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Ohio State's case as college football's Defensive Back U

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Which school produces the best defensive backs? It might be Ohio State.

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Defensive Back University (DBU) has been claimed by several different schools over the years. LSU (alumni include Patrick Peterson and Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu) and Florida (alumni include Joe Haden and Janoris Jenkins) have each claimed they are the real DBU by creating YouTube videos, which is actually pretty lame. I prefer to imagine that all of the ex-LSU and ex-Florida defensive backs got together one cold morning and settled this debate on the field in a similar fashion as Nike's sweet "Snow Day" commercial.

Another school that has staked their claim to being DBU over the years is the Hokies of Virginia Tech. Unfortunately, this claim would never hold up in court after this (warning: video contains graphic content) annihilation was caught on video this past September.

Plenty of other schools have their case pertaining to why they are in fact the real DBU, like Ohio State. This isn't a groundbreaking assertion that Ohio State could be college football's DBU, but I wanted to put a little twist on the usual process of simply listing 3-4 great Ohio State defensive backs and calling it a day. Instead, let's pretend for a second that DBU is a real university, and they have chosen Ohio State as their player pool. Unbelievably, this player pool consists of all Ohio State defensive backs from 2002-present (sorry Ahmed Plummer). Also, the defensive back must have already completed their time at Ohio State (sorry Vonn Bell).

So who would make up the official Ohio State DBU two deep depth chart? I will most heavily weigh the defensive back's accomplishments at Ohio State, but will also keep in mind the defensive back's team's accomplishments and any type of NFL success the defensive back may have had. Defensive statistics are provided when available thanks to College Football Reference, and all awards were gathered from BuckeyeFansOnly.com.

First Team

Corner: Chris Gamble.

Years played: 2001-2003. Career Stats: 7 interceptions, 2 touchdowns, 38 receptions. Honors: Ohio State Co-Team MVP (2002), First Team All-Big Ten (2002, 2003).

Why he's a starter: Gamble made big plays on defense (as evidenced by his seven interceptions in two years), special teams (5th most punt return yards in the Big Ten in 2002), and offense (including a 57 yard catch in the national championship which helped set up a crucial field goal). As the first two-way Ohio State starter since Paul Warfield in 1963, Gamble helped make a conservative offense occasionally explosive, and made a great defense even better. Maybe his biggest accomplishment at Ohio State was his role in shutting down one of the premier college wide receivers of the last 20 years. In Ohio State's 2002 national championship win everyone remembers Willis McGahee and Kellen Winslow Jr. from the Hurricane offense. You know who you don't remember? Andre Johnson. His pedestrian four catches for 54 yards and zero touchdowns was mostly thanks to Gamble.

NFL Career: Chris Gamble served a very productive nine years in the NFL as the Carolina Panthers number one corner. Drafted in the first round at pick 28, Gamble intercepted 27 passes over the course of his career, good enough to place him number one on the Panthers' all-time interceptions leader-board.

Best Moment as a Buckeye: Down 7-3 at the start of the third quarter, Gamble picked off an errant Penn State pass on 3rd and 12 and proceeded to weave through an overwhelmed Nittany Lions offense all the way to the Promised Land. This was Ohio State's only touchdown on the day, and it came in Gamble's first game as a two-way starter. Remember: this was back in the day when Penn State was perennially a very good football team, and more importantly when Penn State had one of the coolest running backs of the 2000s, Larry Johnson.

Safety: Malcolm Jenkins

Years: 2005-2008. Career Stats: 11 interceptions, 124 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 4 forces fumbles, 2 touchdowns. Honors: First Team All-American (2007, 2008), Jim Thorpe Award (2008), Team Captain (2008), First Team All-Big Ten (2006, 2007, 2008).

Why he's a starter: Jenkins played mostly corner at Ohio State, but due to him being a safety in the NFL (and a good one at that), we're going to move him to center field in the free safety slot on this make believe team. In addition to (according to Wikipedia) being a frat star at Omega Psi Phi, Jenkins had obviously great statistics, and served as James Laurinaitis' Robin on an exceptional Ohio State defense.

NFL Career: You can still watch Jenkins patrolling the secondary as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. Jenkins was drafted in the 1st round at pick number 14 by the New Orleans Saints, and spent five years there before moving on to Phili. With 10 career interceptions and forced fumbles, as well as cools stats like this to his name, Jenkins has certainly enjoyed a successful NFL career.

Best Moment as a Buckeye: While I could easily link another Penn State pick six, Jenkins actually got away with dropping the ball inches short of the goal line on that play, and this is a sin that DBU will simply not tolerate. Instead, take a look at Jenkins just being an overall badass on his way to going 4-0 against that team up north. Seriously, Jenkins did this directly in front of a ref who I am assuming didn't throw a flag purely so he wouldn't suffer the same fate.

Safety: Mike Doss

Years: 2000-2002. Career Stats: 8 interceptions, 4 defensive touchdowns. Honors: First Team All-American (2000, 2001, 2002), Team Captain (2002) First Team All-Big Ten (2000, 2001, 2002), 2002 National Championship MVP.

Why he's a starter: One of the most beloved Buckeyes of the millennial era, Doss has one of the biggest set of balls in Buckeye history, as his preseason proclamation that he returned to school to win a national championship came true in the sweetest of ways. Slightly undersized at 5'10" 207 pounds, Doss is the strong safety here at Ohio State DBU, but (like Ohio State's current pair of safeties) Doss has the ability to seamlessly transition between strong and free safety.

NFL Career: Mike Doss had a good, not great, six season NFL career. Consistently battling injuries, Doss never started all 16 games in a season, but still produced when he was on the field to the tune of 7 interceptions, 6 forced fumbles, and 261 tackles. Not a bad career for the Colts' 2nd round pick.

Best Moment as a Buckeye: Down 7-0 past the midway point of the 2nd quarter, the Buckeyes needed some type of spark to get a sputtering offense going. After a harassed Ken Dorsey forced a ball to Andre Johnson, the pass deflected off of Johnson's hands into the waiting arms of Doss. Doss, unlike another All-American safety in this game (RIP), didn't fumble the ball on his return, and proceeded to gain another crucial 35 yards after intercepting the pass.

Corner: Doran Grant

Years: 2011-2014. Career Stats: 9 interceptions, 1 touchdown, 146 tackles, 29 passes defended. Honors: Team Captain (2014), First Team All-Big Ten (2014).

Why he's a starter: There should not be much to argue with about the first three members of the Ohio State DBU secondary (save for any of you not accepting Jenkins as a safety). That changes now. Look, I will explain later why Bradley Roby and others didn't crack the starting secondary, but let us not forget how important Grant was to a national championship winning secondary that had been underwhelming (read: shitty) the previous two seasons. Mekale McKay? One catch for 11 yards, 0 TD. Tony Lippett? Five catches for 64 yards, 0 TD. Amari freaking Cooper? Nine catches for 71 yards, 2 TD (one on Eli Apple).

NFL Career: After being drafted in the 5th round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Grant has unfortunately since been demoted to practice squad duties. The verdict is still out on if Grant can become an effective NFL corner.

Best Moment as a Buckeye: While Grant containing Cooper (with the help of constant safety help over the top) in Ohio State's Sugar Bowl win over Alabama was probably Grant's finest game as a Buckeye, his lack of any massive impact plays in that game means we have to go back one game to the Big Ten Championship. While Ohio State's victory was never really in doubt in their 59-0 win over Wisconsin, Ohio State was undoubtedly also concerned with making a statement for the playoff committee. 59-14 just doesn't roll off the tongue the same way 59-0 does, and we have Doran Grant and his two second half interceptions to thank for that. His first is below in which he makes a great break on the ball, and proceeds to have an interception return longer than any run Melvin Gordon could put together all day long.

Second Team

Corner: Ashton Youboty

Years: 2004-2005. Stats: 5 interceptions, 1 touchdown. Honors: First Team All-Big Ten (2005).

Why he's a backup: As the number one corner on two top 20 Ohio State teams, Youboty earns himself a backup slot mostly due to his physicality as a corner. In 2004 he finished fifth on the Buckeyes in tackles, and fourth in 2005. Here at DBU he would be the fourth corner, an obvious treasure considering he was responsible for holding Jeff Samardzija (remember when he played football!?) to under 60 yards and zero touchdowns in Ohio State's win over Notre Dame in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl.

Safety: Will Allen

Years: 2001-2003. Stats: 5 interceptions, 1 touchdown. Honors: First Team All-American (2003), First Team All-Big Ten (2003).

Why he's a backup: It hurts to not make Allen a starter. It hurts because of one specific play that sent Ohio State to a place no one thought was possible. If you miss that play and miss Will Allen, don't worry, because the 13 year veteran still makes a living patrolling the Steelers secondary

Safety: Kurt Coleman

Years: 2006-2009. Stats: 17 (!!!) interceptions, 5 force fumbles, 219 total tackles, 1 touchdown. Honors: First Team All-American (2009), Team MVP (2009), Team Caption (2009), First Team All-Big Ten (2009)

Why he's a backup: If there was a difference between DBU and SU (Safety U), Ohio State would have a very strong argument for the latter thanks to guys like Kurt. An enforcer for four years at Ohio State, fans got used to seeing #4 make both big hits and big plays. A productive career in the NFL (6 years) most notably with the Eagles, Coleman would be a starter for most DBU safety tandems ...just not one with five first team All-American seasons between two safeties.

Corner: Bradley Roby

Years: 2011-2013. Stats: 8 interceptions, 2 touchdowns, 178 total tackles. Honors: First Team All-American (2012), First Team All-Big Ten (2012-2013)

Why he's a backup: Jared Abbrederis. That's why. When the Buckeyes play Wisconsin you know two things are going to happen. One: the Badgers are going to try to run the football from the get go. Two: When they don't run the football, they will throw to their #1 (usually white) wide receiver. Unfortunately, Roby never got this memo, and boy did he pay for it. After totaling 9 receptions for 153 yards and two touchdowns in his first two games against the Buckeyes, Abbredaris faced off for one last time against Roby in 2013. Ohio State won, but so did Abbrederis to the tune of 10 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown. Roby is more than welcome to be Ohio State's DBU Nickelback (until Darron Lee graduates that is) and had more than his fair share of great Buckeyes moments, but the number one corner on the two most miserable Buckeyes pass defenses anyone has seen in years isn't going to cut the first team here at Ohio State DBU.

Honorable Mention

I could have named this section "the bench" but I am not here to insult the slightly worse defensive backs at DBU who all still enjoyed plenty of success at Ohio State.

Donald Washington

A 4th round pick courtesy of the Kansas City Chiefs, Washington was a productive corner for Ohio State from 2006-2008, but upon being suspended in 2008 for violating team rules failed to regain his full time starting corner spot.

Donte Whitner

One of the best NFL Ohio State defensive backs, Whitner was the 8th overall selection back in 2006 by the Buffalo Bills, and continues his career today with the Cleveland Browns. Whitner deserves to be loved by everyone for allowing this jersey to temporarily exist, but Ohio State's abundance of riches at safety knocks Whitner out of the two deep.

Dustin Fox

Say what you want about Fox on 97.1, the dude was a four year starter and key player in Ohio State's 2002 national championship run. Unfortunately I couldn't find evidence of this, but if my memory serves me correctly, upon returning from a broken arm injury as a Buckeye, Fox wore the exact same padding on both arms in order to disguise which one had been broken. I'm pretty sure that's what injury reports were made to show, but good for you Dustin.

Chimdi Chekwa

An up and down career for up and down Ohio State teams (this was the lovely era where Ohio State just couldn't buy a big win...freaking USC), Chekwa burst into the starting lineup as a sophomore after fellow honorable mention corner Donald Washington was suspended and never looked back.

Disagree? Did I (gasp) somehow forget someone? Let me hear it in the comments. Or just watch this on a loop. Either one works.