We're counting down the days to kickoff with “99 Warriors,” the greatest Ohio State Buckeyes by jersey number, as voted by the staff of Eleven Warriors.
No. 33 James Laurinaitis
A native of Minnesota, Laurinaitis played sparingly as a freshman behind the likes of A.J. Hawk, Bobby Carpenter and Anthony Schlegel. He was thrown into the fire in the final regular season game of his freshman season against Michigan after Carpenter was injured, and from that point on, he was a mainstay on the Buckeye defense.
LB James Laurinaitis
b. Dec. 3, 1986 (Wayzata, Minn.)
- First Team All-American (2006-08)
- First Team All-Big Ten (2006-08)
- Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year (2007-08)
- Team Captain (2007-08)
- Nagurski Trophy (2006)
- Butkus Award (2007)
- Lott Impact Trophy (2008)
During his first season as a starter, Laurinaitis helped lead Ohio State's defense to an undefeated regular season, tallying a team-high 115 tackles as the Buckeyes went on to lose the BCS title game to Florida, 41-14.
The next season, Laurinaitis was just as successful individually as his sophomore campaign. As a junior, he helped lead the Buckeyes back to the BCS Championship Game, recording 121 total stops on his way to being named the Butkus Award winner. Unfortunately for Laurinaitis and the Buckeyes, Ohio State once again fell in the title game, this time to LSU.
His senior season saw Laurinaitis set a career-high in tackles for a season, as he made 130 in 2008 as Ohio State finished with a 10-3 record, eventually falling to Texas in the Fiesta Bowl. He was named the Lott Impact Trophy winner for his efforts before being drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams.
Laurinaitis spent seven of his eight NFL seasons with the Rams and left the team in 2015 as the franchise's all-time leading tackler after being released. He played his final season with the New Orleans Saints in 2016 before announcing his retirement in April 2017.
The former Buckeye star currently works as a co-host of the Bishop and Laurinaitis show on 97.1 The Fan in Columbus.