The implication was clear – Orlando Pace, the big Buckeye left tackle whose ability almost made a mockery of the word dominating – should be voted the best player in the nation.
Though Pace fell just shy of that laurel, finishing fourth in 1996, his impact on the college football scene was almost immeasurable, a fact recognized Tuesday afternoon when Pace was chosen to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame by the National Football Foundation.
Pace started all three seasons at OSU, joining the starting lineup as a true freshman on his first day of preseason camp in 1994 and never looking back.
The Sandusky, Ohio, native had a decorated Buckeye career, winning the Lombardi Award in both 1995 and '96 to become the first two-time winner and capturing the Outland Trophy in 1996. A consensus All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten choice in both '95 and '96, he was also the UPI Lineman of the Year his final campaign while being named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and winning the Chicago Tribune Silver Football.
Along the way, the term "pancake" was introduced into the football lexicon, a term popularized by the 6-6, 330-pound Pace given his propensity for driving – or pancaking – opposing defensive players to the ground.
He then went on to be chosen first overall by the St. Louis Rams in the 1997 NFL draft, winning a Super Bowl ring and making seven Pro Bowls in 12 seasons.
He is the 24th former OSU player to be selected – following running back Eddie George a season ago – and the 30th person to be inducted who either played for or coached the Buckeyes. He is the first Ohio State offensive lineman to be chosen since John Hicks.
Pace will be recognized on campus this fall at a football game before being inducted on Dec. 10 at the NFF Awards Dinner and enshrined in 2014.
Stay tuned to BuckeyeSports.com for more.