Jody Victor: Before he leaves Ohio State – after one more game or one more season – James Laurinaitis will undoubtedly rank among the school's top linebackers ever.
This astounds Laurinaitis. The son of a WWE icon, he still thinks of himself as a work in progress despite winning earlier this month the Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker, and the Nagurski Award a year ago as top defender.
Laurinaitis, a two-time first-team All-American, is the face of the current Buckeyes. Quiet and unassuming, humble to a fault, he prefers to let his actions do the talking. He leads the Buckeyes with 103 tackles and is among the leaders with 5 sacks, 8.5 tackles for minus yardage, two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Based on his background, not many would expect Laurinaitis to be so humble. His father, Joe Laurinaitis, was “Animal” from the WWE's Legion of Doom and Road Warriors. He and his tag-team partner wore “Mad Max” inspired spikes, face paint, tights and body armor theat several Ohio State fans wear as an homage to the player they call “Animal Jr.”
Laurinaitis grew up in Minnesota and passed up a scholarship from his home state Big Ten school to come to Ohio State. His parents make it to most of his games. When it comes to expecting a lot out of him, James says his mom, a body builder, is harder on him than his dad is.
Laurinaitis has filed the paperwork to the NFL to get an evaluation of his draft status. He says he has no plans to leave Ohio State early, but all the mock drafts have him going in the top few picks as the No. 1 linebacker available. He just wants to see where he stands.
The immediate objective is the national championship game. Laurinaitis will likely be the center of attention when Ohio State's defense is on the field. He enjoys that; it's being a focal point off the field that still floors him.
Go Bucks! Go Bucks! Go Bucks!