Ohio State's Football U: Offensive Line

Ohio State football boasts some of the best players in the sport's history at multiple positions. We've given the Buckeyes the deserving moniker of Football U and move on with our breakdown of the best positions in program history today with the offensive line.

This week we are running through the various majors of study that makeup Ohio State’s Football U. Schools around the country lay claim to various position groups, adopting the monikers of Linebacker U or Running Back U, but Ohio State possesses such a rich depth of talent in its years of football excellence that it makes more sense for the Buckeyes to be dubbed Football U.

With President Woody Hayes and Provost Urban Meyer leading the university, we take a look at each different college of study. We got things started with The College of Running Back Monday and The College of Wide Receiver on Tuesday. Today, we move on to another of Ohio State's most respected disciplines, The College of Offensive Line.

Program Overview
Are you a talented student with great size who wants to make the most of his talents? Then the College of Offensive Line at Ohio State is for you. Currently led by one of the preeminent scholars in the field, Ed Warinner, Ohio State's College of Offensive Line boasts a decorated history of alums -- including more than 50 All-America nods, nine College Football Hall of Famers, 16 first-round draft picks and three major college football award winners. And if you want to finish in the top four of the Heisman voting, well, this is the place for that, too, as OSU boasts the only linemen to do so since 1973. Working hand-in-hand with The College Of Running Back, the College of OL is one of the trademark disciplines at Ohio State offering elite programs at center, guard and tackle.

Dean: Orlando Pace
Pace's curriculum vitae reads shows a man at the top of his discipline no matter how you slice it. A starter as a tackle from the second he arrived at Ohio State as a true freshman, Pace was a consensus All-American in 1995 and '96 when he didn't allow a sack. Pace won the Lombardi Award and Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year awards both of those years as well, and he was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and Outland Trophy winner in '96, the year he finished fourth in the Heisman voting. He was then the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 1997 draft, leading to an NFL career during which he won Super Bowl XXXIV, was a five-time All-Pro and a seven-time Pro Bowl honoree.

On top of all that, Pace was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013, the ultimate honor for anyone in the sport. It was a fitting cap to a career in which he was the first true freshman to start the first game of the season on the offensive line at Ohio State. Pace will also be rememered as the man behind the pancake block -- in which the opposition is pancaked to the ground during the play.

“I don’t know how you could play the position any better than he did,” head coach John Cooper said.

Tenured Faculty
John Hicks: In many ways, Hicks was Pace before Pace; in fact, he finished second in the Heisman voting in 1973, helping power an offense featuring Cornelius Greene, Archie Griffin, Pete Johnson, Bruce Elia, Champ Henson and Brian Baschnagel to a 10-0-1 record. Hicks also won the Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy that season and was chosen the Sporting News Player of the Year before being the third overall pick in the NFL draft after the season. A College Football and Rose Bowl Hall of Famer, Hicks twice earned All-America and All-Big Ten honors at tackle.

Jim Parker: The Toledo Scott product lettered from 1954-56 at guard on the way to a College Football Hall of Fame career. Parker stood nearly 250 pounds, making him unnaturally large for his time, and also boasted the athleticism to excel. Parker started on Woody Hayes' first national championship team in 1954 then earned All-America and All-Big Ten honors a year later. In 1956, Parker won the Outland Trophy and placed eighth in the Heisman vote. After finishing his career, he was a first-round draft pick and went on to be an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and 10-time All-Pro in the NFL before being named to the NFL's 50th and 75th anniversary teams.

Bill Willis: Also an emeritus choice like Parker, the late Willis was a pioneer in the sport. One of the first African-Americans to play in the NFL, Willis starred with the Cleveland Browns as a defensive lineman but also played along the offensive line at Ohio State. He helped clear the way for Les Horvath's Heisman season in 1942 and was also on the undefeated Buckeye squad in 1944. Boasting a sprinter's speed despite his 6-2 size, Willis was a devastating lead blocker who was named a first-team All-American as a senior. He went on to be named an All-Pro in each of his eight NFL season and was a 1971 choice for the College Football Hall of Fame.

LeCharles Bentley: The 2001 winner of the Rimington Trophy that goes to the best center in the nation, Bentley was a four-year letterman from Cleveland who ended his career with a bang. Serving as the anchor of the line in Jim Tressel's first season, Bentley was a first-team All-Big Ten and All-America choice while also being named the best player at his position in the nation. He went on to earn two Pro Bowl nods in the NFL before his career came to an unfortunate close because of injury shortly after he joined the Browns. Still, his teaching credentials cannot be ignored, as Bentley operates an offensive line academy in suburban Cleveland.

Adjunct Professors
Korey Stringer: Many thought Stringer was just as good as Pace, as he boasted nearly the same size and physical skill as the OSU legend. The Warren, Ohio, native suited up for the Buckeyes through 1994 and finished his career as a consensus first-team All-American while playing across from pace on the Buckeye offensive line. He went on to a Pro Bowl career in the NFL that was cut short in 2001 because of his untimely death of heat stroke. Still, Stringer will always be remembered as one of the top Ohio State offensive linemen of all time.

Jim Lachey: What better communicator could a student learn from than Lachey, who has served as the radio analyst on Ohio State broadcasts for almost two decades. Lachey has plenty of bona fides, too, having earned All-America honors during his senior season of 1984 before moving on to an NFL career in which he was one of the "Hogs," the offensive line crew that led the Washington Redskins to a win in Super Bowl XXVI. Lachey earned three All-Pro and three Pro Bowl honors in his career and is always available for advice for students.

Nick Mangold: Plenty of Ohio State players have received honors for their work as Buckeyes, but Mangold gets on the list because of his professional experience. A successor to Bentley given his abilities in the middle of the line -- he was nominated for the Rimington during his final season at OSU -- Mangold was a three-year starter at Ohio State before being a first-round draft pick of the New York Jets. Since joining the NFL, Mangold has shown how Ohio State prepares you for the real world, making six Pro Bowls and twice being named an All-Pro

Other Distinguished Alums
Ohio State has five other offensive line alums in College Football's Hall of Fame in guard Aurealius Thomas, center Gomer Jones, guard Gust Zarnas, tackle Jim Daniell and tackle Warren Amling. All played for Ohio State before 1960 and show just how far back the Buckeyes' offensive line tradition goes.

Current Students
Taylor Decker: A late addition to Urban Meyer's first recruiting class in 2012, Decker became a starter at right tackle in 2013 alongside seniors Jack Mewhort, Andrew Norwell, Corey Linsley and Marcus Hall and held his own. The head of the "slobs" a season ago, Decker moved to left tackle and served as the anchor for a line that matured into one of the nation's best by the end of the season. Thought to be an All-America candidate this season, Decker could be a first-round pick next season to continue OSU's NFl tradition.

Patrick Elflein: Also rated by Scout as a top-50 NFL draft pick heading into next season, Elflein can play both center and guard. A starting guard a season ago who first got his feet wet late in the 2013 season after Hall's ejection at Michigan, Elflein has worked himself from a three-star prospect with potential into another decorated student.

Buckeye Sports Top Stories