Dienhart: My All-Big Ten Offense since 2000

The 2000s saw plenty of great players in the Big Ten. One, in fact, won the Heisman: Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith (2006), who arguably is the top player from the 2000s. Over the next couple days, I’m going to take a look at the best of the best in the Big Ten since the calendar flipped to 2000. First up: Offense.

Before I get to the list, I have a couple rules:  1. A player had to play at least two seasons to be considered; 2. Nebraska players prior to 2011 are not eligible.

[ RELATED: See Dienhart’s All-Big Ten Defense since 2000 ]


WR: Braylon Edwards, Michigan (2001-04). The Biletnikoff Award winner as a senior with 97 catches and 1,330 yards, he finished with 252 receptions, 3,541 yards receiving and 39 TD grabs in an illustrious career in Ann Arbor.

WR: Taylor Stubblefield, Purdue (2001-04). He left West Lafayette as the NCAA career leader with 325 catches. He also had 3,629 career receiving yards and 21 TDs.

TE: Dallas Clark, Iowa (1999-2002). He capped his career by winning the Mackey Award as a senior, ending a career that saw him make 81 catches for 1,281 yards, 8 TDs in just two seasons as tight end. Clark had 43 catches for 742 yards with 4 scores in 2002.

QB: Troy Smith, Ohio State (2003-06). There were some good signal-callers in the 2000s, but Smith gets the nod based on his 2006 Heisman season in which he led the Buckeyes to the BCS title game.

RB: Mike Hart, Michigan (2004-07). The diminutive Hart rushed 1,015 times for 5,040 yards, both Michigan records, and 41 TDs. Hart placed fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting in 2006 and ran for at least 100 yards 28 times and 200 yards five times, both Michigan all-time marks.

RB: Montee Ball, Wisconsin (2009-12). The 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist and 2012 Doak Walker Award recipient, Ball scored 38 touchdowns in 2011 (one behind Barry Sanders’ FBS record) and finished his career with an NCAA record 83 scores. He also ran for a total of 5,140 yards.

OL: Robert Gallery, Iowa (1999-2003). He began his career at tight end before morphing into an all-time great at tackle. As a senior in 2003, Gallery was a consensus All-American, the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year and the Outland Trophy winner. He was the No. 2 overall selection in the draft.

OL: Joe Thomas, Wisconsin (2003-06). The massive tackle returned for his senior season and helped the Badgers have the second-highest scoring offense and the fourth-best rushing offense in the Big Ten. Thomas was first-team All-Big Ten, a consensus All-American and the Outland Trophy winner before being picked No. 3 overall.

OL: Greg Eslinger, Minnesota (2002-05). As a senior, the center won the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year award, the Outland Trophy and the Rimington Trophy. Not bad for a kid from North Dakota who had no FBS offers.

OL: Levi Brown, Penn State (2002-06). He arrived as a defensive lineman but flipped sides of the ball. Brown became a dominant blocker and eventual No. 5 overall selection in the NFL draft.

OL: Jake Long, Michigan (2003-07). As a senior, Long was a unanimous All-American and won the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year award for a second year in a row. The tackle subsequently was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

K: Mike Nugent, Ohio State (2001-04). He broke or tied 22 school records. Among them: notching the most points in a career (356). He connected on 72-of-88 field-goal attempts and 140-of-143 extra-point attempts.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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Your Opinion?
Show Comments (33 Comments)
SideWayz on 7/16/2013 @ 1:47pm EDT Said:

Troy Smith over Drew Brees… no way, no how!

SkrFan4Life on 7/16/2013 @ 2:38pm EDT Said:

Eric Crouch?!? Heisman Trophy winner, One of three quarterbacks in Division 1-A history to rush for 3,000 and pass for 4,000 yards in a career, Tied an NCAA record by scoring a TD via run, pass, reception in the same game. He wasn’t a dual threat…more like a triple threat.

C Orem on 7/16/2013 @ 2:43pm EDT Said:

SideWayz. Drew Brees played one year in the 2000’s so yes way. And no way should Mike Hart be on this list. He never showed up in big games and is one of the most overated RB’s in Big Ten history.

TigerHawk on 7/16/2013 @ 3:01pm EDT Said:

@SkrFan4Life I don’t think Nebraska players were considered for this since Nebraska joined in 2011, 2 years past the 2009 cutoff.

BMOHR on 7/16/2013 @ 3:02pm EDT Said:

C Orem: So where in Ohio is your trailer???

Blake Jorgensen™ (@Blake_Jorgensen) on 7/16/2013 @ 3:06pm EDT Said:

Is this more of a career list? Because Shonn Greene’s ’08 season is second to none.

cbeck on 7/16/2013 @ 3:06pm EDT Said:

@ C Orem not sure how you can say he didn’t show up in big games. He had a bad game against osu and usc but then the following year when it was 1 vs 2 for the game he had 150yds and 3 td’s. I think that is showing up. Also in 39 games played 32 of them he was over 100yds and in most cases way over 100. If you asked a college coach in America if the want a back that will give them over 100yds per game and at least 1 score they would all jump at the chance. Hardly overrated in my book.

Jason A on 7/16/2013 @ 3:11pm EDT Said:

Mike Hart overrated with over 5,000 rushing yards and 40+ TD. You sound foolish. You can’t name many people in college football much less the B1G that did better than that in the 2000s.

Michael Inman on 7/16/2013 @ 3:16pm EDT Said:

Mike hart is an excellent choice due to the fact he rushed for over 5000 yards and only fumbled 3 times in his career and went over three years without one! Also holds almost all Michigan records in rushing.

Don on 7/16/2013 @ 3:23pm EDT Said:

Eric Crouch played for Nebraska long before Nebraska was in the Big Ten. Thus, not on list.

Hwkye4life1976 on 7/16/2013 @ 3:42pm EDT Said:

@SkrFan4Life. I wasn’t aware Crouch played in the Big Ten in the 2000’s. Calm down, he was a great player, just a different conference.

C Orem on 7/16/2013 @ 4:06pm EDT Said:

Cbek if your going to give out stats for the OSU games how about you give the other 3? 2004 18 for 61. 2005 9 for 15 yards and 2007 18 for 44 yards so he showed up in 1 big game in his career and OSU was the only big games they played in. But he did play good in that Appalachian St loss

C Orem on 7/16/2013 @ 4:13pm EDT Said:

BMohr right next to your parents house were you live in the basement

Fritz on 7/16/2013 @ 4:40pm EDT Said:

Cripes, Tom. Ball had his huge seasons in ’11 and ’12. Larry Johnson has the 2nd highest single season rushing total in conference history and you pick Montee Ball.

mtn99680 on 7/16/2013 @ 5:43pm EDT Said:

Mike Hart

Rushing Receiving
Season Team GP Att Yds Avg Lng TD Rec Yds Avg Lng TD
2004 Michigan 12 282 1,455 5.2 34 9 26 237 9.1 39 1
2005 Michigan 8 150 662 4.4 64 4 16 154 9.6 34 1
2006 Michigan 13 318 1,562 4.9 54 14 17 125 7.4 31 0
2007 Michigan 10 265 1,361 5.1 61 14 8 50 6.3 11 0
Career totals 43 1,015 5,040 5.0 64 41 67 566 8.4 39 2

I’d take those statistics all day.

Green on 7/16/2013 @ 8:12pm EDT Said:

Gotta love Mike Hart. He definitely had a big mouth. His silly comments changed the course of college football in the state of Michigan. Thanks little sister!

    Michael Inman on 7/16/2013 @ 10:17pm EDT Said:

    Hey Green, sounds like your haten like on Mike Hart like he took you out on a date and never called you again! Hahaha, who sounds like a little sister now? Hahahaha!

    Michael Inman on 7/16/2013 @ 10:34pm EDT Said:

    Also, one final point, out of the Big 10 all time leading rushers, in the top 5, there are two from the 2000s. Montee Ball is 4th and mike Hart is fifth. They are separated by 100 yards. 5140 to 5040. Also don’t forget Denard Robinson is #9 on the all time rushing list!!!! Another great Michigan product. Mike Hart deserves to be there. Just think if he never gotten injured his sophomore year, he would have had over 6000 yards!!! And for quarterbacks’, can’t leave out Chad henne. He was very underrated.

SkrFan4Life on 7/16/2013 @ 10:58pm EDT Said:

They added that second rule after I submitted that comment.

jeff reece on 7/17/2013 @ 12:41am EDT Said:

Greg Eslinger wasn’t even the best center when he was in the Big10! Awards aside Nick Mangold was twice the player and the fact he didn’t win the awards to prove it was a joke! Want proof look at the draft! Nick 1st round Greg 6th. Nick 3x All Pro 4 Pro Bowls, Greg never played a game. Nick was better then and is better now!

Josh from Virginia on 7/17/2013 @ 3:13am EDT Said:

Drop Mike Hart and add Larry Johnson.

Scott on 7/17/2013 @ 11:47am EDT Said:

I think Keading should have gotten the nod over Nugent in a very close battle.

Evan on 7/17/2013 @ 12:22pm EDT Said:

Charles Rogers was better than either of those receivers in college. More um/o$u glorifying.

Mac on 7/17/2013 @ 1:51pm EDT Said:

Evan- Its not like OSU or um were the best teams in the B10 during the decade or anything. All those players are greats, so can be argued but none should be changed. All these peoples complaints are biased.

Jeremy Moranville on 7/17/2013 @ 1:52pm EDT Said:

I could be wrong (and too lazy to look it up) but was dallas clark a JR when he won and left a year early?

doug moore on 7/17/2013 @ 1:53pm EDT Said:

Its not necessarily the choice, but why! Tom: Troy Smith..he won the Heisman ( its become a joke)..led his team to the title game..correct me if I’m wrong..didn’t a guy named Bachman lead the team to the title game the next year & his reward was being benched the next for Prior..& we know how that turned out for Jim & Terrell! Troy was very over rated!

TigerHawk on 7/17/2013 @ 3:36pm EDT Said:

I think Montee Ball shouldn’t be on this list. He’s one hell of a running back, but he only played one season in the 2000-2009 decade. 2010 and on are a part of a different decade. And as Fritz said, that season that was in the 2000-2009 decade was his worst.

    Brent Yarina, BTN.com on 7/17/2013 @ 4:16pm EDT Said:

    This feature is for all of the 2000s, not 2000-10. Hope that helps. Thank you.

Mike on 7/17/2013 @ 7:28pm EDT Said:

Mike Hart? REALLY? Look, Hart put up crazy stats, but anyone who really watches CFB knows that Hart was simply a nice player playing in a phenomenal offense with an incredible offensive line. If Michigan had had ANY depth at RB, Hart would have just been another player.

Laurence Maroney and Marion Barber were both better than Mike Hart. So was Beanie Wells. I’m sure there are others I’ve forgotten.

Mike Hart? Pathetic.

    Michael Inman on 7/17/2013 @ 10:43pm EDT Said:

    To MIKE…19, 44, 38. REMEMBER THOSE NUMBERS. The three running backs you mentioned, those are what place they are in on the big 10 all time rushing list. Mike Hart is 5th. And might I also add he is 13th in NCAA history. Where do your examples fall??? FAR BEHIND. Sorry man, history don’t lie.

Mike on 7/17/2013 @ 7:34pm EDT Said:

Jeff Reece–You’re crazy. I mean you are totally insane.

Greg Eslinger was totally dominant for four years. He was a force as true frosh and he only got better after that. Hence all the national awards/accolades.

Your comment about the NFL draft proves that you know nothing about CFB. Eslinger didn’t get drafted high because he was incredibly undersized for a professional offensive linemen. Glen Mason’s system required the C to pull on most plays and make blocks in space. His lines were always filled with incredible athletes who would have been too small to play in many other systems. Eslinger could run and block in space better than any offensive linemen I’ve ever seen.

If you’re going to comment you should learn something first.

Kyle on 7/17/2013 @ 11:16pm EDT Said:

Why is Ball on this list? Aren’t the 2000s considered 2000-2009? Ball only played one year in the 2000s.

John D. on 7/18/2013 @ 10:59am EDT Said:

Love that Montee Ball pumpup video.!