James Laurinaitis is the most decorated linebacker in Ohio State history, a three-time consensus All-American – one of only eight three-time All-Americans in school history – who played on four Big Ten Conference championship teams. Twice he helped the Buckeyes to the BCS championship game and set a championship game record with 18 tackles in the 2008 title game vs. LSU.
Laurinaitis is one of only three players in the history of the Big Ten Conference to be named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year twice, and he is the only Buckeye to be so named. He won the Bronko Nagurski Award as the nation’s most outstanding defensive player as a sophomore, took home the Butkus Award as America’s top linebacker as a junior and became Ohio State’s first winner of both the Lott IMPACT Trophy and the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award as a senior. He was a finalist 12 times for national awards during that three-year period. Leading Ohio State in tackles as a sophomore, junior and senior, Laurinaitis finished his career with 375 total tackles, seventh-best in Buckeye history. He was a two-time team captain for a defensive unit that led the nation in total defense in 2007 and was among the Top 15 defenses nationally every year he played. He was unbeaten in games vs. Michigan (4-0) and an Academic All-Big Ten selection.
Laurinaitis, a 2009 Ohio State graduate with a degree in communications, was drafted by the NFL’s St. Louis Rams in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He spent seven seasons with the Rams and was the organization’s all-time leading tackler after seven seasons with the club. He also played one season with the New Orleans Saints.