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Broken Records: These single-season Ohio State touchdown records could be shattered in 2021

Day and his guys have the potential to break a few long-standing records in 2021
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

All this week, LGHL writers will be bringing you articles inspired by their favorite Ohio State records. Check out all of our “Broken Records” thoughts throughout the week HERE. Whether you agree or disagree, let us know what you think in the comments below and on Twitter @Landgrant33.

The Ohio State record book is full of amazing accomplishments on both the single-game and full-season levels. NCAA Hall of Famers, All-Americans, All-Big Ten recipients, and long-forgotten players have all contributed. Some have stood the test of time (Vic Janowicz punted 21 times in a single game!), while others set a mark that fell just a few years (Braxton Miller’s career TD record lasted less than five). With so much talent coming through Columbus – and plenty more on the way – it seems like it is just a matter of time before the record book is full of statistics from the 2010’s and 2020’s. These single-season touchdown records could be in danger of falling in 2021 – although it is surprising some of them have lasted this long.


Special Teams: Kick Returns

Recently retired, Ted Ginn Jr. was a bad man. His punt return record is impressive - not impossible.
Photo by Jay Drowns/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

This unit does not get enough love and appreciation, but the Buckeyes have always placed an emphasis on special teams. We’re going to put them first for a change. Jim Tressel really made ST a priority, and Urban Meyer did the same. Ryan Day may not speak about ST with the same enthusiasm, but he has continued to put some of his best players out on the field for kick return, kick coverage, block attempts, etc. The return game specifically is where we could see new touchdown records set in 2021.

Amazingly (to me at least), the single-season TD record for kickoff returns at Ohio State is two… like, one more than one. The record was set by Lenny Willis, all the way back in 1974, and has not been matched since. Ted Ginn Jr. ran multiple kickoffs back in his career, but they occurred in different seasons. Ginn Jr. is only one of the many great return men the Buckeyes have had over the years, joining the likes of Ken-Yon Rambo, Jordan Hall (very underrated KO returner), and Curtis Samuel recently.

I believe the record could finally fall this year, primarily because it is two! Kickoff rules have completely changed in the college game - with the introduction of the fair catch anywhere - but two is not an insurmountable number. Fast players still want to get the ball in their hands and run 100 yards past 11 guys on the opposing team. Demario McCall is back for his 8th college season, and he has always teased us with potential in the return game. If he fails to live up to the hype this year, TreVeyon Henderson or one of the many explosive wide receivers could return plenty of kicks. There are enough special athletes on the team that three kickoffs could be taken to the house.

The punt return record is arguably more impressive, but also has potential to be broken. Ginn Jr. returned four punts for a touchdown in 2004. I was tempted to put this in the category of unbreakable records, but the current potential is about volume. Under Ryan Day, the Ohio State offense operates at a high speed. This leads to quicker possessions and more of them. If the defense plays well, this combination could lead to 5-10 punt opportunities every game. We have seen Garrett Wilson return punts, and this could be just one way he enters the OSU record books.

Neither of these records will be broken easily. There is a reason Willis’ has lasted almost 50 years, and Ginn Jr.’s record is absurd. Hell, Ohio State has not had a traditional kick return TD since 2014, when Jalin Marshall returned a punt against Indiana. All that being said, this 2021 team is full of talent, especially at the running back and wide receiver positions. Those players will get plenty of opportunities in the return game.

Receiving: 17 TD receptions I Terry Glenn, 1995

Hartline has built a a group of Mon-Stars. Could this be the year one of them breaks a record set by a late, great Buckeye?
Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On paper, the Buckeyes currently have the best collection of talent they have ever had in the receiving room. Largely due to Brian Hartline and his recruiting prowess, Ohio State has a steady stream of 4 and 5-star wide receivers ready to come in and make an impact. More importantly, once these guys get into the program, they actually develop. We have seen guys like Mike Thomas and Terry McLaurin go from solid but unspectacular recruits, to stars for their NFL team. Hartline is a superior coach compared to his predecessor, so who knows how far he can continue to elevate this position with the best of the best at his disposal.

The Ohio State record for receiving touchdowns in a season currently sits at 17, and it is not particularly close after that. David Boston holds the second and third sports, but his best season still puts him three behind the leader. The late, great Terry Glenn established OSU’s mark in 1995. Most impressively, Glenn caught his 17 touchdowns in only 11 games, missing one due to a shoulder injury. If the record is going to be broken in 2021 (or any time soon), there is a great chance that the player who does so is on year’s roster.

Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson are obviously the leading candidates to set a new record in 2021. Olave is tied for third on the list, thanks to his 12 in 2019. Garrett Wilson became a star in 2020, and seems to have unlimited potential. The crew behind them (Smith-Njigba, Fleming, Egbuka, Harrison Jr., etc) could break out at any time, putting this record in jeopardy for at least the next handful of seasons. We do not know exactly what we’re getting from the quarterback position, but you can rest assured that Ryan Day will have the best guy out there. If C.J. Stroud and WR1 do not set a new record this year, I would not be surprised if Kyle McCord, Quinn Ewers, or whomever else, is involved in setting it very soon.

Defense: 3 interception returns for TD I Malik Hooker, 2016

Hooker could make a big play like very few others, but Ohio State has reloaded at DB. They will look to prove 2020 was a fluke.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

This record is a complete wildcard. The fact that it exists, is just a good reason to remember how awesome Malik Hooker was as a Buckeye. Watching him play center field, break on the ball, and go up for a leaping catch was one of the more exciting things we have been witness to in the last handful of years. I stand by that.

I also stand by my confidence in an improved, reinvigorated, and better-coached secondary this season. Kerry Coombs and Matt Barnes have been hard at work in the lab to turn around what we saw from the OSU unit in 2020. With a full offseason, improved health, more experience, and a room full of 4 and 5-star recruits, I expect to see a lot of plays made.

While this year’s version of the Ohio State secondary might not match up to Okudah/Arnette/Wade, there is a ton of potential. If anybody is more likely than the rest to match or break Hooker’s record, my money is on Sevyn Banks. The senior only has two career interceptions, but is moving up mock drafts based on talent and tape. Even though he has been in the program for three years already, he has only played 27 games. He is still learning and improving, and could be the next man up in a line of great Buckeye corners. Maybe one of OSU’s talented youngsters will get on the field, and make special things happen.

Malik Hooker returning three picks for TD was a total anomaly. He is tied for second in NCAA history, with a bunch of players behind Deltha O’Neal (Cal, 1999). If OSU were to have three pick-sixes as a team in 2021, it would be something. But records are made to be broken… eventually. I am going out on a limb with this one, but I believe Coombs and Barnes can get the secondary back to its usual level of play.

Poll

Which of these Ohio State single-season TD records is most likely to go down in 2021?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Kickoff returns for TD
    (34 votes)
  • 9%
    Punt returns for TD
    (18 votes)
  • 57%
    TD receptions
    (105 votes)
  • 14%
    The most exciting play in football: the pick-6
    (27 votes)
184 votes total Vote Now