The Greatest Buckeyes of All Time From A to Z
These are the greatest Ohio State football players of all-time.
The Buckeyes have had some of the best players to ever step foot onto a college gridiron. So as you can imagine, it 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: Ken Fritz, Greg Frye
G - Archie Griffin
As you can imagine this particular letter was extremely hard to choose, with the likes of Archie, Eddie George, Joey Galloway, and Terry Glenn.
I had to choose one and Griffin is quite deserving.
Archie Griffin played for the Buckeyes from 1972-1975. He 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, Terry Glenn.
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.
There has only been one Ohio State player with a last name starting with an I.
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 an a prior National Golden Gloves semifinal.
However, he was a good football player as well. He was a team captain in 1989, where he played linebacker for the Buckeyes.
He was voted team MVP in 1989.
Victor "Vic" Janowicz was the 1950 Heisman Trophy winner as a junior at The Ohio State University. Vic was a triple-threat player, he played running back, quarterback, placekicker, punter, and he 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.
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. 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.
In the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, Krenzel led the 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.
Honorable Mention: Andy Katzenmoyer, Ike Kelley. (Rex Kern is used later in the list)
James "Little Animal" Laurinaitis played linebacker for Ohio State from 2005-2008. Laurinaitis was awarded the 2006 Nagurski Trophy, the 2007 Dick Butkus Award given to the nations top linebacker, was a two-time Jack Lambert Award winner, and a three-time All-American.
2008 was indeed Laurinaitis' best season as a Buckeye, and on top off several awards given to the top linebacker that Laurinaitis received in 2008, he also started all thirteen games, becoming 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 passes.
Honorable Mention: Jim Lachey
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 points 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
I wouldn't normally add a kicker as one of the greatest Buckeyes ever, but, Mike Nugent wasn't a normal 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 a huge reason the Buckeyes captured the national championship in 2002.
Honorable Mention: Donnie Nickey
From 1967-1969 Jim Otis led the Ohio State Buckeyes in rushing; that is every season in which Jim Otis played college football.
In 1969 he was a consensus first-team All-American.
Otis is second to only Archie Griffin in career rushing yards per game.
Otis 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. Jim Otis left his mark. Ohio State took the lead late in the first half and went into the locker room up 21-14.
Otis in the second half, rushed for 143 yards and four touchdowns, to give the Bucks a 50-14 win. The win sent Ohio State to the Rose Bowl, where they thrashed O.J. Simpson and his Trojans 27-16.
Honorable Mention: Ed Orazen
The best offensive lineman in the history of college football without any doubt.
Pace was only the second true freshman to 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). Pace 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 known for his "pancake block", that is when an offensive lineman knocks a defender on their back. Pace did not allow a sack in his final two seasons at Ohio State.
Honorable Mention: Jim Parker
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.
Leo Raskowski was an All-American in 1926 and '27. Effective on both offense and defense, he played for the Buckeyes from 1926-1928.
Leo was the team captain in 1928.
Honorable Mention: Lydell Ross, Ken-yon Rambo, Jerry Rudzinski
As much as it pains me to say that Troy Smith was better than my personal favorite Buckeye of all time Chris Spielman, I guess I will give Mr. Smith his due.
Troy Smith played Quarterback 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 champs, 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, Jim Stillwagon, Art Schlichter.
Jack Tatum played defensive back for the Buckeyes and his ability to lay out a player with devastating hits 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 with two appearances in the national championship coming away with one win 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 (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 All-American in 1988.
Honorable Mention: Donald Unverferth
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. He also ended his career with the most quarterback sacks with 36.
He was named All-Big Ten in 1994, '95, and '96.
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. A Buckeye lineman from 1942-44, Willis was a three-year starter playing both offense and defense. 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 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 went with the next best thing Rex Kern.
Rex Kern played quarterback for the Buckeyes from 1968 to 1970. Kern led the Buckeyes to an undefeated season in 1968 a season that ended with a national championship for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
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 also third in the Heisman race in 1969, he settled for All-American honors. Kern may have won the Heisman Trophy in 1969 if the Buckeyes were not upset by Michigan 24-12, a game in which Kern threw four interceptions.
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, who's now a starter for the Carolina Panthers.
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 it was enough to get him named as an All-Big Ten first-team selection.
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, 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