Here Are The Top DBs In Ohio State History
The sports departments at 10TV and ONN went through a list of names and voted on the top ten defensive backs in Ohio State history.
Using a system that awarded 10 points for a first place votes, nine points for second and so on, our list was determined.
The criterion was only what the defensive backs did while at Ohio State and their professional careers had no bearing.
Chris Gamble became an all-Big Ten cornerback and first round NFL draft pick despite only dabbling on defense until mid-way through his sophomore season. The Buckeye, by way of Florida, had seven career interceptions and 65 tackles.
Canton's Tim Fox was All-American and All-Big Ten in 1975. The three-year starter played both safety and cornerback for the Buckeyes, and also returned punts. Fans were head over heels for Fox's speed.
1964 All-American Arnie Chonko had seven picks that season, and 11 for his career, which was second-most at the time. The Parma native also shares the school mark for thefts in a game with three.
Safety Donte Whitner was an All-American in 2005. He made 164 career tackles, with 117 of them solo. The Cleveland Glenville product had five career picks, as well as five sacks.
Ray Griffin upheld the family name by earning All-American honors in 1977. He was best remembered for an interception that set up the go-ahead touchdown in a come-from-behind win in Ann Arbor in 1975.
William White had three interceptions in a game against West Virginia in 1987, tying the school's single-game mark. All-Big Ten as a senior, the pride of Lima Senior high school ended up with 16 career interceptions, third all-time.
Perhaps the greatest defensive back of all-time was 1955 Heisman winner. Howard Cassidy. Number four on our running backs list, Hop was an outstanding two-way player, and it was said that a pass was never completed on him in his four years.
10. Fred Bruney (Watch Video)
The name Fred Bruney won't register with even some of the most die-hard Buckeye fans. But if you look the record books, his name is all over the place.
From Martin's Ferry, Bruney was all over the field as a two-way star. His 17 career interceptions still ranks as the second highest number in school history, and was the number one mark for 18 years.
He also holds a share of the single-game interception mark, with three thefts against Illinois in 1951, and Bruney hit the trifecta again the following season in a win over Michigan.
As a senior in 1952, he was named All-Big Ten. He scored six touchdowns on offense, while his seven picks that season-the same number he had the year before-is tied for fifth among single-season Buckeyes.
9. Damon Moore (Watch Video)
Whether it's run support or playing center-field, Damon Moore was the complete safety from 1995 to 1998.
As a red-shirt freshman, Moore appeared in 12 games, making 30 tackles and intercepting the first two passes of his career.
He moved into the starting line-up in 1996, and on a defense with names like Greg Bellisari, Andy Katzenmoyer, Mike Vrabel and Shawn Springs, it was the Fostoria native who led the team in stops with 89. He was the first non-linebacker to lead OSU in that category in 26 years. Against Wisconsin that year, he set a school record for tackles in a game by a defense back with 19.
In the Iowa game, Moore tied a school mark by intercepting three passes, part of his total of five that season. This one against Indiana was returned for a touchdown, helping OSU clinch its first trip to the Rose Bowl in 12 years. He had two pick sixes in his career, tied for the most in Ohio State history.
In Pasadena against Arizona State, Moore was the top tackler with 12 stops in the Buckeye victory.
As a junior, Moore was in on 67 tackles including five for loss, and picked off three more passes. He was recognized as All-Big Ten.
He added All-American honors as a senior in 1998. His 81 tackles and 62 solos were again tops on the team. He intercepted two more passes in helping the Bucks reach an 11-1 record and finish second in the country for the second time in three years.
A bit undersized at 5 foot 11, 200 pounds, Moore didn't shy away from the physical contact. His 191 career solo tackles are eighth all-time at OSU, and second among defensive backs. He totaled 267 tackles--17 for loss--and 12 interceptions in his career.
8. Ted Provost (Watch Video)
Ted Provost earned the nickname "tree" from Woody Hayes not because of his 6 foot, 3 inch stature, but because of all of the Buckeye leaves sprouting from his helmet.
A three-year starter from 1967-69, Provost was a member of the greatest defensive backfield in school history. Along with Tim Anderson, Mike Sensibaugh and Jack Tatum, all four would earn All-American honors during their careers.
From his left halfback position, Provost intercepted 16 career passes, which is tied for third most by a Buckeye. Three of those came in the same game-against Northwestern in 1967, tying a school record that has happened nine times.
All-Big Ten his junior and senior seasons, the Navarre native helped the Buckeyes to an 18-1 record in those two years, including the 1968 National Championship.
7. Cornelius "Neal" Colzie (Watch Video)
Cornelius "Neal" Colzie had a nose for the ball, and was one of the fastest players ever to suit up for Ohio State and a pioneer in personal expression.
As a junior in 1973, Colzie returned two interceptions for touchdowns, still the only Buckeye to ever do that in the same season. The two scores are tied on the school's career list.
Then in 1974, Neal picked off eight passes, which at the time was tied for second most in school history and still ranks in a third-place tie.
Career-wise, Colzie's total interception number is 15, good for fifth place on that list.
He was also a talented punt return specialist, taking back two kicks for touchdowns in his career, matching the school record at the time. His 855 career punt return yards were also best among Buckeyes, and remain fourth. 669 of those came in 1973, which is still the most in a single season at Ohio State. 170 of those came against Michigan State, which has survived the test of time as the single-game mark.
Colzie was All-American in 1974, and all-Big Ten as a junior and a senior. He was taken in the first round by the Oakland Raiders in 1975. Colzie died from a heart attack at the age of 47 in his native Miami back in 2001.
6. Mike Sensibaugh (Watch Video)
Ohio State's all-time leader in larceny is Mike Sensibaugh. The safety from Cincinnati pirated 22 passes in his three year career, five better than any other Buckeye.
One of the Super Sophomores that helped OSU win a national title in 1968, Sensibaugh wound up with five interceptions that year.
As a junior, he set a new single-season mark that was later matched with nine interceptions, helping him land All-Big Ten honors.
He followed that up with eight interceptions in 1970, which today is still tied for the third most in school history. Repeating as All-Big Ten, Sensibaugh added All-American to his resume as a senior.
A fine all-around athlete that also handled the punting duties, Sensibaugh's 238 interception return yards is also the most by any Buckeye defender.
5. Malcolm Jenkins (Watch Video)
As a 17-year old, Malcolm Jenkins worked his way into the secondary rotation as a nickel back during his freshman season in 2005, even starting three games.
It would be the beginning of one the greatest careers in Ohio State history. Jenkins began a streak of 39 consecutive starts as a sophomore in 2006. That year, he made 55 stops to go along with four interceptions, including a 61-yard return for a score against Penn State.
His junior year brought another four interceptions and another pick six at the Nittany Lions expense. His two career touchdowns off interceptions matched an Ohio State mark.
The pride of Piscataway, N.J., Jenkins was named All-Big Ten for the second straight season, and also claimed All-American honors. Playing some safety in certain situations, Jenkins made 44 tackles, including five for loss.
In 2008, Jenkins became the second Buckeye to win the Thorpe Award, which is presented to the top defensive back in college football. The two-time All-American picked off three passes as a senior, and made a career-high 57 tackles. He also was a vital contributor on special teams, blocking two punts. One against Purdue was returned for a touchdown, while another against Illinois went out of the end zone for a safety.
His only sack in college came at a perfect time as well. Against Michigan State, Jenkins hit forced a fumble that was scooped up by a teammate and taken back for a touchdown.
When his Buckeye days were done, Jenkins had made 11 career interceptions, and 196 career tackles. He broke up 28 passes, and had 13 and a half tackles for loss.
A co-captain his senior year, Jenkins was selected 14th overall by New Orleans in the 2009 NFL Draft.
4. Antoine Winfield (Watch Video)
Akron's Antoine Winfield is proof that good things do come in small packages. Arriving on campus in 1995, he was generously listed at 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighing 178 pounds.
Winfield saw the field right away as a true freshman, playing in all 13 games back in 1995, even starting the Purdue game. While he had no interceptions, Winfield made an astonishing 56 tackles-45 of them solo-including five for loss.
Stuck behind Shawn Springs again in 1996, Winfield this time made four starts in place of an injured Ty Howard. Number 11 made 47 tackles and corralled his first career pick against Wisconsin.
Antoine cracked the starting line-up in 1997, and never looked back. All-Big Ten and All-American as a junior, Winfield led the Buckeyes in tackles from his cornerback position with 100, 82 of which were solo. To put that in perspective, teammate Andy Katzenmoyer won the Butkus Award as the best linebacker in college football that year. Those 82 solo stops still rank fifth all-time for a single season, and the most ever by a defensive back. Additionally, he had eight tackles for loss-including three sacks-and broke up 12 passes to go with his two interceptions.
With teams avoiding Winfield his senior year, he didn't intercept any passes. But he still prevented 15 passes from being completed and made 65 tackles, five of which were for loss. He repeated as All-Big Ten and All-American, and became the first player from Ohio State to win the Thorpe Award as college football's finest defensive back.
One of the surest tacklers ever among Buckeyes, Winfield wound up with 278 career tackles, 224 of which were made all by himself. All that from a cornerback listed at well under six feet. Not afraid of larger ball-carriers, Winfield stopped the run in the same manner in which he shut down wide receivers. He totaled 22 tackles for loss in his four seasons.
A co-captain his senior year, Winfield was chosen 23rd overall by Buffalo in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft. He earned his first pro bowl appearance in 2008 with the Minnesota Vikings.
3. Shawn Springs (Watch Video)
Cornerback Shawn Springs was one tough son of aBuckeye. While his father, Ron, starred in the offensive backfield in the 1970's, Shawn was one of the best defensive backs the Bucks have ever seen.
Following his redshirt season in 1993, Springs earned a starting spot the next year, and made a career-best 61 tackles, along with an interception.
In 1995, Shawn really began to develop. He picked off five passes, returning one for a touchdown against Iowa. As a sophomore, Springs made 52 stops, 40 of which were of the solo variety. He was chosen as one of the best 11 defenders in the Big Ten conference, and contributed on special teams as well, returning punts and kicks. Against Boston College in the season opener, he took a kick back 97 yards for a touchdown.
Springs didn't get any interceptions in 1996 for a good reason, teams simply looked away from the side of the field he was covering. That explained the dip in tackles, 39 as a junior. With 15 passes broken up, he still earned All-Big Ten, Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and All-American honors in helping Ohio State reach the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1984.
For his career, Springs had six interceptions and 24 passes broken up. He made 152 tackles as well.
After bypassing his senior year for the NFL, Seattle made the Washington D.C. native the third overall pick in the 1997 NFL draft.
2. Michael Doss (Watch Video)
Through his junior season, Mike Doss had already had a highly successful career in Columbus. Twice the Buckeyes leading tackle, twice named All-American and All-Big Ten, clearly the NFL was calling.
Doss wasn't sure what decision he would make until he stepped up to the podium. What he was sure of was his intent to win a national title, which is why he chose to return for his senior season. A two-time state champion in high school at Canton McKinley, Doss delivered, leading Ohio State to its first national title in 34 years.
As a senior, Doss finished second on the team with a career-best 107 tackles. He intercepted two passes; one returned 45 yards for a score against Kent State, and a 35-yard return of a pick in the national championship game against Miami that set up the first OSU score. He would go on to be named the Defensive MVP of the Fiesta Bowl.
The safety was named the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year as well as all-Big Ten and All-American for a third straight campaign. He became just the seventh player in OSU history to earn All-American honors three times.
As a junior in 2001, Doss was tops on the team with 87 stops, ten of which were for loss. He intercepted three passes that year, two of them coming in the win over Michigan, the first in Ann Arbor in 14 years. Doss also led the Big Ten in fumble recoveries, and returned one for a 30-yard touchdown against Northwestern.
His play in the kicking game was special, as well, blocking a punt against UCLA that was
recovered for a touchdown, and then blocking another one the following week against Indiana.
In 2000, Doss became the starter at strong safety, and led the Buckeyes in tackles with 94. He also intercepted three passes, and returned two fumbles for touchdowns, including a 73-yard score against Michigan State.
As a true freshman in 1999, Doss saw action in all 12 games, starting the final two contests.
Doss' dossier lists 50 games played, with 40 career starts. A hard-hitting ball-hawk, his 331 career tackles is 11th most by any Buckeye, and tops among defensive backs. His 228 solo stops are primary among the secondary, and fifth on the career list regardless of position. His 33 tackles for loss are also the benchmark in the defensive backfield, and tied for 11th most all-time. Doss also finished with eight career interceptions.
1. Jack Tatum (Watch Video)
Jack Tatum came to Ohio State as a running back, and even played the position as a freshman for the Buckeyes. When he was eligible for the varsity, however, the defensive coaches won an intense battle for his services, and a legend was born.
In 1968, Tatum was one of many sophomores that propelled Ohio State to an undefeated season, and undisputed national championship. It was Jack's performance in the upset win over top-ranked Purdue that first caught people's attention. He was assigned to the Boilermakers Heisman Trophy candidate that afternoon, and, keying on Leroy Keyes, Tatum helped limit him to just 19 yards rushing in a 13-0 shocker.
Playing in a talented backfield along-side Ted Provost, Mike Sensibaugh and Tim Anderson, that OSU secondary was one of the best in college football history. Their position coach spent just one season under Woody Hayes, but went to have a plenty good career of his own on the sidelines. You might remember Lou Holtz as the coach of Notre Dame's 1988 national championship team.
Born in North Carolina, but raised in New Jersey, Tatum's reputation as a fierce hitter was cemented in college. In his very first game as a Buckeye, he knocked SMU's tight end and running back out of the game. When Jim Tressel took over as head coach in 2001, he instituted a new weekly team award, handing out the "Jack Tatum Hit of the Week."
Built like a safety and fast enough to play cornerback, Tatum was also versatile enough to play linebacker at times for the Buckeyes.
Already All-Big Ten as a sophomore, Tatum repeated that honor and added All-American to his resume in 1969. He would be the same again in 1970, as well as the national Defensive Player of the Year. Tatum even finished seventh in the voting for the Heisman Trophy.
From 1968 to 1970, Ohio State went 27-2 with two national and Big Ten titles, and Tatum's presence on defense was a large part of that success.
He would be selected 19th overall in the 1971 NFL draft by the Oakland Raiders and enjoyed a remarkable NFL career as well, winning a Super Bowl and appearing in three Pro Bowls. Tatum was elected into the college football Hall of Fame in 2004.
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