Twenty-five years ago this year, John Cooper coached his first game on the sidelines at Ohio State, and we at Buckeye Sports Bulletin are celebrating the anniversary by allowing fans to vote on the best players to play in the Cooper era to make an All-John Cooper team.
Cooper is a lightning rod among Ohio State fans, as his struggles against Michigan and in bowl games are well documented, but at the same time, he put Buckeye football back on the map and served as a bridge for the program into the modern era of college football while also remaking the team into a high-flying, nationally contending outfit.
For his efforts, Cooper has been named to the Rose Bowl and College Football halls of fame, and he will join the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame this weekend as the Buckeyes host Wisconsin on Hall of Fame weekend.
We now have a full complement of skill position players. Quarterback Joe Germaine has tailback Eddie George and fullback Scottie Graham behind him with Terry Glenn and David Boston out wide and Rickey Dudley at tight end.
But now comes perhaps the most important part of the team: the offensive line. After all, you can’t have a great offense without some solid protection up front. So we start with the offensive tackles, including what could be a unanimous choice at left tackle.
What follows are thumbnail bios of the contenders in chronological order with the poll below.
Orlando Pace: Is Orlando Pace.
Joe Staysniak: Was a first-team All-Big Ten choice in 1989. … Was the starter for each of Cooper’s first two seasons in 1988 and ’89. … Was an academic All-American and team captain in 1989. … Played in the NFL from 1990-96, earning a starting job with the Indianapolis Colts while also playing with San Diego, Buffalo, Kansas City and Arizona.
Jason Winrow: Started in both 1991 and ’92 at right tackle before moving to right guard as a senior. … Returned to the team in ’93 after the death of his infant son. … Earned first-team All-Big Ten honors his senior year as well as second-team All-America notice. … Also played some tackle as a senior as Korey Stringer fought an ankle injury. … Was chosen by the coaching staff as the team’s best offensive lineman in 1991.
Korey Stringer: Was named first-team All-America in both 1993 and ’94, capturing first-team All-Big Ten honors each year as well while being named Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year each season. … Was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 1992 by the league’s coaches. … Captured Ohio State team MVP honors in 1994. ... Was a first-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings, embarking on a six-year pro career that included a Pro Bowl bid in 2000 but ended when he passed away of heat stroke during training camp in 2001.
Eric Gohlstin: Was chosen first-team All-Big Ten in 1997. … Started from at tackle in 1995, split time at tackle and center in 1996, and again played both in ’97, moving to center to replace cousin Juan Porter for his senior season then heading back to right tackle for the end of the campaign thanks to struggles elsewhere on the line. … A prep All-American, led the Buckeyes to the Rose Bowl win in 1996. … Helped the 1995 team to a school-record 6,222 yards of total offense and 33 passing touchdowns.