All-Time Greatest – No. 26: Mike Doss

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. 26: safety Mike Doss.

Who could ever forget the joyful, ear-to-ear smile of Mike Doss as he raised the Fiesta Bowl trophy high over his head after the national championship game in January 2003? It capped the high point in the college career of an Ohio State safety that had more than its share of high points.

Born March 24, 1981 in Canton, Ohio, Michael Allen Doss overcame other people's perception that he was too small to play strong safety by becoming one of the most devastating tacklers in recent memory.

He earned first-team All-Ohio honors as a senior at Canton McKinley High School and was a USA Today honorable mention prep All-American after helping the Bulldogs to back-to-back state titles in 1997 and '98.

When he got to Ohio State in the fall of 1999, he never missed a beat. Becoming the first true freshman to start in the secondary for Ohio State since Antoine Winfield in 1995, Doss ranked 10th on the team in tackles with 43 and earned the team's rookie defensive player of the year award.

Described by then-OSU secondary coach Jon Tenuta as "a strong safety with a linebacker's mentality," Doss was just getting started.

As a sophomore, he led the team in tackles with 94 and earned a first-team All-America honor from The Sporting News. The following year, Doss again led the Buckeyes in tackles and earned several more All-America honors.

In 2002, he saved his best for last. After deciding to return to Ohio State for his senior season, he made the most of it, racking up a personal best 107 tackles as the Buckeyes captured the national championship.

Doss played some of his most outstanding football in some of the team's most important games that season. He made 14 tackles in the 19-14 win at Wisconsin, registered nine stops (including seven solos) in the 10-6 victory at Purdue, then recorded 13 tackles (including two for loss) in the 14-9 nail-biter over Michigan.

In the Fiesta Bowl against Miami (Fla.), Doss was again spectacular. He made nine stops against the Hurricanes and earned defensive player of the game honors as the Buckeyes captured their first consensus national championship in 34 years with a 31-24 victory in double overtime.

After the '02 season, Doss was named to several more All-America teams, making him one of only seven Buckeyes in history to earn the distinction of being three-time All-Americans. The others are Chic Harley (1916-17, 1919), Wes Fesler (1928-30), Lew Hinchman (1930-32), Merle Wendt (1930-36), Archie Griffin (1973-75) and Tom Skladany (1974-76).

Doss was also a three-time All-Big Ten selection and was named the conference's defensive player of the year as a senior in 2002. Also, in each of his last two years, he was one of the leading candidates for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top collegiate defensive back.

Starting his last 40 games in a row, Doss finished his career with the Buckeyes with 331 total tackles, including 221 solos. The tackle figure, tops among defensive backs in school history, ranks him 10th all-time. He also had 33 tackles for loss (the 11th best total in OSU history), broke up 20 passes and intercepted eight others.

Following his college career, the Indianapolis Colts made him a second-round selection in the 2003 NFL draft. He immediately cracked the Colts' lineup and started the first 15 games before missing the regular-season finale with an ankle injury.

That injury also kept him out of the first round of the playoffs, but he returned to start in the AFC semifinals and championship game before undergoing offseason surgery. For his rookie season, Doss registered 101 tackles on defense and 13 more on special teams.

He played with the Colts throughout the 2006 season before signing with Minnesota in 2007. Over five NFL seasons, Doss has played in 54 games (including 43 starts) and has totaled 260 tackles, seven interceptions, nine passes defended and one sack.

Yesterday: No. 27 Pete Johnson

Tomorrow: No. 25


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