Making imaginary super teams composed of the best players from different teams is one of my favorite things to do. I once spent three hours (not alone) putting together the world's best three deep basketball lineup in a single game playoff against the Monstars from Space Jam. This was hard, but nothing compared to the struggle I've experienced this week trying to piece together Ohio State's own Wide Receiver University.
This is not a new concept. Out of the past Ohio State Wide Receiver University articles, this one from Scout.com was the best in my opinion. The majority of these types of articles seem to simply lay out a list of baller wide receivers, give a few stats, and then move onto the next team. Allow me to spice things up a little bit in the world of exhilarating, subjective, off-season articles.
I am attempting to distinguish the two deep wide receiver crew for the Ohio State Buckeyes since 2001. Immediate apologies go out to Cris Carter, Terry Glenn and David Boston among others, but I like to keep things as current as possible, so we're just going to look at the Tressel and Meyer years (I've officially given up on mentioning the Fickell year). The first and second team each have four wide receivers on them, and I have made my choices on a wide variety of factors not limited to: Ohio State success, personal accolades, NFL success, talent, and time spent at OSU. With that, let's see what's happening at Ohio State Wide Receiver U.
First Team: Michael Jenkins
Years Played: 2001-2003, Stats: 157 receptions, 2,754 receiving yards, 16 touchdowns, last Ohio State wide receiver to have a 1,000 yard season, Honors: 2003 Team Captain, 2003 Team MVP, 2002 National Champion
Why he's a starter: Fourth-and-14 and Holy Buckeye would probably suffice here, but what we really have is a 6'4 beast who gave the 2002 national champion Buckeyes the outside threat they needed to (somewhat) consistently move the ball. Jenkins posted three of the best seasons seen from an Ohio State wide receiver in the last 15 years, and did so as the de facto number one on all three teams. The Team MVP nod on a loaded 2003 Ohio State team which released 14 draft picks into the following draft seals the deal for No. 12.
Best Moment as a Buckeye: HOLY BUCKEYE! Take it away Brent:
First Team: Santonio Holmes
Years Played: 2003-2005, Stats: 140 receptions, 2,295 receiving yards, 26 total touchdowns, 220 receiving yards against Marshall is second all-time at Ohio State, Honors: 2005 First Team All-Big Ten
Why he's a starter: The most accomplished NFL Ohio State wide receiver on this list (although Teddy Ginn is starting to give Holmes a run for his money), Holmes was good not great as an underutilized weapon in 2003 and 2004 before exploding on the scene as part of Ohio State's 2005 Fiesta Bowl winning squad. Undersized at 5'11, Holmes combined great athleticism and speed with sticky hands that allowed him to not only thrive at Ohio State, but also in the Super Bowl (warning: commentator NSFW in the link, but oh my is he hilarious). Most importantly, Holmes was arguably the greatest Wolverine killer we've seen at the wide receiver position. With 17 receptions, 243 receiving yards, and four touchdowns in three games (two wins) against Michigan, Holmes was unguardable when it mattered most.
Best Moment as a Buckeye: I'm still feeling pretty great about Ohio State whooping Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, so let's go back to a different Fiesta Bowl that Notre Dame got embarrassed in (although Holmes was about .3 seconds away from being the laughingstock on this play):
First Team: Ted Ginn Jr.
Years Played: 2004-2006, Stats: 135 receptions, 1,943 receiving yards, 4,068 career yards (including rushing and returns), 26 total touchdowns, Honors: 2006 First Team All-American Punt Returner, 2006 First Team All-Big Ten Wide Receiver
Why he's a starter: Arguably the most electric deep threat the Buckeyes have ever known (with apologies to Devin Smith), watching Ginn with the ball anywhere on the field was all it took to change Tresselball from a power run scheme to a spread. Ginn's returning chops put him in a league of his own (literally, Ginn is the all-time Big Ten punt return touchdown leader), but Ginn also consistently made big plays from the receiver position and needed to be accounted for by the defense on every single play. A 3-0 record against Michigan and the only play worth remembering from that one not-so-great national championship game involving Urban Meyer pad Ginn's resume.
Best Moment as a Buckeye: Almost put Ginn's punt return touchdown against Michigan here, but this is Wide Receiver U, so let's instead look at an example of Ginn turning absolutely nothing into the most electrifying 18 seconds of 2004:
First Team: Evan Spencer
Years Played: 2011-2014, Stats: 52 receptions, 579 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns, 250 pancakes (approximation), Honors: 2014 Team Captain, 2014 Team MVP, 2014 National Champion
Why he's a starter: Alabama. When you're the best player on the field making three of the most crucial plays of the entire national championship winning season against the (second) most hated team in all of Columbus, I'm going to look past a supposed lack of production and get that player on the field. I say supposed lack of production, because we saw plenty of instances demonstrating Spencer's skills in receiving, but the numbers simply aren't there. Call it recency bias, call it a #HotTake, I want the Team MVP of a national champion and the guy who isn't afraid to take any linebacker's head off, on the field.
Best Moment as a Buckeye: Why pick just one play when you can pick four? Maybe the best: special teams play, non-catch, block, and throw you will ever see. One after another, all against the big bad SEC. Roll Spencer:
Now onto our (still amazing) second team of wide receivers.
Second Team: Devin Smith
Years Played: 2011-2014, Stats: 121 receptions, 2,503 receiving yards, 30 touchdowns, Ohio State 22-0 when Smith caught a touchdown, Honors: 2014 National Champion
Why he's a backup: It's easy to get lost in a Devin Smith highlight film. One long touchdown after another that repeatedly demonstrates his uncanny body control and ability to come up with contested catches, Smith was invaluable to the Urban Meyer Ohio State teams who at times struggled throwing the football. But at Wide Receiver U, Ted Ginn is the starting deep threat already, and Smith was mostly one dimensional, and this is what keeps Smith out of the starting lineup.
Second Team: Anthony Gonzalez
Years Played: 2004-2006, Stats: 87 receptions, 1,286 receiving yards, 13 touchdowns, Honors: 2006 First Team All-Big Ten
Why he's a backup: While Gonzalez made arguably the most clutch catch we've ever seen against Michigan, Gonzalez was always a second or even third fiddle to the Holmes and Ginn tandem. Despite being relatively undersized (listed at 6'0, but c'mon man), Gonzalez still added his name to the ever growing list of Ohio State wide receivers in the first round, and regularly made life a living hell for whoever was tasked at covering the slot receiver from Cleveland, Ohio.
Second Team: Brian Robiskie
Years Played: 2005-2008, Stats: 127 receptions, 1,866 yards, 24 touchdowns, Honors: 2008 Team Captain
Why he's a backup: Besides being a crucial part of Troy Smith's "Heisman moment", Robiskie thrived as the unquestioned number one option in 2007 as part of the Todd Boeckman led national champion runner-up Buckeyes (that felt so weird to write). Unfortunately for Robiskie, the beginning of the Pryor years eliminated basically any chance of a football ending up within a 10 foot radius of Robiskie, but he still got to take home four pairs of gold pants for his trouble.
Second Team: Mike Thomas
Years Played: 2012-2015, Stats: 113 receptions, 1,602 receiving yards, 18 touchdowns, Honors: 2014 National Champion
Why he's a backup: While a shot at playing in 2013 may have done wonders for both Thomas' career stats and Ohio State's passing offense, only two years truly on the field is why Thomas is coming off the bench. But, there may not be a more complete wide receiver than Thomas to come through Ohio State. The leading wide receiver on both the 2014 and 2015 squads, Thomas' catch against Alabama will be replayed until the end of time.
Brian Hartline: If Robiskie was Batman, Hartline was Robin. Two 1,000 yard seasons in the pros for Harline goes to show you just how talented the wide receivers were on those late 2000s Buckeyes' teams.
DeVier Posey: Poised for a breakout senior season, Posey's legacy will always be marred by the infamous tattoo scandal (and Braxton Miller's overthrow against Michigan in 2011). Regardless, Posey was the number one receiver on Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl winning Ohio State teams.
Dane Sanzenbacher: The only thing more fun than saying his name was watching him play. Ohio State's 2010 Team MVP, Sanzenbacher regularly bailed out Pryor, as evidenced when he recovered a Pryor fumble in the end-zone during Ohio State's 2010 Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas.
Chris Vance: Doesn't quite have the numbers, but Spider-Man was a beast, and I'm pretty sure he visited my elementary school (shout out to Daniel Wright) when I was a kid. Thanks for that, Chris.
Jalin Marshall: The best Ohio State punt returner since Ginn, Marshall could have risen up this list if he didn't decide to leave early for the NFL.
Corey "Philly" Brown: While Brown lit it up for the Panthers during their 2015 Super Bowl run, his time at OSU flipped back and forth between making electrifying plays and fumbling that punt return against Clemson. I'm sorry, I still haven't quite gotten over that one.
And that's that. Ohio State's Wide Receiver U. Did I forget someone? Is anyone pissed off I included Evan Spencer on the first team? Let me hear it in the comments.