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The Suburbanite
  • Four Buckeyes hope to help 49ers to Super Bowl win

  • California, here they come. At least, here come four Ohio State players, trying to help the San Francisco 49ers win a Super Bowl.

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  • Ted Ginn Jr. has a two-part dream.
    Part one: Score an early touchdown, just as he did for Ohio State that day.
    Part two: Finish the game this time.
    Ginn, a comet from Cleveland Glenville High School, is one of the fastest players ever to suit up for the Buckeyes.
    On Jan. 8, 2007, in the BCS national championship game against Urban Meyer’s Florida Gators, he blazed 93 yards for a touchdown on the opening kickoff. The stunner turned bummer after teammate Roy Hall inflicted a sprained ankle on Ginn after charging him in celebration.
    Ginn’s day was wrecked, and so was Ohio State’s. Meyer’s Gators rolled 41-14.
    It was a crazy way for Ginn to go out. It was his last game as a Buckeye. On April 2 that year, Ohio State’s basketball team fell to Florida in another NCAA title game. On April 29, the Miami Dolphins grabbed Ginn with the ninth overall pick of the NFL draft.
    Ginn has faded from the limelight since then, but he has a chance to burst back big time. He is the 49ers’ punt returner. He is in his first “national championship game” since 2007.
    Ginn can’t do against Baltimore in Sunday’s Super Bowl what he did against Florida: Return the opening kick for a touchdown. Rookie LaMichael James handles kickoff returns.
    Ginn, however, is the 49ers’ punt returner.
    “I’ve thought about it for sure, definitely,” Ginn said of returning a punt for a TD.
    Ginn doesn’t warm to the topic of the 2007 BCS title game. He was much more eager to talk about the Big 33 all-star game following his senior year at Glenville.
    “I got MVP,” he said with a big grin, diamond studs glistening on his ear lobes. “We (Ohio’s players and Pennsylvania’s) couldn’t stop fighting each other.”
    Ginn hasn’t been the NFL player that was envisioned. He has 161 catches for 2,048 yards in his career, but he made just two catches in 2012, his third year with the 49ers.
    He is, however, a key man on special teams, and the 49ers might not have attracted key free agent Donte Whitner without him.
    Whitner, a safety who was elected to the Pro Bowl in his first year with the 49ers, was Ginn’s teammate at Glenville and at Ohio State.
    “Ted might be the fastest guy I’ve played with,” Whitner said, “but it’s funny ... he used to be one of the slowest.
    “He wasn’t (that fast) until maybe his sophomore year in high school. Then he started working at it and doing things with his diet.”
    Ginn and Whitner were AFC East rivals for a while, Ginn playing for Miami, Whitner for Buffalo as the No. 8 overall pick of the 2006 draft.
    Page 2 of 2 - Getting to the Super Bowl has been quite a journey for Whitner.
    He was 6 years old when he was struck by a car while chasing a loose football down the street. His legs were so severely broken that he was told he might not walk again.
    He spent three months in a full body cast.
    “It’s a blessing to be here,” Whitner said. “Believe me.”
    Believe it or not, the Super Bowl team from California has more Ohio State players on its roster than any other NFL team. The other two are starting right guard Alex Boone and backup linebacker Larry Grant.
    The Browns and Bengals employed two Ohio State guys combined in 2012, both with Cincinnati (Nate Clements, Mike Nugent). The 49ers’ Super Bowl opponent, Baltimore, is without any Ohio State guys.
    “We’re pretty proud of being here representing the Buckeyes,” Whitner said. “We’re not just doing it for our team and for ourselves.
    “We want to do this for Ohio.”