything for him that I can. And that’s reciprocal, vice-versa, if there was something that I needed, I know I can pick up the phone, call Jim Tressel, and he’d do whatever he could in his power to help me out.

But once again, with what he’s got going on up there at YSU, and my life… I struggle to make sure I talk with my parents enough! But, at the same time, the beautiful thing about being a Buckeye is: I know in my heart that there’s not one of those guys who I couldn’t call and ask a favor. Whether it’s Tress or a teammate or any of the other coaches, and I hope that they understand and know the same thing about me.

What are you most looking forward to?

I’m actually about to take my twelve-year-old son… in the near future my twelve-year-old son, Braden, and I are going to take a ski trip out West. It’s his first time out West, so I’m taking him skiing as part of his birthday present. So, literately, what am I most looking forward to? That’s it!

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