All-Time Greatest – No. 22: Korey Stringer

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. 22: offensive tackle Korey Stringer.

For three years during the mid-1990s, no college football team had a better offensive line than Ohio State and one of the primary reasons was Korey Stringer.

Born May 8, 1974, in Warren, Ohio, Korey Damont Stringer was regarded as one of the top offensive line prospects in the nation following his 1991 senior season at Warren G. Harding High School. He received first-team prep All-America honors from nearly every publication that gives out that type of award and was also Ohio's Lineman of the Year in Division I.

He earned all-state honors as a junior and senior, and helped Harding to a perfect 14-0 record and the state championship as a junior. He also played defensive tackle for Raiders and totaled 52 tackles as a senior.

When he got to Ohio State, he only continued to get better. Displaying an agility that belied his 6-5, 315-pound frame, Stringer cracked the starting lineup for the Buckeyes six times during his freshman season, filling in when regular starting tackles Alan Kline and Jason Winrow missed time with injuries.

Stringer later missed a game in midseason with an ankle injury, a condition that hampered him for the remainder of the season and limited his playing time. Still, he saw action in 11 of the team's 12 games during the '92 campaign and earned second-team All-Big Ten honors. In addition, league coaches selected him their conference freshman of the year.

The following season, the Buckeyes finished with their best record in 14 years, going 10-1-1 that culminated in a thrilling 28-21 victory over BYU in the Holiday Bowl. With Stringer leading the way, tailback Raymont Harris had his finest season as a Buckeye, rushing for 235 yards and three scores in the bowl game and 1,344 yards and 12 TDs for the season.

As a result, OSU finished in the top 10 of the final season polls for the first time in seven years and Stringer earned first-team All-America honors from Kodak, Walter Camp and Scripps-Howard. He was also a second-team choice by the Associated Press and received honorable mention from United Press International.

As a junior, Stringer was a candidate for the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award and put together another outstanding season. Teaming up with freshman sensation Orlando Pace, who manned the other tackle spot, the Buckeyes became an offensive machine, churning out 336 total points in 1994 and topping the 30-point mark four times.

Eddie George laid the foundation for his 1995 Heisman Trophy season by rushing for 1,442 yards and 12 touchdowns in '94, while quarterback Bobby Hoying took advantage of the up-front protection to throw for 2,235 yards, the second-highest single-season mark in OSU history at the time.

At the end of the season, topped off by the Buckeyes' first victory over Michigan in Ohio Stadium in a decade, Stringer missed out on the Lombardi Award, losing to Miami (Fla.) defensive tackle Warren Sapp, and the Outland Trophy, which was won by offensive tackle Zach Weigert of Nebraska. Nevertheless, he was a consensus first-team All-American.

Stringer opted to skip his senior season at Ohio State and was selected in the first round of the 1995 NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings. He played six seasons for the Vikings, during which they made the playoffs five times including the NFC championship game twice. Stringer also earned one trip to the Pro Bowl during that time.

He was preparing for his seventh pro season in 2001 when he collapsed at Vikings training camp on July 31, 2001. Fifteen hours later, he was dead, succumbing from the effects of heat stroke. He was only 27.

Stringer became only the second NFL training camp fatality – the first was J.V. Cain, a tight end for the St. Louis Cardinals, who died of a heart attack on July 22, 1979, his 28th birthday. Chuck Hughes, a wide receiver for the Detroit Lions, died of a heart attack Oct. 24, 1972, during a game in Detroit against the Chicago Bears.

Since his death, the NFL and college football have taken steps to counsel their coaches and players on the dangers of heat stroke. Additionally, the Korey Stringer Memorial Charity Classic golf tournament is held annually in the Warren, Ohio, area with donations going to a variety of local organizations in which Stringer had interest.

Stringer was inducted into the Ohio State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003. His widow, Kelci, and their son, Kodie, were on hand to accept his Hall of Fame plaque at halftime of the North Carolina State game and were treated to a thunderous ovation from the 104,890 fans in Ohio Stadium.

Stringer joined an illustrious class of inductees that year which included Tom Matte and Cris Carter, who was a teammate of Stringer with the Vikings.

Yesterday: No. 23 Tom Cousineau

Tomorrow: No. 21


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