There have been plenty of important Ohio State Buckeyes in the last decade, and we have named some of the most popular and talented for the LGHL 2000s All-Decade Team. Stars like Santonio Holmes and Michael Jenkins, Beanie Wells and Troy Smith. These are the big names that have donned the Scarlet and Gray and played integral roles in all the important Buckeye games of the last decade.
But just the same, as the tailbacks and quarterbacks got all the love, one must look at the bug uglies who blocked for Wells and protected Smith. The stalwarts who get little love for their big efforts. Because for as important as those long touchdown runs and passes were, the boys in the trenches that did the blocking are due their own standing ovation on our All-Decade Team.
Today, we're going to look at the best interior offensive linemen - two guards and a center specifically - that the Buckeyes put on the field in the 2000s. These choices weren't the easiest, but when you take a second to look back at the players and their achievements, they are more than worthy of being listed with the other greats.
Offensive Guards - Rob Sims (2002-2005) and Adrien Clarke (2000-2003)
There were a few offensive guards who stood out in the last decade, but we at LGHL decided on Sims and Clarke as our first team all decade, and rightfully so. This pair both have rings from the 2002 Championship team, and both had plenty of starts on the Buckeye offensive line. Both took their celebrated careers to the NFL draft, where both were selected.
Rob Sims gets on the list for many reasons, but the one that really stands out is how he transitioned from the tackle position, where he started 11 games in 2004, over the the guard position in 2005. After that difficult transition, all Sims did was allow no sacks and get named to the All-Big Ten team during that season. That season led him to a fourth round pick in 2006 by the Seattle Seahawks, a trade to the Detroit Lions in 2010, and an NFL career that has seen Sims start 82 of 93 games played.
Adrien Clarke was a four-year letter winner at Ohio State and started at guard for the 2002 national championship team. He came to Ohio State as one of the most highly touted offensive linemen for the 2000 class, but had to fight to get his playing time on the offensive line. But that fight paid off, as Clarke would go on to start 43 games in his Buckeye career. His efforts led to some ratings services marking him as the fifth best offensive line prospect in the 2004 NFL draft, where he was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the seventh round.
Center - LeCharles Bentley (1998-2001)
Ohio State has been very lucky to have a handful of great centers in the last decade, but Bentley is the standout here, and rightfully so. The Cleveland St. Ignatius product began his career under John Cooper, but had his most productive year at center in Jim Tressel's first year at Ohio State. As another four-year letter winner in Columbus, Bentley saved his best performance in scarlet and gray for his final season in those colors, racking up many honors, including a spot on the first team All-Big Ten, being named a consensus All American and took home the Rimington Trophy, given to the best center in the country.
Bentley parlayed his senior year into a second round pick (44th overall) in the 2002 NFL draft, where he was selected by the New Orleans Saints. Bentley started 53 games in the NFL, twice going to the Pro Bowl (2002 and 2005) before ultimately being plagued by injuries. He retired from the game in 2009 after sitting out 2008.
Honorable Mention - Nick Mangold (2002-2005)
Bentley's successor at center was Nick Mangold, who started for three years (and 11 games of his true freshman season after Alex Stepanovich went down with a knee injury). Mangold wasn't as decorated as Bentley, but was as consistent; he wasn't as talented as Bentley, parlayed a great college career into a fantastic opportunity in the NFL. Picked in the first round of the 2006 draft, Mangold has started all 110 games he's played for the New York Jets, four times going to the Pro Bowl, and three times being named to the NFL All-Pro team. Then again, if you had to make a career making Mark Sanchez look passable as a quarterback, you would have to be pretty good at your job, too.
So did we get it right? Did we name the correct interior linemen of the 2000s? Let us know in the comments, and give us your choices, too.