There are a lot of college football programs that come across as pipelines to NFL success, but no program of late does a better job of getting its players ready to compete and be stars right away than the Ohio State Buckeyes. Over the weekend, Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud became the sixth former Ohio State star to win Rookie of the Year honors dating back to the 2016 NFL season.
Of course, we are including Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in this. So the Buckeyes have accounted for six of the last 16 winners in both departments. On the offensive side of the ball, Stroud is joined by New York Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson. A trio of pass-rushers in Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa and Chase Young are joined by a star defensive back in Marshon Lattimore as well.
Although Young needs to prove himself after a down few years after his rookie season with Washington, he could be set up for success now that he is on the San Francisco 49ers. He gets to play alongside his fellow Buckeye teammate Nick Bosa because that is just so fair. Regardless, blue-chippers coming out of Ohio State are usually set up for immediate success as the next level of ball.
It could be seven Buckeyes had Ezekiel Elliott beaten out his former Dallas teammate, Dak Prescott.
Let's unpack what this means for Ryan Day's program in the seasons since he has taken it over.
Ohio State football alums are well equipped to be NFL Rookies of the Year
What this means to me is pretty simple. All things equal, Ohio State is the best job in the Big Ten, and arguably the best in the country, depending on how favorably you view SEC teams like Georgia and Texas. There are other elite programs in the Big Ten footprint as well, but nobody has recruited as consistently strong for as long as Ohio State. It is a national football brand that has reach everywhere.
Conversely, I think you can look at coaching in Columbus as a bit of a problem. For as much talent as the Buckeyes have had over the last decade or so, how many national championships have they won? Ohio State made the College Football Playoff several times in the four-team format, but only won one national title and only played for another. The first came in 2014, followed up by a loss during COVID.
The other big thing to consider when it comes to former Ohio State football stars having success almost immediately at the next level is that all six Rookie of the Year winners play marquee positions on their side of the ball. A quarterback, wide receiver or running back will win it on the offensive side of the ball, while a pass rusher or a defensive back certainly have a leg up on their side of the ball, too.
Quarterbacks be damned. Put money on Marvin Harrison Jr. to win NFL Rookie of the Year for 2024.