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It has been more than four years since quarterback Craig Krenzel led Ohio State to its first national championship in 35 years, but he said he still does not fully grasp the magnitude of the feat.
"Maybe in 10 or 20 years it will sink in," said Krenzel, who was at the Pinnacle in Maumee last night as guest speaker for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. "It was a great opportunity and it takes a while to understand what it meant."
Krenzel guided the Buckeyes to a 14-0 record and a national championship in 2002. Krenzel was named MVP of the Fiesta Bowl after rushing for 81 yards and scoring two touchdowns in a win over Miami.
"The best part was the guys I got to play with," Krenzel said. "When you have the ball rolling like that, there's not a better place to be than Columbus, Ohio."
Krenzel helped honor local high school coaches and athletes last night at the Northwest Ohio FCA's annual Spirit of Sports Dinner.
"Craig has been living the life of Christ on and off the field for many years," said Richard Isaiah, director of the organization.
Krenzel said he still hopes to be on an NFL football field. He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2004 NFL draft by Chicago and started five games for the Bears, throwing for 718 yards and three touchdowns. But he also threw six interceptions.
Krenzel won his first three starts, but lost his final two and injured his ankle, ending his season. After being cut by the Bears, he signed with Cincinnati in 2005. But he suffered an elbow injury and was waived in May last year. Krenzel said he had major reconstructive surgery in September.
"Football right now is on the back burner," Krenzel said. "I'm still rehabbing an elbow injury. It's going well. I should know in the next month or two. I want to see if there is interest and I want to try to give it one last chance."
Krenzel posted a 24-3 record at Ohio State and amassed 5,097 yards of total offense, which is the ninth-best in school history. He said he attended the national championship game when the Buckeyes were trounced by Florida last January.
"Obviously I wanted to see a better outcome," Krenzel said. "It was a combination of things. We may not have been as ready as we should have and we did not execute."
But Krenzel said he was impressed that nearly 75,000 fans showed up for Ohio State's spring game last month.
"It is a tribute to our fans," he said. "Ohio State football is what it is because of the fans. Having 75,000 people at a spring game is relatively unheard of. It just goes to show how much fans love Ohio State football."
Krenzel said he gives the early edge to junior quarterback Todd Boeckman to replace Troy Smith, who has moved on to the NFL.
"Todd gives them the best chance in terms of knowing the offense and how to take care of the football," he said. "But there are three guys that will have a chance to impress the coaches."
Krenzel, who grew up in Sterling Heights, Mich., said both Michigan and Michigan State recruited him.
"I was a big Notre Dame fan when I was younger," Krenzel said. "But then I just started enjoying the game. I didn't have a favorite team. Ohio State felt like the best fit. It is a good school. Michigan and Michigan State were just too close. I wanted to get away from all my high school friends and meet new people and do the college thing."
Krenzel is currently selling commercial real estate in Columbus and is in business with another former Buckeye quarterback, Bobby Hoying. Krenzel has spoken at FCA events going back to his days at Ohio State.
"Kids are very moldable at this age," he said. "This organization takes kids and sets their hearts in the right place."
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