2006 Ohio State Football: Where Are They Now – Defense and Coaches

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The 2006 Ohio State football team played for a national championship 15 seasons ago, though it seems like only a few years.

Ted Ginn Jr. announced his retirement last week, leaving only one other member of that team still on an active NFL roster. In fact, if you don’t count players that have had their football careers interrupted by a stint in minor league baseball, then the only active NFL player from the 2007 National Championship Game was the anchor on Ohio State’s defense.

We already looked at where some of the offensive players are now. But some of the coaching staff and defensive players from the 2006 Ohio State football team have gone on to some interesting things in the last 15 years.

Here’s a look at where the coaches and defensive players are now.

2006 Ohio State Football: Where are the Coaches and Defense Now?

Jim Tressel

The head coach, Jim Tressel, would return to the National Championship Game the next year, losing to LSU in the 2007 championship. He was forced to resign under a cloud of controversy after the 2010 season and left college football for good.

Ironically, Tressel’s replacement would be Urban Meyer, the head coach that he sparred against in the 2006 National Championship Game.

Tressel served as an administrator at Akron before becoming the president of Youngstown State in 2013, where he is today.

Tressel won 106 games (94 excluding the vacated games in 2010), which remains third in school history. His winning percentage of .828 was second in school history at the time of his resignation, though Meyer since surpassed it and Ryan Day currently has a program-leading .920 percentage.

Luke Fickell

A player for the Buckeyes in the 1990s, Luke Fickell was the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in 2006.

He kept that role until 2011 when he was named interim head coach after Tressel’s resignation. Though he was not retained as the full-time head coach, Meyer kept Fickell on his staff until 2016.

In 2017, Fickell became the head coach of Cincinnati, a team that he defeated 37-7 in 2006. He inherited a 4-8 team from Tommy Tuberville but has turned Bearcats into a top-25 program. Some even made the case for Cincinnati to make the College Football Playoff in 2020, but they instead played a close game against Georgia in the Peach Bowl.

Vernon Gholston

Vernon Gholston was a redshirt freshman for Ohio State in 2006. He led the team with 8.5 sacks, including the only sack Tim Tebow took in the title game. In 2007, he recorded 14 sacks, which would remain a school record until Chase Young’s 16.5 in 2019.

His 37 bench reps at the 2008 NFL combined tied the record and sent him towards the top of the draft board. The Jets selected him sixth overall in 2008, but head coach Eric Mangini was fired at the end of the season. New head coach Rex Ryan installed a new defensive scheme, but it didn’t suit Gholston very well. The Jets released him after three seasons, with only 18 tackles and no sacks in his entire career.

Gholston established Anew Wellness in Somerset, New Jersey in 2014, which focuses on the treatment of mental illnesses and substance abuse. 

Quinn Pitcock

Senior defensive lineman Quin Pitcock was a consensus All-American in 2006 and went to the Colts with the 98th overall pick of the 2007 draft. He played for one year and recorded one and a half sacks.

Pitcock retired after only one year due to depression and video game addiction. He tried getting back into the NFL in 2010 but instead landed in the Arena Football League. He played for the Orlando Predators from 2012-2013 and was traded to the Arizona Rattlers. The Rattlers won the Arena Bowl that year in Cleveland.

Pitcock settled back in Indianapolis and currently works in real estate and home improvement.

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James Laurinaitis

James Laurinaitis was promising as a freshman but broke out as a sophomore in 2006. He recorded 115 total tackles, four sacks, and led the team with five interceptions. Laurinaitis recorded 15 tackles in the title game against Florida. That year, he won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and was named a Consensus All-American.

In 2007-08, he would add two more Consensus All-American selections, two Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year awards, a Butkus Award, and a Lott award. He left Ohio State with 375 tackles, seventh-most all-time in Columbus.

The Rams selected him in the second round in 2009, and he was named the starter on Day One. He would go on to start 112 consecutive games for the Rams, starting every game he played in while in St. Louis. He recorded 100 or more combined tackles every season with the Rams and led the NFL in solo tackles in 2012.

He did not make the move out to Los Angeles, as the Rams released him right after the 2015 season. Laurinaitis had 654 tackles with the Rams, the most in franchise history.

In 2016, he appeared in five games for the Saints. He retired in 2017 and is now an analyst for the Big Ten Network and WBNS.

Marcus Freeman

Marcus Freeman wasn’t a star for Ohio State for most of the 2006 season, but he recorded 15 total tackles against Florida. He played alongside Laurinaitis until he went undrafted in 2009.

Freeman retired from playing in 2010 and began coaching. He coached linebackers for Kent State and Purdue, becoming the co-defensive coordinator for the Boilermakers in 2016.

In 2017, Fickell hired him as the linebackers coach and defensive coordinator for Cincinnati. The Bearcats’ defense was one of the best in college football last season, so Freeman became a hot commodity. He joined the Notre Dame staff as the defensive coordinator this offseason.

Malcolm Jenkins

The last active player from the 2006 Ohio State football team, Malcolm Jenkins is currently the starting safety for the New Orleans Saints.

Though Jenkins was only a sophomore in 2006, he started at cornerback four interceptions.

The Saints changed his position after taking him 14th overall in 2009, the year they went to Super Bowl XLIV. Though he was a backup in that game, he still had five solo tackles in the Saints’ victory over the Colts.

Thanks to the significant depth at cornerback and a lack of depth at safety, Jenkins was inserted at free safety in 2010, where he entrenched himself for the remainder of his tenure with the Saints. Jenkins signed with the Eagles in 2014 and helped the team win Super Bowl LII. 

Jenkins went back to New Orleans in 2020 after Sean Payton admitted he made a mistake letting him walk in 2014.

Since Jenkins was one of the youngest starters in the 2006 title game, he is the last one projected to be a starter in 2021. Only he and Tim Tebow are still on an active NFL roster. Jenkins is under contract until 2023, so the 33-year-old could stick around for a few more years.