Best Buckeyes by State: Michigan

Our series naming the top Ohio State recruits from out of state since 1985 begins with the Buckeyes' neighbor to the north.

With a couple of weeks left until the unofficial start of the 2014 college football season with the annual Big Ten football media days in Chicago, we thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the best who have worn the Scarlet and Gray over the past three decades.

We figure it is a natural outgrowth of our recent stories on the recruiting trends at Ohio State and throughout the Big Ten that have been running throughout the year, and we need your help as well. We'll give you the top players from the states Ohio State has recruited the heaviest over the past 30 years and let you pick the best. Then we'll turn our attention back to the Buckeye State and run things down by region.

Sound good? OK, we're starting today with a place near but not exactly dear to many Ohioans: Michigan.

While the parade of talented Ohio high schoolers who have found success in going to Michigan is well-known to anyone who follows the programs, Ohio State has had its fair share of players head across the border going south, too.

Eighteen Michiganders have gotten Ohio State scholarships in the past 30 years, beginning with Randall Brown in 1990 and continuing through Damon Webb last year.

Here are the top six for you to choose from:

Randall Brown

A linebacker from Detroit Cooley, Brown was the last player to join the 1990 recruiting class signed by head coach John Cooper. He eventually moved to defensive end and started 16 games for the Buckeyes while winning three letters. He tallied 101 tackles, including 19.5 for a loss, and recovered five fumbles. He also had 8.5 sacks in scarlet and gray but was on the winning side of only one Ohio State-Michigan game (1994).

Ryan Miller

After starring at running back and linebacker for Allen Park High, Miller signed with Ohio State in 1992. He was a four-year letter letterwinner and a two-year starter at linebacker for the Buckeyes. One of the original Silver Bullets as a senior in 1996, Miller finished his career with 211 tackles, including 20 for loss. He had four interceptions and started 24 of his 50 games. His teams went only 1-3-1 against Michigan, but Miller had three tackles in the Buckeyes' 20-17 win over Arizona State in the 1997 Rose Bowl. He later worked in TV in Columbus and currently is part of the Columbus-based media/marketing company m2marketing. He is also a co-founder of The Second and 7 Foundation with fellow former Buckeyes Mike Vrabel and Luke Fickell.

Craig Krenzel

A Utica native, Krenzel was a two-year starter and in 2002 became the first quarterback to lead Ohio State to a national championship in more than 30 years. Although preseason speculation included the starting job going to highly touted freshman Justin Zwick, Krenzel started all 14 games and threw for 2,110 yards with 12 touchdown passes during his junior season of 2002. He also beat Michigan for the second time in his career that year then went on to be named the offensive MVP of the Fiesta Bowl victory over No. 1 Miami (Fla.) as the Buckeyes upset the heavily-favored Hurricanes 31-24 in double overtime. Krenzel only threw for 122 yards but was the game's leading rusher with 81 yards and two touchdowns. He was also offensive MVP of the Fiesta Bowl a year later when he threw four touchdown passes in a victory over Kansas State. Krenzel finished his career 24-3 as a starter, including a 2-1 mark against Michigan. His first career start was a 26-20 upset of the Wolverines back in his home state in 2001.

Vernon Gholston

A somewhat unheralded recruit from Detroit Cass Tech, Gholston was a two-year starter at defensive end for the Buckeyes (years). He was the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2007 when he had 15.5 tackles for loss and an Ohio State single-season record 14 sacks. He also tied the Ohio State single-game record with four sacks against Wisconsin that season. Gholston was named first-team All-America and All-Big Ten in 2007 before declaring for the NFL draft with a year of eligibility remaining. Impressive pre-draft workouts saw him shoot up draft boards, and the New York Jets eventually chose him with the No. 6 pick. He never lived up to the hype in the NFL, though, logging 24 tackles and no sacks in 45 career regular season games. Although his NFL flameout hurt his overall image with some football fans, Gholston remains one of the most impactful defenders in school history with 22.5 career sacks (fifth in Ohio State history) and 30.5 TFLs.

Reid Fragel

A 2009 four-star recruit from Grosse Point South, Fragel picked Ohio State over offers from Michigan State, Cincinnati and Maryland. He was a four-year letterwinner as a tight end and an offensive lineman. Fragel caught nine passes for 121 yards and a touchdown in 2010 and five passes for 64 yards in 2011 before volunteering to move to the line for Urban Meyer's first season as Ohio State head coach. Fragel ended up winning the starting right tackle job and earning Meyer's praise for his development throughout the year. After being recognized as an All-Big Ten honorable mention, Fragel was chosen in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He is currently on the Cleveland Browns roster.

Johnathan Hankins

Longtime defensive line coach Jim Heacock spoke on 2010 National Signing Day about the 6-3, 315-pound Hankins giving Ohio State a huge presence inside for the first time in many years, but Hankins did more than that. He defied expectations by becoming a contributor as a true freshman for a team that went 12-1 and won the Sugar Bowl then was a two-year starter as a versatile big man who could play inside or out. Hankins had 67 tackles, including 11 for loss and three sacks, in 2011 and added another 55 stops (4.0 TFLs, 2 sacks) as a junior in 2012 before declaring for the NFL draft. "Big Hank" was a first-team All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten pick in 2012 and had 16 tackles last season for the New York Giants, who picked him in the second round of the 2013 draft.


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