Each member of the 2010 College Football Hall of Fame class had a large contingent of fans present in South Bend, Indiana this weekend to honor him. But of the 24 person class, the partisans present on behalf of Ohio State legend Chris Spielman stood out above the rest. They were the largest group; over a hundred strong showed up sporting Spielman’s scarlet #36 jersey.
And as well they should have- because Spielman truly made a name for himself during his four years in Columbus, leading the Buckeyes to three consecutive bowl games and two Big Ten Championships. Like every player eligible for CFHOF induction, he was also a first team All-American; and first team All-Big Ten three times.
Today, he works as a college football color commentator in Columbus for local sports talk radio as well as ESPN. So when I had an exclusive with him on Saturday, my first question was, of course, what about the 2010 Buckeyes?
By Paul M. Banks
“Obviously, I think Terrelle Pryor is the key. I think what people don’t point out is that he had first year wide receivers last year, now those guys are in their second year with him, in (Dane) Sanzenbacher and Devier Posey. So I think their outlook is outstanding,” Spielman said.
“The defense should be strong, both running backs return. They control their own destiny, we’ll see what happens,” he continued.
Spielman’s optimism is not homerism. OSU is ranked in the top 5 in pretty much all preseason publication power rankings, and #2 in quite a few. I also asked about Cameron Heyward, a first round NFL Draft level talent, and one of the Bucks’ primary playmakers on defense.
“He’s a beast man. Cameron can play inside, he can play otuside. Plays with a high motor, and one thing that Ohio State has, as well as a lot of Big Ten schools have, Penn State especially, is depth. They keep rolling guys in there. So you’re always getting a fresh Cameron Heyward, or if you’re not getting a Cameron Heyward, you’re getting a guy with his ears pinned back ready to prove himself to earn more reps” Spielman said.
“That’s the luxury that Ohio State, Florida, Texas- all those schools that seem to be in it every year have.”
In ’87 Spielman won the Lombardi Award and was named the top defensive player in the 1987 Cotton Bowl. Spielman finished his career with eight sacks, 11 interceptions and the most solo tackles in Buckeye history.
Upon leaving Columbus, Spielman was taken in the second round of the NFL draft by the Detroit Lions. During his time with Detroit, Spielman became the first Lion to register 1,000 career tackles. In his 10 year NFL career with Detroit and Buffalo, he made six Pro Bowls. I asked him what he thinks about the current Detroit team, and what they can do to get their reclamation project moving forward.
“They have players, and everyone says how good they are, but they’re young. So if I were a Lions fans I’d say be patient you still have to grow a little bit. They’re talented, but there’s still a long way to go in my opinion. Maybe they’ll turn it around but I just think they’re a year or two years away,” Spielman said.
Paul M. Banks is President and CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football.com, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com
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