No ignoring Pittman's contributions
Published: Monday, January 8, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 8, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Antonio Pittman is a forgotten man.
Ohio State's top three
· 1. Archie Griffin (RB, 1972-1975): A two-time Heisman winner (1974-75) who led Ohio State to a 40-5-1 record and four Big Ten titles. Griffin, a three-time All-American, set NCAA records for 100-yard games (33) and consecutive 100-yard games (31).
· 2. Eddie George (RB, 1992-95) : In becoming Ohio State's sixth Heisman winner, George etched his name into the OSU record book by rushing for a school-record 1,927 yards and 24 touchdowns in 1995.
· 3. Orlando Pace (LT, 1994-96): Recognized as one of the best offensive linemen ever to play in college. Pace did not allow a sack in either of his final two seasons and was the 1995 and '96 Lombardi Award winner.
Which is surprising considering Ohio State's junior tailback is one of the top rushers in the country and is the catalyst of Ohio State's high-powered offense.
Pittman, though, has spent much of this season playing in some pretty big shadows. Teammates Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez have absorbed much of the attention while Pittman has quietly become one of the top rushers in the Big Ten and the nation.
"It's tough when you got the Heisman winner in the backfield with you," offensive tackle T.J. Downing said. "He's the best tailback in the country. It's hard for him to get his deserving credit."
Pittman is a 5-foot-11, 205-pound native of Akron, Ohio. He became just the fifth Buckeye to post for back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons after rushing for 1,171 yards this season. Pittman rushed for 1,331 yards last year.
He joins an elite group that includes Keith Byars, Tim Spencer, Archie Griffin and Eddie George, the 1995 Heisman winner.
Despite these achievements, Pittman has been overlooked this year due to the Buckeyes high-powered passing attack. Defensive back Antonio Smith explains that Pittman is not bothered by that fact.
"We have one of the greatest offenses in the country," Smith said. "We don't take individual notices. We work as a team."
Downing says the lack of attention given to Pittman fits his personality.
"Antonio is a good guy, laid back," Downing said. " He's a little reserved. He doesn't get too crazy, but you know on gameday you can always rely on him."
Pittman will be going against the Gators' stout rush defense, which ranks second nationally, giving up 74.5 yards per game. Then again, Michigan was giving up just over 42 yards rushing per game before Pittman rushed for 139 yards against the Wolverines. It was his seventh, 100-yard game this season.
Defensive back Antonio Smith, who has been going against Pittman the past three years in practice, describes Pittman as a strong, fast runner.
"He runs especially hard. Great vision. Break away speed," Smith said. "When he gets in the open field he's going to score."
Pittman was one of four Ohio State juniors to submit paperwork to the NFL advisory committee to see where he might go in this year's NFL Draft.
Pittman said he is waiting until after tonight's BCS title game to decide.
Contact Brandon Zimmerman at 374-5051 or email@example.com.
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