Greatest College Football Players Tournament: 3. James Laurinaitis vs. 14. Bryant McKinnie

Who's the greatest college football player of the past 25 years? We hope you'll help decide. (Associated Press photos).

(WTNH)–Welcome in to the Greatest College Football Players Tournament, where we’re looking to determine the Grandaddy of the Gridiron in the past 25 years. (Ahem. Keith Jackson voice).

Stop pinching yourself. It’s real.

Our first round is just getting underway, so check our index for the bracket and matchups as they are posted.

 

BARRY SANDERS REGION

** FILE **  Ohio State's James Laurinaitis, right, intercepts a pass in front of Iowa receiver Scott Chandler, left, during the second half of this college football game in Iowa City, Iowa in this Sept. 30, 2006 file photo. Going into the 2006 season, everybody figured the Ohio State offense would produce points. Yet a young defense that has given up just 10.4 points a game has been a major surprise _ one the Florida Gators will have to figure out how to stop. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
 Ohio State’s James Laurinaitis, right, intercepts a pass in front of Iowa receiver Scott Chandler, left, during the second half of this college football game in Iowa City, Iowa in this Sept. 30, 2006 file photo. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

3. James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State (2005-08)

 

It’s easy to forget now that the near-unbeatable Urban Meyer has taken over the headset, but the Buckeyes had things rolling in the mid-2000’s, under head coach Jim Tressel. Ohio State reached two straight national championship games in 2007-08, but lost both (to Florida, then LSU). They also won 43 games from 2005-08, thanks in large part to a nasty defense headlined by hard-hitting linebacker James Laurinaitis.

The son of a famous WWE wrestler, Laurinaitis became one of the most feared linebackers in Big Ten history. He was the only player in college football to be earn three-time consensus All-American honors during the 2000’s, won Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year twice (2007 and ’08), and racked up the Bronko Nagurski, Dick Butkus, and Ronnie Lott trophies.

He finished his collegiate career with 375 total tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks and 9 interceptions.

bryant mckinnie 2002 sage hit rc Greatest College Football Players Tournament: 3. James Laurinaitis vs. 14. Bryant McKinnie14. Bryant McKinnie, OT, Miami (1999-2001)

Named the 10th best college football player of the BCS era by Athlon Sports, McKinnie was the definition of an immovable object on the line at Miami during the program’s rise to dominance. A consensus All-American in 2001, McKinnie was so dominant that season that he finished 8th in Heisman Trophy voting. 8th. Again, he’s an offensive lineman. He did win the Outland Trophy as the best lineman (defensive or offensive) in the game that season, though.

He only spent two years in Miami thanks to a two-year stint at Lackawanna College in Pennsylvania, but in that time, the Hurricanes went 23-1. The ’01 squad is still considered one of the best teams of all-time, and it thrashed Nebraska to win the BCS national title that season.

SportzEdge.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s