Here at Buckeye Wire, we’re going through the best of the best of each position group in Ohio State football history during our Mount Rushmore series. Next up is the defensive line position, but remember, we looked at the defensive ends separately. That means the top four here are all interior linemen.
Ohio State Football: The Buckeyes’ Mount Rushmore Of Interior Defensive Linemen
They say that football games are won in the trenches, and you’d be hard pressed not to agree.
To that end, having a stout and playmaking defensive line can cover up a lot of deficiencies on an otherwise average football team. Ohio State is rarely a simpleton as it relates to talent, but they too have thrown out some all-time defensive linemen that have made life difficult on opposing offenses.
Here are our four selections for the Mount Rushmore of Ohio State defensive linemen. And as always, we encourage you to get in on the conversation and contact us on Twitter or Facebook.
Jim Stillwagon (1968-1970)
Stillwagon was a consensus All-American for the Buckeyes in 1969 and 1970, and was a part of the national-title winning super sophomore team of 1968. He was a three-year starter for Ohio State.
He won the Outland trophy, given to college football’s best interior lineman in 1970, and was also the recipient of the first ever Lombardi Award given annually to college football’s best lineman or linebacker.
In almost every Ohio State list you’ll see published, including an all-time Century team, Stillwagon will appear. If he doesn’t, then rip up the list and toss it away with all the Michigan trash.
In other words, he was a stud.
Unfortunately, Stillwagon passes away just this month. He will be remembered.
Dan Wilkinson (1992-1993)
“Big Daddy” Dan Wilkinson may have fizzled out in the NFL, but he was almost unstoppable in college. He played just two years for Ohio State but racked up a total of 90 tackles — 23.5 of those for loss at his nose tackle position.
There wasn’t a soul in college who could stop his blend of power, speed and agility one-on-one, and the NFL agreed. He was named a first team All-American in 1993 and went on to be the first pick of the NFL draft in 1994 by the Cincinnati Bengals.
He also garnered All-Big Ten honors both of his seasons in Columbus, along with a bushel of hurt egos.
Bill Willis (1942-1944)
Ahh, Bill Willis. His accomplishments transcend football, but he was awfully good at it, so we’ll start there.
Willis was named an All-American in the national championship year of 1942, and then the following year as well. He was undersized at 210 lbs. for a defensive lineman, but his power and quickness set him apart.
He should probably get more recognition than he does for what he did to break the color barrier. He was one of the first African-Americans to play professional football one-year prior to when Jackie Robinson broke into the major leagues.
In the NFL, he was voted All-Pro each of the eight years he played for the Cleveland Browns, and on November 3, 2007, Ohio State retired Willis’ number.
He is an icon of American football.
Chuck Csuri (1941-1942, 1946)
Csuri is another former Buckeye who probably deserves more recognition. Unfortunately, stats aren’t all that easy to find from back around the World War II era, but we know enough about him to include him on any mention of character, human quality, or leader.
He is actually probably more well-known as a pioneer in digital art. In fact he is widely recognized as the father of digital art and animation. But that’s not all.
Football wise, Csuri was on the national championship team of 1942, but was also named as the team MVP and All-American during that year. He also named a captain the following year in 1943.
However, he was a real-life Forrest Gump. He also served in the military at the Battle of the Bulge, and won a Bronze Star for heroism in 1945. To say that he had many talents would be an understatement.
Yes, Chuck Csuri and our recognition as one of the all-timers to be chiseled into the Mount Rushmore of OSU D-lineman go together like peas and carrots.
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