Senior Day is a special time for senior football players. Each one will be playing their last game in the Horseshoe and will be introduced to the crowd and met by their parents. Each year before Senior Day, I like to take a look back at the seniors and offer up some thoughts on their careers at OSU.
|Chris Conwell - It's been a short OSU career for walk-on Chris Conwell (left, Evan Mercer pic) as he transferred to OSU from Youngstown State, but it has been a positive one as he has been able to contribute from his cornerback spot and provide valuable depth.|
|Mike Doss - It's been a great OSU career for Mike Doss. Coming out of a state champion Canton McKinley squad, Doss (left, Allsport/Getty Images pic) was a top 100 player nationally who committed to OSU early and made his presence felt early by becoming one of the first members of a highly-touted recruiting class to contribute right away. Needless to say, he's seen a lot of success since then.
Big #2 will be remembered for many things. Perhaps the one thing he'll be remembered for most is his emotional press conference where he announced his decision to stay at Ohio State for his senior year. No one can forget that; many thought he would be gone, but he announced his return through his tears. But one other little thing that sticks out in my mind about Doss is my favorite hit that he made -- the one on San Diego State RB Larry Ned in 2001. Ned was a big guy, and SDSU was playing tough in the Horseshoe when no one expected them to. Ned took a handoff, and suddenly Doss burst through the line and knocked that guy (who was bigger than he was) backwards, and from there, the game seemed to belong to the Buckeyes.
#2 certainly has a future on the next level as he will be a draft pick in the upcoming NFL draft, and right now, all the decisions he's made are paying off. Congratulations to Mike on a great career -- and since I bought a #2 jersey, please hand it off to someone cool... :-)
|Cie Grant - The pride of New Philadelphia made his presence felt as a Buckeye. He came to OSU as an athlete who would likely be a defensive back, but he has played all over the field on defense since he arrived. Of course, last season, he was forced to move to cornerback, and he played admirably for someone who played his first year at a position that wasn't natural for him. This year, he's more at home as a linebacker, and the speedy Grant (Allsport/Getty Images pic) has become a crucial player on defense.
My favorite Grant play has to be the one against Texas Tech this year when he just bowled over a hopeless running back (can't remember off the top of my head who it was... Taurean Henderson maybe?) to get to Kliff Kingsbury. I mean, this running back had no chance. Boom! The RB went down, and then the QB followed. Cie will definitely get a chance at the next level; you just don't see too many guys as big as that who can run like he does.
|Andy Groom - Andy Groom will likely remain a fan favorite for years to come. It's rare to see a player like Groom who hangs around as a walk-on for a few years and then all of a sudden emerges to become one of the best in America at his position. Groom (left, Evan Mercer pic) is a Columbus native who could have selected to go somewhere that offered him a scholarship, but he knew he could compete at OSU. He had to walk-on to do it, and it turned out he proved himself to be right.
One of the most ridiculous things to happen this year was when Andy did not make the cut for the Ray Guy Award candidate list. Groom's value has been huge to this team, and he will be missed next year. The Ray Guy Award folks might not have their eyes on him, but the NFL folks do. Andy Groom's OSU career is proof that good things come to those who wait.
|Scott Kuhnhein - Scott came to OSU from right across the border in Ft. Thomas, KY as a highly-touted recruit from Highlands High. Over time, he hasn't been able to become a starter, but he has contributed as a back-up and on special teams. We've also heard in the past that Scott is a guy who is very well-liked on this team. He's worked hard and has hung in there and is a Buckeye through and through.|
|Donnie Nickey - When Donnie Nickey committed to play football at Ohio State, a lot of people asked, "Who?" He was a standout at Jonathan Alder High School in Plain City, Ohio and seemed to be set to go to Ohio University when the Buckeyes extended an offer. Nickey (left, Evan Mercer pic) accepted, and even though he's heard some criticism over the years, he's been a four-year starter at safety and will be starting his 47th game tomorrow. Not bad, huh?
This solid leader in the secondary has been here through thick and thin as he arrived in 1998 on a team that was on top and has come full circle to this year's team. He's made sacks, interceptions, and blocked punts, but I think my favorite play was the unexpected fake field goal this year against Indiana where he ran for a first down. He'll get a chance to catch on with a team at the next level.
|Kenny Peterson - Things were difficult at first for Kenny Peterson... here was a guy who came in rated as one of the top 50 overall prospects in America and was a star on a national title-winning high school team at Canton McKinley, but he was redshirted his freshman year and didn't see much playing time at defensive end early in his career. Kenny (left, Allsport/Getty Images) hung in there though, and even though he may have not been jumping at first at the chance to move to defensive tackle, the move has brought him success on the field as he has become a starter in his senior season. Peterson has certainly saved the best for last, and with his quickness and speed for the position, he could get a good look by a team on the next level.|
|Michael Stafford - Who can forget the story of Mike Stafford? Like Andy Groom, he showed that with hard work and perseverance, rewards will happen despite the odds. The odds weren't much slimmer for this player to make an impact either. It's hard enough for a walk-on to stick around on a major college team like Ohio State, but Stafford (left, Evan Mercer pic) was a player who didn't even start in high school. The Upper Arlington product came to OSU anyway, and he hung in there and was rewarded with a scholarship by his junior season. That, however, was only the beginning.
Stafford once listed his favorite sports memory as being hit by a cab when the Buckeyes went to the Sugar Bowl. The guess here is all of that changed in August of 2002 as Stafford found himself as a starter at guard for OSU and made an impact as he helped Maurice Clarett to big days on the ground. Stafford was also rewarded with a one-game captaincy early in the season. Mike has fought with injury the second half of the year, but he seems to be ready to go now and will try to write a great ending to an already fantastic story.
|David Thompson - David came to OSU out of Paterson, New Jersey in 1998 as a talented defensive tackle recruit, but after academic issues, he fell out of the spotlight for a while. Then, in 2001, he re-emerged after some had written him off. His practices and games proved he could be a valuable part of the defensive tackle rotation. David (left, Allsport/Getty Images) has proven his value this year as he has filled in very well when called upon, especially in the Illinois game just six days ago in which he had three sacks. Who knows... maybe a performance like that was enough to catch someone's eye on the next level...|
|Jack Tucker - Jack came to Columbus from Cerritos Junior College in California as someone who was expected to provide an immediate boost to the linebackers, but he suffered a fractured clavicle his first year and was redshirted. Jack (left, Evan Mercer pic) wasn't able to get much time at linebacker, but he was moved to fullback this year and has gotten on the field a bit there. Jack has also been a contributor on special teams.|
|Jeremy Uhlenhake - A walk-on kicker out of Celina, Ohio, Jeremy (left, Allsport/Getty Images pic) has a definite Buckeye name and got a chance to see the field this season as he saw the field in one game.
|Chris Vance - Ft. Myers, Florida's Chris Vance had an interesting start to his days at OSU. Unlike other recruits in the 2000 recruiting class, Chris had already signed and had started taking classes at OSU when John Cooper was fired, so there was no chance to rethink his decision. From there, his career has been a roller coaster as he has had great games and great plays but has also had to deal with too much tragedy.
Vance (Allsport/Getty Images pic left) will be remembered for his unreal catches during his junior season that helped him live up to his nickname of Spider Man since those footballs just seemed to stick to his hands, but the most memorable moment came against Minnesota in 2002 when he scored a touchdown and pointed to the heavens for his brother, who tragically died before the game. Vance had always liked the Buckeyes before coming to OSU, and his time at OSU will definitely be remembered. Here's hoping Vance gets a chance at the next level.
|Matt Wilhelm - The thing that will stick out to me is how big this guy really is. I didn't expect him to be that big, but he towers over more miniscule people like me. His career at OSU was even bigger. He was one of several players to commit to OSU after a spring game, and I remember that he wasn't too well-known at the time, but over the months to come, you started to hear people say "The Buckeyes got themselves a good one here."
That turned out to be true. Wilhelm (Allsport/Getty Images pic) will be a hard player to replace. He played very well at MLB and made many big plays, and he also seemed to have a real presence on the field. Having him in the middle has been big for this defense, and he will be missed.
If you are in attendance tomorrow, stand up and cheer for all the seniors. They have put in tons of very hard work year-round and deserve to be recognized in their final home game. A big thank you goes out to all of them!