Career Statistic Resume: Played Wide Receiver at Ohio State from 2004-2006. Recorded 135 receptions, 1,943 receiving yards, 15 receiving touchdowns, 28 rushing attempts for 213 yards and 3 touchdowns, 6 punt return touchdowns, 2 kickoff return touchdowns, at the time a record 4 punt return touchdowns in his freshman season, and 1 passing touchdown. Played for two Big Ten Champion teams. Winner
Have you ever thought about what you could accomplish in 12 seconds? You could write a sentence, answer a question, maybe eat a cookie. Michael Scott would tell you that he could brush his teeth and have seven seconds to spare.
12 seconds, however, is all Ted Ginn Jr. needed to return the opening kickoff the 2006-07 national championship game for a touchdown. Add a second onto that 12 and Teddy could have completed a 110 meter hurdles race (which he was crowned the national champion of his senior year of high school).
I remember that play. It was the 2nd Ohio State football game I ever watched, and I remember his white uniform streaking up the sideline with breakneck speed as my Dad jumped up and down and shouted at the top of his lungs. In a tragic turn of events, that would be the last play of Ted Ginn’s college career. His overly excited and (in retrospect) ignorant teammates slid into Ginn and dog piled on him in the end zone. The celebration severely injured Ginn’s right foot, and prevented him from returning to the game, which Florida won over Ohio State 41-14.
No matter how biased or passionate Ohio State fans can be, I’ve never met one of us who thought that the ’06 Buckeyes would have won if Ginn hadn’t been injured. The ’06 team was overrated due to its lackluster schedule and poor discipline in preparation for the championship game, as the entire offensive line got drunk on the eve of the big game and Heisman winning quarterback Troy Smith put on 10 pounds of fat from a steady fast food diet during December.
However, almost all Ohio State fans say one thing when asked about Ginn’s injury, “It would have been closer.” Some college football die hards might scoff at that sentiment, doubtful that a gimmicky, speed-based receiver could have given problems to a Florida defense that held Ohio State to four completions for 35 passing yards that night. But Ted Ginn was far more than just a receiver. He was the most dynamic special teams player college football had ever seen to that point. He was put at running back often and given looks in the wildcat. He was the speed demon who convinced the most conservative football coach of the modern era, Jim Tressel, to embrace the shotgun and four wide receiver sets. He was the first player to make Ohio State a high scoring, ultra thrilling offense. Ohio State always knew how to win, dating back to the days of Woody Hayes, but those teams were also described as boring, monotonous, and militaristic. Ted Ginn, along with his quarterback Troy Smith, finally combined effectiveness with aesthetically pleasing football at Ohio State.
It’s quite possible that Ginn would be number one on this list had I been able to watch him live in Scarlet and Gray for more than one game and 12 seconds. I know I’ve mentioned Youtube highlight reels many many times on this list already, but I will die believing that this Ted Ginn video is the greatest set of highlights ever created. I’ve watched it at least 100 times and when showing it to friends will point out what highlight is about to happen next in the video. Just watch what he does to this poor Oklahoma State defense in 2004.
I love talking about Ted Ginn. I love watching old videos of Ted Ginn. I still cheer for Ted Ginn in his 14th year in the NFL. Players that move faster than others are inherently more fun to root for. I really wish that I could have seen him more in his college prime.
But I didn’t have the connection with him that I had with the top five. Their time on the gridiron coincided with my growth as an Ohio State football fanatic, and their good fortune is rewarded with a high placement on this list. Not that it matters to him at all, but I think Ted Ginn can live with being behind five players on this list in exchange for being a college legend and beloved by every person in the state of Ohio.