Mike DeMaria in 1999.
As a criminal defense attorney practicing on his own, Michael DeMaria benefits from a dependable icebreaker with potential clients. “It’s pretty easy to get a conversation going over your playing career at Ohio State,” he said. “And, oh yeah, remember that ’02 national championship team?”
The Cardinal Stritch graduate was on it, and his underdog story still captivates a decade later.
DeMaria broke out along with OSU that fall.
After bypassing offers from Mount Union and other smaller colleges to walk on to OSU in 2000, the 5-foot-9, 190-pound former all-district running back and linebacker did not play a single down his first two seasons. But in 2002, his stubborn effort as a scout-team running back caught the attention of defensive coordinator Mark Dantonio.
“They saw every day I was giving it my all against the best defense in the country and competing with those guys,” he said. “They felt I had to be on the field in some capacity, and that capacity was special teams.”
DeMaria called the day he saw his name atop the depth chart for the kickoff and punt coverage team as OSU prepared to host San Jose State “one of the best moments of my life.”
He would not relinquish his spot. By his senior year, DeMaria had earned a scholarship, recognition as the team’s most inspirational player, and a glowing recommendation letter for law school from coach Jim Tressel.
DeMaria graduated from Capital University and now specializes in criminal, civil, and domestic litigation. He lives in Columbus but practices in both central and northwest Ohio.