All-Time Greatest – No. 38: Shawn Springs

BuckeyeSports.com counts down the days until Ohio State's 2008 season opener with its list of the 50 greatest Buckeyes of all-time. The series continues today with No. 38: defensive back Shawn Springs.

Torn between wanted to follow in his father's footsteps at running back or make a name for himself in the defensive secondary, Shawn Springs chose one of the most difficult positions on the football field and excelled at it.

Born March 11, 1975, in Williamsburg, Va., Springs is the son of running back Ron Springs, who played for Ohio State from 1976-78 and then went on to a successful pro career with the Dallas Cowboys from 1979-84.

When Shawn was growing up in Silver Springs, Md., he excelled at both running back and cornerback at Silverbrook High School, scoring 14 touchdowns on offense as a senior and knocking down 29 passes on defense.

When it came time to decide upon a college, the prep All-American wavered for awhile in the winter of 1993 before deciding to follow his father and become a Buckeye.

During his first season, he wondered if he'd made a mistake. Tim Walton and Marlon Kerner were firmly entrenched at the cornerback spots during the '93 season and Springs wound up never seeing the field as the Buckeyes finished 10-1-1 that included a 28-0 loss to Michigan, but a 28-21 win over BYU in the Holiday Bowl.

The following spring, with Walton having graduated, Springs seized his chance. Playing the boundary corner position, he had an excellent rookie season, finishing with 61 total tackles. He also dazzled opponents with his pass coverage skills, breaking up seven passes and grabbing his first career interception.

After earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors and a spot on the Football News Freshman All-America team, Springs had established himself as a blend of speed (4.4 in the 40), power (bench press of 350 pounds), agility (38-inch vertical leap) and intelligence (Academic All-Big Ten honors in 1994).

During the following season, Springs moved over to the field corner side of the field and continued to play well. In 12 games as a sophomore, he totaled 52 tackles (40 of which were solo stops) to go along with a career-high five interceptions.

As a junior, his statistics went down – most because opposing teams would not throw in his direction. But despite the fact he had only 39 tackles and no interceptions, the Big Ten coaches named him their defensive player of the year for 1996.

In his final game – the 1997 Rose Bowl – he locked up on Arizona State star receiver Keith Poole and limited him to just one catch for 10 yards. Springs finished the game with five tackles and four pass deflections as the Buckeyes came from behind to take a 20-17 victory, their first victory in the Rose Bowl since 1974.

After his junior season, Springs decided to forego his final year of college eligibility and the Seattle Seahawks selected him in the first round of the 1997 NFL draft with the third overall pick. He spent seven seasons with the Seahawks, playing in 93 games and totaling 399 tackles to go along with 20 interceptions.

Following the 2003 season, Springs signed a free-agent contract with Washington and hasn't missed a beat. In four seasons with the Redskins, he has started 52 of the 55 games in which he has played, and registered 214 tackles to go along with 11 interceptions.

Springs' 31 career picks rank him in a tie for 14th place among active NFL players.

Yesterday: No. 39 Jim Houston

Tomorrow: No. 37


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