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Broken Records: Ohio State’s interception records haven’t seen much change recently

Malik Hooker is the only entry in the top-10 of Ohio State’s career, single-game, or season interception lists.

Ohio State v Penn State Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

From now until preseason camp starts in August, Land-Grant Holy Land will be writing articles around a different theme every week. This week is all about records, the ones that have been broken, the ones that could be broken, and the ones that will never be broken. You can catch up on all of the Theme Week content here and all of our ”Broken Records” articles here.

Ohio State has put some tremendous defensive backs in the NFL over the last couple decades. Despite having a great collection of DBs, one part of the school’s record books that hasn’t been touched much recently has been the interception totals. In nearly every other category, there has been at least a handful of new entries within the past few seasons. The same can’t be said when it comes to the Buckeyes picking the football off.

When you look at the school’s career interception leaders, there are no Buckeyes in the top-10 that played after 1999. Mike Sensibaugh’s 22 interceptions are the most in school history, which were five more passes than Fred Bruney picked off. Sensibaugh’s Ohio State career finished in 1970, while Bruney graduated in 1952.

Ahmed Plummer is the most recent entry in the top-10, with his 14 career interceptions tying for sixth-most in school history. Damon Moore, whose last season in the scarlet and gray came in 1998, is the only other Ohio State player in the top-10 to play in the 1990s. Moore intercepted 12 passes in his career, which puts him in a three-way tie for ninth.

Missouri V Ohio State

Sensibaugh and Bruney also dominated the single-season interception school records. The nine interceptions by Sensibaugh in 1969 are tied with Craig Cassidy’s total in 1975 for the most in a season at Ohio State. Sensibaugh nearly reached that mark the following season, picking off eight passes in 1970, which was equaled by Neal Colzie four years later for third-most in a season in school history. Bruney intercepted seven passes in both 1951 and 1952.

Another Buckeye that intercepted seven passes in a season was Malik Hooker, who accomplished the feat during the 2016 season. Hooker is the only Ohio State defender in the 2000s to make the top-10 on the school’s interception record books when it comes to career, single-season, or single-game totals.

When it comes to the most interceptions in a game in school history, there are nine Buckeyes that have a hat trick of picks in a game. The most recent of those achievements came in 1996, when Damon Moore picked off three passes against Iowa. Not only was Fred Bruney the first Ohio State player to accomplish the feat in 1951 against Illinois, he did it again the following year against Michigan, and to this day is the only Ohio State player to intercept three passes in a game twice in a career.

The lack of new entries on the school’s interceptions list is puzzling, not only because of the talent Ohio State has produced over the years, but also because of how football has turned more to the pass and away from the run. If anything, it feels like the interception marks should be dominated by players from this era, and not from the 50-60 years ago. Even though quarterbacks are throwing the football more, they are definitely throwing it with more accurately these days.

One reason why there hasn’t been as much new blood on Ohio State’s interceptions lists is maybe the defensive backs just can’t catch. Interestingly enough, when it comes to pass break-ups, there is only one Buckeye that played before 1996 in the single-season top-10, and everyone in the career pass break-up top-10 started their Ohio State career in 1994 or after. Bradley Roby not only has the most pass break-ups in school history with 36, but he is also tied with Ahmed Plummer for most in a season, as his 17 PBUs in 2012 matched Plummer’s mark from 1998.

Nebraska v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

After the play from the secondary over the last few years, it’s hard to imagine the school’s interception records being threatened anytime soon. It’s not that Ohio State doesn’t have some talented players either currently in Columbus or on their way to Ohio’s capital, we just rarely see the Buckeyes rack up big interception totals these days. Even though teams around the Big Ten have moved more towards the pass, there are still teams that love to run the football as much as possible. Wisconsin was that way, but it could change with Luke Fickell now in charge in Madison.

Another factor keeping recent players away from the top of the career interception list is usually any strong players in the secondary don’t stick around long enough to hit the marks needed. Most of Ohio State’s high draft picks from the secondary have declared for the NFL Draft before their senior seasons, which hasn’t given them the time to accumulate the stats to make the top-10. The career totals list when it comes to interception is populated with a lot of players from eras where it was common to stick around through your senior season.

While all that really matters in the grand scheme of things is Ohio State winning games, it would be nice to see players from the Buckeye secondary to put up some big interception numbers in a season, or a career. Then again, it’s hard to blame quarterbacks from looking the other way with some of the cornerbacks and safeties we’ve seen come through Columbus over the last 10-15 years.