Friday, June 19, 2009

From A to Z: The Greatest Buckeyes of All-Time

by Jeremy Jeffries
BlockONation Contributor

             #27 EDDIE GEORGE

Ohio State has had some of the best players to ever step foot onto a college gridiron.

As you can imagine, this was very hard to pick just one player to represent each letter. I hate to leave any player off the list, because there have been so many great players at Ohio State.

Some of these players everyone has heard of and gotten to see in action, but, there are a few that played so long ago nobody remembers.

Believe me, guys like Chic Harley and Wesley Fesler were amazing players who just happened to play many years ago before there was a Heisman Trophy or huge television deals.

I hope you enjoy the list, and I hope it brings back some memories for my fellow Ohio State fans.

A—Warren Amling

Warren Amling played for Ohio State from 1944-1946. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1984.

Amling was an All-American at guard for the Buckeyes in 1945, than moved to tackle in 1946 and was once again named All-American.

Amling also played basketball for the Buckeyes. He is the only member of the College Football Hall of Fame to start in an NCAA Final Four basketball game.

Honorable Mention: Tim Anderson, Will Allen

B—Keith Byars

Keith Byars was an excellent tailback for the Buckeyes from 1982-1985. In 1984, Byars finished second behind Doug Flutie in the Heisman voting.

Byars gained 2,441 all-purpose yards, including 1,764 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns in that outstanding 1984 season.

Byars finished his career at Ohio State with 4,369 total yards, 3,200 rushing yards, 50 touchdowns. His 50 touchdowns remain second most in OSU history.

Honorable Mention: John Brockington, David Boston.

C—Howard Cassady

Howard "Hopalong" Cassady played for the Buckeyes from 1952-1955.

Cassady won the Heisman trophy in 1955, and was selected as a consensus All-American in 1954 and 1955.

The Buckeyes went 10-0 in 1954 and won a consensus national championship.

Cassady scored 37 touchdowns in only 36 games, and he was also a very good defensive back—a pass was never completed on him in his career at OSU.

Cassady held many records while at Ohio State, including the career rushing record (2,466 yards) which Jim Otis broke in 1969, the career all-purpose yards record (4,403 yards) until he was surpassed by the great Archie Griffin in 1974, and the scoring record (222 points) broke by Pete Johnson in 1975.

Honorable Mention: Cris Carter, Tom Cousineau

D—Mike Doss

Mike Doss was an excellent safety at Ohio State, Doss was a three-time All Big Ten selection and a three-time All-American choice by the Sporting News. He amassed 331 career tackles, eight interceptions, eight fumbles recovered, and six sacks.

His senior season the Ohio State Buckeyes beat the Miami Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl to win the national championship.

Doss was a consensus First Team All-American, a Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award.

Honorable Mention: Na'il Diggs, Van Ness DeCree

E—Bruce Elia

Bruce Elia played fullback and linebacker for Ohio State from 1972-1975. Elia was recruited by Woody Hayes as a fullback than was made into a linebacker.

After an injury to Ohio State's starting fullback Champ Henson in 1973, Elia was moved back to offense and he led the Bucks in scoring (14 touchdowns for 84 points).

In 1974 he was moved back to linebacker and led the team in tackles (144—74 solo, 70 assisted ).

Honorable Mention: Jeff Ellis

F—Wesley Fesler

Wes Fesler was one of the greatest players ever to play for the Buckeyes if not the best to play college football.

In the days before the Heisman Trophy, Fesler was a one-man wrecking crew, playing on the line, and sometimes lining up at running back, wide receiver, and even a little bit at quarterback.

In 1930, Fesler was voted the Most Valuable Player in the Big Ten. He was a three-time All-American (1928, 1929, 1930).

After graduating, Fesler served one year as an assistant on the OSU staff and then was head football coach at Princeton and Penn.

In 1947, he returned to his alma mater as head coach and spent four years at OSU, compiling a 21-13-3 record and winning the 1949 Big Ten Championship and the 1950 Rose Bowl.

Honorable Mention: Luke Fickel, Ken Fritz, Greg Frye

G—Archie Griffin

"G" was tough but ultimately, Archie Griffin gets the nod.

He played for the Buckeyes from 1972-1975 and won the Heisman Trophy in 1974 and again in 1975.

Griffin won four Big Ten Conference titles with Ohio State and was the first player ever to start in four Rose Bowls (Brian Cushing is the only other player to accomplish that feat).

Archie Griffin was so good, his coach Woody Hayes said of him, "He is a better young man than he is a football player, and he's the best football player I've ever seen."

Griffin rushed for 5,589 yards on 924 carries in his four seasons with the Buckeyes.

He had 6,559 all-purpose yards and scored 26 touchdowns. In the four seasons Griffin played for the Buckeyes they went 40-5-1.

Griffin rushed for at least 100 yards in 34 games, including an NCAA record 31 straight games.

Honorable Mention: Eddie George, Joey Galloway, Chris Gamble, Terry Glenn, Ted Ginn

H—Chic Harley

Chic Harley was hands-down the best Ohio State football player ever.

The only problem was Harley only played three seasons and they were back in 1916, 1917, and 1919. Had the Heisman Trophy existed when Harley played, he surely would have won the honor at least twice and perhaps three times. Harley was a consensus All-American all three years he played.

It would be 16 years after his last season that the Heisman Trophy was first awarded to the nation's outstanding college football player.

In 1950, when the Associated Press selected its All-Star college football team of the first half of the 20th century, the well-known running back great Red Grange from Illinois was a second-team selection. The first-team running backs were Carlisle's Jim Thorpe and Ohio State's Chic Harley.

Harley only played in 24 career games for Ohio State but, he scored 23 touchdowns, 39 PATs, 8 fieldgoals for 201 points.

Harley missed the 1918 season to fly a fighter plane during the first World War.

Honorable Mention: The great Les Horvath, A.J Hawk

I—Derek Isaman

There has only been one Ohio State player with a last name starting with an I that I know of, so Derek Isaman, the honor is yours.

He may have been a better professional boxer than football player.

Isaman was the 1988 National Golden Gloves Heavyweight champion. He also lost a points decision to Mike Tyson in a National Golden Gloves semi-final bout.

However, he wasn't a bad football player either.

He was a team captain in 1989, where he played linebacker for the Buckeyes. He was also voted team MVP that season.

J—Vic Janowicz

Victor "Vic" Janowicz was the 1950 Heisman Trophy winner as a junior at The Ohio State University. Vic was a true "all-purpose" player in every sense of the word.

He played running back, quarterback, placekicker, punter, and safety on defense.

Vic's coach Wesley Fesler said, "Vic excelled in every phase of the game. He not only was a great runner, passer, and blocker, he also did all of our kicking, including punting, field goals, quick kicks, kickoffs, and extra points. He was one of the finest, most versatile athletes I have ever seen."

Janowicz had his best year in 1950, accounting for 16 touchdowns and 875 yards in total offense. He also led the Buckeyes in scoring with 65 points.

In an 83-21 win over Iowa, he ran for two touchdowns, passed for four more and set a Big Ten record with 10 extra points. He completed five of six passes for 128 yards against the Hawkeyes (talk about doing it all).

Honorable Mention: Pete Johnson, Malcolm Jenkins, Pepper Johnson, Michael Jenkins

K—Craig Krenzel

Craig Krenzel played quarterback for Ohio State from 2001-2004.

In his first start in 2001, Krenzel led Ohio State to a 26-20 victory at Michigan.

It was the Buckeyes first win in Ann Arbor in 14 years.

In the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, Krenzel led the (14-0) Ohio State Buckeyes to an incredible 31-24 double-overtime victory over highly favored Miami to claim a national championship in what is called by many one of the greatest college football games of all-time.

He capped his career with a second Tostitos Fiesta Bowl victory in 2004 and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player for the second time as well.

He finished his career at OSU with a 24-3 record as a starter.

Honorable Mention: Andy Katzenmoyer, Ike Kelley.

L—James Laurinaitis

James "Little Animal" Laurinaitis played linebacker for Ohio State from 2005-2008.

Laurinaitis was awarded the 2006 Nagurski Trophy, the 2007 Dick Butkus Award, was a two-time Jack Lambert Award winner, and a three-time All-American selection.

2008 was indeed Laurinaitis' best season as a Buckeye.

On top of the numerous awards Laurinaitis received as one of the nation's top linebackers, he also started all thirteen games and became only the fourth player in school history to lead the team in tackles three times in his career.

He ranked second in the Big Ten with an average of 10 tackles per game. He recorded a career-high 130 tackles (52 solo) that included four sacks, seven stops for losses, caused a fumble, deflected four passes, and picked off two others.

Honorable Mention: Jim Lachey

M—Marcus Marek

Marcus Marek played linebacker for Ohio State. A four-year starter from 1979 through 82, Marek made 572 career tackles, edging Tom Cousineau for the all-time lead.

Marek recorded 178 tackles in 1982 (third on the All-Time tackles for a season list), earning him All-American honors.

On senior day against Michigan, Marek made a career-high 21 tackles and intercepted a pass to set up the Buckeyes final score in a 24-14 win.

Marek ranks first in all-time assisted tackles at Ohio State with 316, and his 256 solo stops place him third in that category.

Honorable Mention: Jim Marshall, Tom Matte

N—Mike Nugent

I wouldn't normally add a kicker as one of the greatest Buckeyes ever, but Mike Nugent wasn't just your average run-of-the-mill kicker.

In his four-year career (2001-2004), he broke or tied 22 school records, including most points in a career by any player ever (356), breaking big Pete Johnson's record of 348.

Nugent was a consensus All-American and won the Lou Groza Award in 2004 as the country's best kicker.

Mike Nugent was also a huge reason the Buckeyes captured the national championship in 2002.

Honorable Mention: Donnie Nickey

O—Jim Otis

In all three of his seasons at OSU (1967-1969), Jim Otis led the Ohio State Buckeyes in rushing.

In 1969 he was a consensus first-team All-American.

Otis is second to only Archie Griffin in career rushing yards per game.

He rushed for 2,542 yards in his career, he also scored 102 points in 1968.

The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry was in full swing in 1968 and Jim Otis left his mark. Ohio State took the lead late in the first half and went into the locker room up 21-14.

In the second half, Otis took over the game, rushing for 143 yards and four touchdowns in leading the Bucks to a 50-14 win.

That victory sent Ohio State to the Rose Bowl, where they thrashed O.J. Simpson and his Trojans 27-16, en route to yet another National Championship.

Honorable Mention: Ed Orazen

P—Orlando Pace

Big "O" was/is the best offensive lineman in the history of college football without any doubt.

Pace was only the second true freshman to ever start on opening day for The Ohio State University.

Pace won the Outland Trophy in 1996 for the best interior lineman in college football.

He also won the Lombardi Award for the best college lineman or linebacker in 1995 and again in 1996 (only player ever to win it twice).

He finished fourth in the Heisman race in 1996.

Pace played in 158 games as a Buckeye and he started 154 of them.

He also played on the defensive line in some goal line situations.

Pace was well-known for his "pancake block" as he knocked many a defender on their backs.

He did not allow a sack in his final two seasons at Ohio State.

Honorable Mention: Antonio Pittman, Jim Parker, Bo Pelini

Q—Quinn Pitcock

There are no players in Ohio State history with a last name that starts with a Q, so I had to use a first name.

Quinn Pitcock was a defensive tackle for the Buckeyes from 2003-2006.

Pitcock was a captain for the Buckeyes in 2006 as the Buckeyes went undefeated in the regular season and lost to the University of Florida in the national championship game.

Pitcock was a first team All-American in 2006 and he earned first team All-Big Ten honors the same year.

R—Leo Raskowski

An effective player on both offense and defense, Leo Raskowski played for the Buckeyes from 1926-1928.

He was an All-American for OSU in 1926 and 1927 and was team captain in 1928.

Honorable Mention: Lydell Ross, Ken-yon Rambo, Jerry Rudzinski

S—Troy Smith

Like "G", "S" was also tough to choose the No. 1 guy.

As much as it pains me to say that Troy Smith was better than my personal favorite Buckeye of all-time, Chris Spielman, I have to give Mr. Smith his due.

Troy Smith played QB for the Ohio State Buckeyes from 2003-2006. He took over the starting job in 2004 when Justin Zwick was injured halfway through the season. Smith won four of five games he started in 2004, including a victory over the hated Michigan Wolverines.

In 2005, as the starting quarterback on Jim Tressel's Buckeyes, the team only lost two games, the first to the eventual national champions, the Texas Longhorns, and the other to Penn State.

Smith threw for 2,282 yards and 16 touchdowns with only 4 interceptions. He also rushed for 611 yards and 11 touchdowns.

In 2006, Smith threw for 2,507 yards, with 30 touchdowns and five interceptions. His 2006 season earned him the coveted Heisman Trophy. Smith received 87.7 percent of the first place votes, a Heisman record.

Troy Smith became the first starting OSU Quarterback to beat Michigan three straight times.

Smith earned numerous awards as the Buckeye quarterback including: '06 College Football Player of the year, '06 Fiesta Bowl MVP, '06 Walter Camp Award, '06 Davey O'Brian Award, '06 NCAA quarterback of the year, and '06 Heisman Award.

Honorable Mention: Chris Spielman, Robert Smith, Jim Stillwagon, Art Schlichter, Alonzo Spellman, Korey Stringer

T—Jack Tatum

Jack Tatum played defensive back for the Buckeyes and his ability to lay out a player with devastating authority earned him first team All-Big Ten honors in 1968, 1969, and again in 1970.

In 1969 and 1970, Tatum was a unanimous All-American. In 1970, he was selected as the National Defensive Player of the Year and was in the running for the Heisman Trophy.

In his three seasons at OSU, the Buckeyes went 27-2 and were crowned National Champions in 1968.

With the Oakland Raiders in the NFL, Tatum earned the nickname "The Assassin" because of the unbelievable hits he put on receivers.

Honorable Mention: Steve Tovar, Tom Tupa

U—Jeff Uhlenhake

Jeff Uhlenhake was a four year starter for OSU (1985-1988), playing left guard as a freshman and sophomore and center as a junior and senior.

In his senior season, he was team co-captain and the only Buckeye player to be selected an All-American in 1988.

Honorable Mention: Donald Unverferth

V—Mike Vrabel

A 1995 and '96 All-American defensive end, Mike Vrabel was an excellent player at Ohio State.

He held the OSU record for most sacks in a season (13) until Vernon Gholston recorded his 14th in the 2008 BCS Championship Game against LSU.

In 1995, Vrabel recorded 26 tackles for a loss, the most ever in a season.

He ended his career with a Buckeye record 66 tackles for a loss and the most quarterback sacks with 36.

He was named All-Big Ten in 1994, 1995, and 1996.

W—Bill Willis

Bill Willis was a member of Ohio State's 1942 national championship team. He also earned All-American honors in 1943 and 1944—the first black player at Ohio State to earn such honors.

Willis was a three-year starter playing both on both the offensive and defensive lines.

The Columbus native was a devastating blocker on offense and a punishing, relentless tackler on defense.

“Bill Willis is an inspiration to all Buckeye fans and football fans in general,” said current Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel.

“His career was unparalleled and the class he has always demonstrated is extraordinary. It has been an honor to get to know Mr. Willis.”

Honorable Mention: Chris "Beanie" Wells, Paul Warfield, Dan Wilkinson, Antoine Winfield

X—Rex Kern

Because there has never been a Buckeye player or coach with a name starting with X, I decided if there was one guy who was so close but wasn't quite the top guy under his letter, it had to be Rex Kern.

Kern played quarterback for the Buckeyes from 1968 to 1970.

He led the Buckeyes to an undefeated season and the AP National Championship in 1968.

Kern was the Most Outstanding Player in the 1969 Rose Bowl as his Buckeyes beat O.J Simpson's USC Trojans, 27-16.

Kern was third in the Heisman race in 1969 and was voted an All-American.

He may have actually won the Heisman Trophy in 1969 had the Buckeyes not been upset that year by Michigan in a game in which Kern threw four interceptions and the Buckeyes lost, 24-12.

Kern was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007.

Y—Ashton Youboty

As a true freshman for the Buckeyes in 2003, Youboty notched 14 tackles while playing behind starting cornerback Chris Gamble.

In 2004, Youboty put himself on the map as a bona-fide NFL prospect. He started nine games, intercepting four passes for 89 yards, leading the Big Ten Conference in that category.

Youboty's production dipped in 2005, as he only intercepted one pass, but he still did enough to be honored as an All-Big Ten first-team selection, and he was drafted in the third round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills.

Z—Larry Zelina

Zelina was part of three Big Ten title teams, including the squad that won the 1968 national championship.

He played tailback in 1968 and 1969 alongside the great Jim Otis and in 1970 shared the backfield with John Brockington.

Ohio State's 1969 football team was dubbed by the media as the "greatest college football team of all-time", with a handful of proven All-Big Ten players and All-Americans.

Zelina played with great players such as quarterback Rex Kern, running backs Jim Otis, and John Brockington, wide receivers Jan White and Bruce Jankowski, middle guard Jim Stillwagon, and defensive star Jack Tatum.

Honorable Mention: Justin Zwick

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