Four Kings: Nick Mangold, Jim Lachey, Jim Parker and LeCharles Bentley Selected As Ohio State’s Greatest Interior Offensive Linemen of All-Time

By Dan Hope and Matt Gutridge on July 1, 2023 at 8:35 am
Nick Mangold, Jim Lachey, Jim Parker and LeCharles Bentley
Photos via Ohio State Dept. of Athletics

Who are Ohio State’s four greatest players of all-time at each position? We’re asking Eleven Warriors readers to help us decide.

In the third installment of our Four Kings series, we’re taking a look at Ohio State’s best interior offensive linemen ever.

There wasn’t much drama in the voting process this time, as four players emerged as the consensus choices to make up Ohio State’s “Mount Rushmore” of centers and guards: Nick Mangold, Jim Lachey, Jim Parker and LeCharles Bentley.

There were other Buckeye centers and guards who had their own valid case to be one of the Four Kings, as we’ll explain in the honorable mentions section and with Eleven Warriors’ Dan Hope and Matt Gutridge each sharing their own picks. But we’ll start by taking a closer look at the four Buckeyes, in order of how many votes they received, who were officially selected by our readers as four of Ohio State’s greatest offensive linemen ever.

Nick Mangold (2002-05)

A 33-game starter for the Buckeyes, Mangold took over the starting center job when Alex Stepanovich – the starting center for the 2002 national championship team – went down with an injury in the second game of the 2003 season. Mangold never relinquished the starting job from there, establishing himself as a dominant pivot in the middle of Ohio State’s offensive line for the next three years.

A first-team All-American in 2005, Mangold became the first Ohio State center ever to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft in 2006. He went on to make seven Pro Bowls in 11 seasons with the New York Jets, earning him induction into the Jets’ Ring of Honor in 2022.

The leading vote-getter by more than 50 votes, Mangold was selected on just under 88% of our reader ballots.

Jim Lachey (1981-84)

Lachey didn’t become a full-time starter at Ohio State until his senior year at Ohio State, but that one season was enough for Lachey to cement his standing as an all-time great. A consensus first-team All-American at left guard, Lachey led the way up front for Keith Byars to break school records with 1,764 rushing yards and 2,441 all-purpose yards.

Like Mangold, Lachey went on to play in the NFL for 11 seasons, moving outside to tackle and earning first-team All-Pro honors in three straight seasons in Washington.

While Lachey might be best known to younger Ohio State fans as the current color commentator for radio broadcasts of Ohio State games on 97.1 The Fan, the legacy he built as a player on the field also stands strong among Buckeye fans nearly 40 years later.

Jim Parker (1954-56)

When taking into account both college and NFL performance, there’s a case to be made that Parker had the best football career of any Buckeye ever.

His Ohio State career alone was reason enough for Parker to be a legend in Columbus. After helping lead the Buckeyes to a national championship in 1954, Parker earned All-American honors in both his junior and senior seasons and became Ohio State’s first-ever winner of the Outland Trophy in 1956. Once described by Woody Hayes as “the greatest offensive lineman I ever coached,” Parker was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1974.

Parker then went on to his own 11-year career with the Baltimore Colts, earning first-team All-Pro honors in all of his first nine seasons. As a result, Parker became the first-ever Buckeye to be inducted into both the College and Pro Football Hall of Fames, and he remains one of just three Buckeyes (Orlando Pace and Bill Willis) to hold that distinction.

LeCharles Bentley (1998-01)

Bentley became Ohio State’s first winner of the Rimington Trophy when he won the award as college football’s best center in 2001, a season in which he was also named the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year and a consensus All-American.

The Cleveland native was also a second-team All-Big Ten honoree in his first season as Ohio State’s starting center in 2000 after starting games at both guard and tackle in 1999.

A second-round draft pick in 2002, Bentley went on to make two Pro Bowls in four seasons with the New Orleans Saints. His NFL career came to an early end, however, when he suffered a severe knee injury in training camp after signing with his hometown Cleveland Browns in 2006.

Honorable Mentions

Top 10 C/Gs by Votes
Center/Guard Percentage of Ballots
JIM LACHEY 73.6% (270 VOTES)
JIM PARKER 71.4% (262 VOTES)
Note: All percentages were multiplied by four
from their vote totals since each voter was able
to vote for up to four centers/guards.

The fifth- and sixth-place finishers in our voting, Pat Elflein and Billy Price were also both Rimington Trophy winners, winning the award in back-to-back seasons (2016 and 2017). The starting guards on Ohio State’s 2014 national championship team, Elflein and Price were both iron men on Ohio State’s offensive line, as Elflein started 41 games from 2013-16 while Price started a school-record 55 games from 2014-17.

Tom DeLeone and Jeff Uhlenhake, who were both first-team All-American centers and team MVPs in their senior seasons, finished seventh and eighth in the balloting. Wyatt Davis, who earned All-American honors in both of his two seasons as Ohio State’s starting right guard, received the ninth-most votes.

Warren Amling, a two-time All-American in 1945 and 1946 who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1984 and was also a starter for the Ohio State men’s basketball team that made the Final Four in 1946, rounded out the top 10.

Dan’s Picks

Jim Parker, LeCharles Bentley, Nick Mangold and Warren Amling

Parker has a strong case for being the best guard in football history, so he was an easy first choice. Bentley and Mangold were the most dominant Ohio State centers since I’ve been alive, so I picked them off of the eye test.

I couldn’t leave Amling off of my ballot after reading his résumé, which makes him not only one of Ohio State’s greatest offensive linemen ever but one of the best-ever Buckeye athletes in general.

Matt’s Picks

Warren Amling, Jim Parker, LeCharles Bentley and Billy Price

If we were basing this series on names, fun facts, and hair, Gomer Jones, Jeff Uhlenhake and Nick Mangold would be on my list. Jones for his name, Uhlenhake for his name and being in this cinematic masterpiece and Mangold for his hair and drinking of beer.

Instead, I’ll go with Jim Parker, Warren Amling, LeCharles Bentley and Billy Price. Parker was a three-year starter and Ohio State’s first Outland Trophy winner who paved the way for 1955 Heisman winner, Hopalong Cassady. He also finished eighth in the voting for the 1956 Heisman Trophy.

Amling was a two-time All-American and All-Big Ten honoree who finished seventh for the Heisman. Bentley was Ohio State’s first Rimington Trophy winner and was the Big Ten’s Offensive Lineman of the Year. Price holds the program record with 55 consecutive starts, is the only guard or center in Ohio State history to be a two-time captain and was named the Big Ten’s Offensive Lineman of the Year. He also won the Rimington Trophy.

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