ST. MARYS — Anthony Schlegel sees a lot of similarities between the 2006 Ohio State football team and this year’s Buckeyes.
He just hopes the comparisons stop at some point.
“It’s very similar to 2006 but you don’t want the outcome of 2006 (losing to Florida in the national championship game),” the former OSU linebacker said when he spoke at a St. Marys Rotary Club meeting on Wednesday.
This year’s Buckeyes have won their first four games by big margins despite having 16 first-year starters.
In 2006, OSU had nine new starters on defense and was undefeated going into the BCS national championship game. But it did have eight returning starters on offense, including Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr., Anthony Gonzalez and Antonio Pittman.
“I see a lot of similarities,” Schlegel said. “We lost a lot of people — five first-round picks and nine overall — just like they did last year. At the end of the day there are a lot of similarities.”
Schlegel, a middle linebacker, was one of the 2005 senior starters on Ohio State’s defense who had to be replaced. After transferring from Air Force, he started for two years between Bobby Carpenter and A.J. Hawk and totaled 166 tackles, 17.5 tackles for losses and 5.5 sacks.
He was a third-round draft choice of the New York Jets. He played one year for the Jets and finished his pro career by playing a year with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2007.
He was an assistant strength coach at Ohio State from 2011-2014 before getting a master’s degree from OSU’s Fisher College of Business.
He currently is president and a founder of The Difference USA, which markets a training device for football players. Schlegel says 60 NCAA Division I football programs and eight NFL teams use the device, which develops hand placement and striking.
When Schlegel played, he was a flamboyant character, with tales of boar hunting and other outdoor activities making up much of his public image.
He says he has become a more serious, more grounded person since then.
“I did not like school. I started to take my academics seriously when I was 33 years old,” Schlegel said. “I’m still somewhat of a meathead but not nearly the meathead I used to be.”
He still hunts and estimates he has killed around 600 wild pigs and more than 100 deer.
The takedown he is probably most famous for did not take place on any hunting trips and is not one of his 166 official tackles at Ohio State.
In 2014 when Ohio State was playing Cincinnati at Ohio Stadium, a fan ran onto the field and Schlegel reacted by leaving the sideline, putting the trespasser in a head lock and slamming him to the ground.
Video of the hard tackle exploded across the internet, making Schlegel probably more of a household name than he was as an active player.
Schlegel said he was counting to make sure OSU had 11 players on the field when he saw someone run by him.
“All of a sudden this person comes at me. I’m like ‘What’s going on?’” Schlegel said.
“Our head strength coach, Mickey Marotti, is standing next to me. I look at him and he looks back. I look back at him. He didn’t say to do anything but I think he kind of insinuated it. He gave me one of those eye brows, like are you going to do something about this?
“So I went out there in khakis and took that guy down,” he said.
While that body slam might have become Schlegel’s greatest hit in many people’s minds, there are actual game hits that might top his personal list.
“I would say probably the 2005 Michigan game. I don’t know if there was a big hit but Michael Hart had something like 11 yards on 10 carries and there were a couple times where I just stuffed him. And I remember in the NFL there was a time where I was in on a kickoff and was all jacked up and came down and just blew somebody up. That was awesome,” he said.
Schlegel thinks if Ohio State gets past Indiana this Saturday at home, a trip to Wisconsin the next week could be a defining moment for this year’s team.
“Obviously, the Wisconsin game at Wisconsin at night will be fantastic. I think after that game we’ll know exactly where they stand,” he said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.
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