Trying to assemble a team of players for Jim Tressel's first decade was not an easy task. Intentionally, I set up some restrictions to make this team as "Tresselized" as possible.
First, I only considered players who began their Ohio State playing careers in 2001. This eliminated many players from the 2002 national championship team that Tressel inherited from previous head coach John Cooper. Players such as QB Craig Krenzel, DE Will Smith, LB Matt Wilhelm, S Michael Doss - all key contributors to the national championship run, were not recruited by Jim Tressel and had not played for only Jim Tressel. So that eliminated several great Buckeyes right there.
Secondly, I tried to restrict my selections to those players who were named All-Big Ten by the coaches and media. You will see how this played out below.
Lastly, and this was just a personal effort, I tried to only include players from 2001-2010. Players with eligibility remaining were considered, but I truly tried to find those players who played during the 2001-2010 seasons. You will see below a selection where I broke my own self-imposed rule.
LT Alex Boone ~ First team All Big Ten in 2008
C Nick Mangold ~ Surprisingly, Nick Mangold was only a second-team All Big Ten selection in 2005. Even with Doug Datish being the first-team All-Big Ten center in 2006, I am going to give the nod to Mangold.
RG T.J. Downing ~ First team All Big Ten in 2006
RT Kirk Barton ~ First team All Big Ten in 2007
TE Jake Ballard ~ This was truly a tough selection, as Ohio State does not throw enough to the TE to garner any serious All-Big Ten consideration. I made my selection based upon Ballard's clutch receptions throughout his career.
QB Troy Smith ~ First team All Big Ten in 2006, and Big Ten 2006 offensive player of the year. 2006 Heisman Trophy winner, and more importantly to Ohio State, 3-0 as the starting quarterback against Michigan (2004-2006).
FB Zach Boren ~ Here is an example of needing to break my own rules. Boren has two years of eligibility remaining for the 2011 and 2012 seasons, but he is arguably the best fullback Jim Tressel has had during his Ohio State tenure.
RB Maurice Clarett ~ First team All Big Ten in 2002. Yes, I know how much of a headache Clarett was, and I know Chris Wells was also All Big Ten in 2007. I give Clarett the nod here simply because Ohio State would not have won the national championship without him in 2002 - click on the link for the highlights from 2002, and you will see for yourself all the big plays Clarett made for the team.
WR Dane Sanzenbacher ~ First team All Big Ten in 2010. I know that either Anthony Gonzalez or Ted Ginn, Jr. could be here as well, but Sanzenbacher was a selection by both the coaches and media. Gonzalez was a coaches' selection in 2006, while Ginn was a media selection in 2006. Sanzenbacher truly was the type of receiver for Ohio State who would make clutch plays when the Buckeyes needed them. Ohio State will truly miss Sanzenbacher in 2011.
CB Chris Gamble ~ Gamble was recruited as a wide receiver in 2001, but his play at cornerback in 2002 was crucial to the national championship team. Gamble was All Big Ten in 2002 and 2003. Ashton Youboty was also considered for his All Big Ten play in 2005.
DE Mike Kudla ~ First team All Big Ten in 2005
DT Quinn Pitcock ~ First team All Big Ten in 2006
DE Vernon Gholston ~ First team All Big Ten in 2007, and Big Ten defensive lineman of the year in 2007.
LB A.J. Hawk ~ First team All Big Ten in 2003, 2004, 2005, and Hawk was Big Ten defensive player of the year in 2005.
LB Brian Rolle ~ First team All Big Ten in 2010. Ross Homan was also considered, but Rolle gets the nod as he was selected by both the coaches and media, while Homan was a media first team selection in 2010.
SS Donte Whitner ~ First team All Big Ten in 2005
KR/PR Ted Ginn, Jr ~ There is not an official kick returner or punt returner position category as awarded by The Big Ten, but who else besides Ted Ginn, Jr. could truly be considered for this job?
P A. J. Trapasso ~ Another difficult selection. Andy Groom was the punter on the 2002 national championship team, but Groom also played for John Cooper. Same for B.J. Sander in 2003. Trapasso was an honorable mention selection in 2007.
Part Eight: Michigan
Part Seven: The Comparisons
Part Six: The Bowl Wins
Part Five: The Nailbiters
Part Four: The Defeats
Part Three: The Seasons
Part Two: The Recruits
Part One: The Speech