Best Ohio State football players this century 1. James Laurinaitis – Linebacker 2005-08
James Laurinaitis is the only Ohio State player of this era to make the All-American team three times. His incredible consistency at the top of the mountain despite everyone knowing how good he was is why he sees himself at the top of this list. During his time with Ohio State, the Buckeyes won the Big Ten title all four seasons.
Laurinaitis is the son of WWE wrestler Road Warrior Hawk, which might be how he got his mean streak. He could get from one side of the field to the other with serious quickness, and he did it to make tackles. He broke 110 tackles in his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons. In fact, in his senior season, he had 130 tackles.
It wasn’t just All-Americans that show how decorated Laurinaitis is. He is the only player in history to win the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award twice from both the coaches and the media.
Of course, this era started the absolute dominance of Michigan. Laurinaitis never lost against Michigan, and he played well in every game. In his senior season, he had 12 tackles against the Wolverines, a sack, and a tackle for loss. It was impossible to stop that game, which was much like most of his performances throughout his Ohio State career. Laurinaitis was untouchable as the Buckeyes were looking to transition styles of defense. Laurinaitis was able to change with them with his brute strength and athleticism. There was nobody like him in this era.