Uhlenhake Named Honorary Captain for Big Ten Opener
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Former Ohio State center Jeff Uhlenhake won’t have to travel far to serve as the team’s honorary captain this weekend for the start of Big Ten play.
The former All-American and 10-year NFL veteran won’t even have to change his usual Saturday routine. He has served as the Buckeyes’ strength coordinator since returning to the team in 2007 after a two-year stint with the Cleveland Browns.
Before that Uhlenhake served as Ohio State’s offensive quality control coach in 2003, but left to become Mark Danontio’s offensive line coach at Cincinnati in 2004.
The Buckeyes face Dantonio’s current team, Michigan State, Saturday in their conference opener at Ohio Stadium. Dantonio served as Ohio State’s defensive coordinator under Jim Tressel from 2001-03.
Uhlenhake is more familiar to Buckeye fans for his time as a player. The Newark, Ohio native was a four-year starter and first-team All-American center for the Buckeyes in 1988.
He was also elected as a captain on the ’88 team, which was John Cooper’s first as the head coach at Ohio State. The Buckeyes were only 4-6-1 that year, but Uhlenhake made a name for himself as one of the toughest players in the conference.
A four-year starter at center, Uhlenhake earned his second all-Big Ten honor that season and was voted as Ohio State’s Most Valuable Player.
Uhlenhake was selected in the fifth round of the 1989 NFL Draft and spent 10 seasons in the league with the Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints and finally the Washington Redskins.
He started 112 out of his 119 games in the NFL before retiring in 1998. Two years later, he became the offensive line coach at Centreville High School in Centreville, Va., where he helped the team to a state championship.
He spent the next two years as the athletics director and head football coach at Lehman Catholic High School in Sidney, Ohio before joining Tressel’s staff as the offensive quality control coach in 2003.
In 2008, Uhlenhake was inducted into the Ohio State Varsity O Hall of Fame.
This is his third time serving as the team’s honorary captain. The Buckeyes are 2-0 in those games, with victories over Northwestern in 2001 and Toledo in 2009 at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
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