The 2010s are coming to an end and we can’t help but reminisce about the memories that the decade brought with it— a national championship, four Big Ten titles, four head coaches, and some of the best to ever wear the scarlet and gray.
To wrap up the decade, we want to hear from you about who you think should comprise the Ohio State Buckeyes’ All-Decade team. From now until the end of the year, we will be going position by position and giving you the candidates so that you can decide who receives this honor more prestigious than a tree in Buckeye Grove, a pair of gold pants, or a ring so big that you have to carry a 10-pound weight in the other hand just to stay balanced.
You’ll be able to vote in the positional articles through Dec. 30 at 12 noon ET, and on Twitter for one week after the poll goes up. Keep in mind that since we are conducting part of the voting on Twitter, we are limited to just four options per position, so this is going to be tough!
Once all the votes are in for every position, we’ll reveal the final All-Decade roster on the final day of the 2010s.
Next up: Linebacker. Here are your candidates.
Ryan Shazier (2011-2013)
It’s been more than two years since fans across the country witnessed one of the scariest on-field injuries in football as Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier lay motionless on the field for minutes after making a tackle during Monday Night Football in Cincinnati. Since that moment, Shazier has made a miraculous comeback - learning to walk again, working his way back toward the football field and maybe even making an appearance on Dancing with the Stars (he did already dance at his own wedding).
Prior to his injury, Shazier was an anchor on Pittsburgh’s defense, having been drafted out of Ohio State by the Steelers with the 15th-overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
During his three seasons in Columbus (he forewent his final season of eligibility, given his ultimate first-round selection), Shazier recorded 317 total tackles, including 45.5 for loss, and 15 sacks. After his final season with the Buckeyes, Shazier earned first team All-American honors.
In Shazier’s final season with the Buckeyes, the junior led the Buckeyes with 102 solo tackles, nearly doubling up the No. 2 man who had 56. In a single game (against Indiana), Shazier had 16 solo tackles, including five tackles for loss.
Darron Lee (2014-2015)
Linebacker Darron Lee is the first of two members of this list who was part of Ohio State’s College Football Playoff National Championship team. Lee seemed to be in Columbus for a long time, despite giving up two seasons of eligibility when he eventually declared for the 2016 NFL Draft. After playing in two games during the 2013 season, Lee sustained a serious injury which resulted in a medical redshirt. That meant that, when Lee eventually earned defensive MVP honors in the 2015 Sugar Bowl after recording seven solo tackles and two sacks against Alabama, he did so as a redshirt freshman. For his performance, Lee also brought home freshman All-American honors.
Lee’s performance is all the more impressive considering he was initially a quarterback, and made the switch to linebacker during his freshman season in Columbus. Over the course of his two-year Ohio State career, Lee accumulated 147 tackles. 12 sacks and three picks.
During the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine, Lee posted the fastest 40-yard dash time among linebackers with a 4.47-second run. Lee was ultimately taken with the 20th-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. After three seasons in New York, Lee went to Kansas City as a free agent before the start of the 2019 season.
Raekwon McMillan (2014-2016)
Inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan is the second linebacker on this list with a national championship ring, though he was, at the time, a true freshman. Before coming to Ohio State, McMillan was the top-ranked inside linebacker of the 2014 recruiting class. However, despite the five-star recruiting tag, McMillan still managed to live up to the hype.
In three seasons with the Buckeyes, McMillan had 272 total tackles, six sacks and a pick-six. He was first-team All-Big Ten for his performances in both the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
McMillan was ultimately taken by Miami in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft with the 54th-overall pick, and has spent the last three seasons with the Dolphins. McMillan, who happens to play alongside fellow former Ohio State linebacker Jerome Baker in Miami, is currently on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.
Malik Harrison (2016-2019)
After several years of mediocrity at the position, Malik Harrison is leading the resurgence of the Ohio State linebacking corps. A two-year starter, Harrison tied for the lead for the Buckeyes last season in total tackles with 81.
Moving into 2019, on a loaded defense, Harrison brought home first team All-Big Ten honors at linebacker, joining defensive end Chase Young and defensive backs Jordan Fuller and Jeffrey Okudah. This season alone, Harrison recorded 69 tackles, 4.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries -- and this season isn’t even over yet. In four seasons at Ohio State, Harrison accumulated 199 total tackles. And then there’s his mad hoops skills:
While there’s certainly recency bias at play, Harrison has been a critical part of a defense which (knock on wood) has shown few weaknesses throughout the season. He has been the leader of a much-improved linebacking unit under position coach Al Washington. His performance in the College Football Playoff, capping his career at Ohio State, will certainly play a role in solidifying his legacy in Buckeye lore.
Remember, since we are limited to four options on Twitter polls, some other great Buckeyes will get left out of some of these polls. If you want to tell us how wrong we are for leaving your favorite player out, or if you want to make your case for one of the candidates, please feel free to do so in the comments below!
Which Buckeye linebacker should be on Ohio State’s All-Decade team?
Who was Ohio State’s best linebacker of the decade?
This poll is closed