Next up in our quest to name the best Buckeye recruits since 1985: Northwest Ohio. A battleground area over the years thanks to the proximity to Michigan, this region has not sent as many players to Ohio State as has the northeast or the southwest, but there have been some big-time stars to emerge from the group that has. That includes one of the best Buckeyes ever regardless of position, another original Silver Bullet (yeah, we've covered a few of those already) and an undersized receiver who continues to defy expectations to this day.
Check out our list and let us know who is your choice as No. 1.
After starring on St. Henry teams that won football and basketball state championships, Bobby Hoying was a three-year starter at quarterback for Ohio State from 1993-95. He helped lead the Buckeyes to a share of the 1993 Big Ten title, their first 1986, and finished his career as Ohio State's all-time leader in touchdowns passes (57) and 200-yard passing games (16).
He was the first-team All-Big Ten quarterback as a senior in 1995 when he completed 211 pass for 3,269 yards and 29 touchdowns. Those were all school records at the time, as were his .619 completion percentage. His 7,232 career passing yards are still second on Ohio State's all-time list, and his 163.4 QB rating as a senior is still the best in school history for a single season. Hoying also was an exceptional student and won the 1995 Draddy Award, an honor often referred to as the academic Heisman, and played five seasons in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and Oakland Raiders.
A standout on both sides of the ball at Fostoria High School, Damon Moore was a four-year letterman and a three-year starter for Ohio State after signing in 1994. A hard-hitting safety who thrived in defensive coordinator Fred Pagac's aggressive scheme, Moore led the original edition of the Silver Bullets in tackles with 89 in 1996 as a sophomore. He also topped the squad as a senior with 81. His 191 solo tackles are still ninth in an Ohio State career, and only Mike Doss has more as a defensive back. Moore tied the official Ohio State single-game record with three interceptions against Iowa in 1996 and shares the OSU career record with two interception returns for touchdowns. Moore was a two-time member of the All-Big Ten first team and named an All-American in 1998.
Keeping the player regarded by many as the best offensive line prospect in the country at home was key in John Cooper's ability to put together one of the top recruiting classes in the country in 1994. Pace was a high school All-American at Sandusky High School, where he played on the offensive and defensive lines and also stood out on the basketball floor thanks to his nearly unheard of athleticism for a 6-7, 300-plus-pounder. Pace became an immediate starter at Ohio State and dominated Big Ten defensive linemen for three seasons before leaving school early to become the No. 1 pick in the 1997 NFL Draft. Pace won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football as the Big Ten MVP in 1996 and was a two-time Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year. He also became the first two-time Lombardi Award winner. He also won the Outland Trophy as a junior, the same year he finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting (the highest finish for an offensive lineman since Ohio State's John Hicks finished second in 1973). He is a member of the Ohio State Varsity 'O' Hall of Fame and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame last year.
Despite his status as a four-star prospect, there were those who wondered if Dane Sanzenbacher had the size to make an impact at the college level. The Toledo Catholic Central product wasted little time alleviating those concerns, though, as he caught the first touchdown pass of the 2007 season as a true freshman and went on to become not only a four-year letterwinner but an all-conference performer and team MVP. He led the team in catches (55) and receiving yards (948) as a senior in 2010, making the All-Big Ten first team in the process, and is still 10th in school history in both catches (124) and yards (1,879). His 19 career touchdown receptions are tied with Joey Galloway for No. 5 in OSU annals, and his four TD catches against Eastern Michigan in 2010 are tied with Terry Glenn and Bob Grimes for No. 1 in a single game. He started 28 of his 50 career games and has continued to defy the odds in the NFL, first making the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and spending the past two seasons with the Bengals.
A four-star recruit from Toledo St. John's, Jack Mewhort made the All-Big Ten first team as a senior, but his impact on the Ohio State football team went beyond merely his exemplary play. Mewhort was not only a versatile lineman who started for three seasons at three different positions, he was also regarded as one of the team's most important leaders as the program went through months of turmoil and three different head coaches during his time as an active Buckeye player. He served as a captain for the 2013 season and was picked in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. As a senior, Mewhort was considered the anchor of an offensive line that helped Ohio State average a program-best 6.8 yards per carry and finish fifth in the nation in rushing at 308.6 yards per game while breaking school records for points and touchdowns.
Honorable mention: Derek Isaman (Fremont Ross), Alan Kline (Tiffin Columbian), Matt LaVrar (Maumee), Tony Eisenhard (Tiffin Columbian), Tim Anderson (Clyde), Josh Huston (Findlay), Joel Penton (Van Wert), Brandon Schnittker (Sandusky Perkins), Todd Boeckman (St. Henry).
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