Ohio State Football: Ranking the 50 Greatest Players in Buckeye Football History
Ohio State has one of the richest football traditions in all of college football.
While we have done a top 50 list in the past, there are always some changes to the list as new players come in, and our methods of evaluating who's better than who change as well.
And with so many talented players in the history of Ohio State football, there are bound to be a large amount of disagreements between fans.
But what they can agree on is the quality of the best players the school has produced in the past century.
Here are the 50 greatest Ohio State Buckeyes in school history.
50. John Frank, TE, 1980-1983
Ohio State has never been a school historically known for producing quality tight ends.
But they have had some good ones in the past, and probably none better than John Frank.
Frank is the career leader in TE receptions (121) and yards (1,481) and was the 1983 team MVP.
A two-time All-American and a Rhodes Scholar nominee, Frank remains in a class by himself among tight ends at Ohio State.
49. Terry Glenn, WR 1993-1995
When John Cooper came to the Buckeyes in the late 1980s, he brought in a lot of top-name offensive weapons, and Terry Glenn was among the best.
Glenn was the first and remains the only Ohio State winner of the Biletnikoff Award, given to the best WR in the country, which he won in 1995.
That season, he was one of four All-Americans including Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George and part of what was a dominant offensive group.
If that team was able to beat Michigan that season, 1995 may have been one of the greatest seasons in school history. Glenn was selected No. 7 overall in the 1996 NFL Draft as a result of his success.
48. David Boston, WR 1996-1998
The shoes of Terry Glenn were hard to fill, and in his place came another talented receiver in David Boston.
Boston is among the career record holders of receptions with 191 for 2,836 yards and 36 touchdowns.
A member of the All-Century Team, Boston's most famous catch was without a doubt his game-winner against the Arizona State Sun Devils in the 1997 Rose Bowl with only 19 seconds to play.
47. Santonio Holmes, WR 2003-2005
One of the newcomers to this list is probably the most complete Ohio State receiver of the 21st century in Santonio Holmes.
The only Ohio State player to be named Super Bowl MVP, Holmes had a spectacular career as a speed receiver, hauling in 240 passes with nearly 3,500 all-purpose yards and 25 TD receptions, good for third all time in school history.
Holmes and Ted Ginn were quite a dynamic duo, as they shared the spotlight as Ohio State lit up Notre Dame's defense for well over 600 yards of total offense in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl.
Santonio has already made a name for himself in the NFL and is one of the more underrated wideouts in football.
46. Pete Johnson, FB 1973-1976
Pete Johnson may be the best OSU running back who nobody remembers because of who he lined up in the backfield with: Archie Griffin.
When Griffin won his second Heisman Trophy in 1975, Johnson was not so bad either, rushing for over 1,000 yards and setting a single-season school record with 25 touchdowns.
He finished his career second in points behind Mike Nugent with 348, 2,308 yards and a school-record 58 touchdowns.
Were Johnson to play in a different era, he might be more renown instead of being in Archie's shadow.
45. Jim Marshall, T 1956-1958
Before Jim Marshall got confused about which direction he needs to run in the pros, he was a very good lineman at Ohio State in the 1950s.
Marshall was a star of three great teams, including the 1957 national championship squad.
In 1958, Marshall was one of three All-Americans before he moved on to a great professional career with the Minnesota Vikings.
44. Bob Ferguson, FB 1959-1961
Bob Ferguson may be the greatest fullback in the history of Ohio State football, right up there with Jim Otis.
Ferguson was a Heisman runner-up in 1961 to Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. Ferguson won the Maxwell Award that season.
He ran for 2,162 yards in three seasons and was never thrown for a single loss in his collegiate career.
43. Mike Brewster, C 2008-Present
Mike Brewster is the only current player on the team to make the top-50 list and could end up being a better center than Nick Mangold was just a few years ago.
Brewster is a very cerebral player and is a great leader on the offensive line for the Buckeyes.
He stepped into the starting role in his fourth collegiate game his freshman season and has held it down ever since.
Brewster is without a doubt the gem of the infamous Brew Crew of 2008, and he's really the only player that has both lived up to his billing and not been riddled by injury or suspension.
42. LeCharles Bentley, C 1998-2001
LeCharles Bentley may have been one of the last great linemen that Ohio State has produced in the past few seasons.
Bentley was a huge contributor in his four years and a two-time All-Big Ten selection.
In 2001, Bentley won the Rimington Award for being the nation's best center and was first-team All-American.
Unfortunately, his pro career was cut short due to career-ending knee injuries.
But regardless of the injuries, he was one of the best interior linemen OSU has produced in the last 30 years.
41. Mike Sensibaugh, DB 1968-1970
Mike Sensibaugh was one of the members of the famous Super Sophs from the 1968 season, but he's not as well known as some of his teammates.
Sensibaugh may be one of the best players not too many people know about, as he holds the mark for career interceptions in school history with 22 and most in a season with nine.
A member of the All-Century team, he was one of six All-Americans on the 1970 team, Woody Hayes' last national championship team.
40. Chris Gamble, DB/WR 2001-2003
Chris Gamble was the definition of an ironman in his Ohio State career and is probably the last two-way player at a major college football program.
Gamble was a third-team All-American in 2002 being a corner, receiver and kick returner.
But he stepped up huge in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl for Ohio State in helping to pull off one of the more stunning and controversial upsets in college football history by knocking off the Miami dynasty.
He finished his three-year career with eight interceptions, 21 pass breakups and 605 receiving yards before moving over to DB full-time in the NFL.
39. Jim Parker, G 1954-56
Parker was among the group of physical linemen who helped Woody Hayes launch a dominant era of Buckeye football.
He helped lead Ohio State to Hayes' first national title in 1954 and was a two-time All-American guard.
Parker was the Outland Trophy winner in 1956, cementing his legacy as one of Ohio State's top interior offensive linemen.
38. James Laurinaitis, LB 2005-2008
When it comes to Ohio State football, the middle linebacker position is one of deep history that is filled with very talented athletes.
The most recent example of a star defensive leader was James Laurinaitis, the son of a former professional wrestler, who for three years was a force in the middle of the Silver Bullet defense.
Laurinaitis won many defensive accolades, including being named a three-time All-American, as well as winning the Nagurski Award in 2006 as best defensive player in the country and the Butkus Award in 2007 for top LB.
In his career, he racked up 365 tackles, 15 sacks and nine interceptions, but he will be best remembered as being a great leader.
However, his legacy along with that of the next player on this list is somewhat tarnished for losing in back-to-back BCS National Championship Games, in 2007 to Florida and 2008 to LSU.
37. Malcolm Jenkins, DB 2005-2008
The other defensive superstar of the mid-2000s alongside Laurinaitis, Malcolm Jenkins was as good a corner as the school has had in the past 20 years.
Jenkins, a three-year starter, was an All-American as a senior in 2008 and won the Jim Thorpe award as the best cornerback in the country.
Like Laurnaitis, Jenkins has a tarnished legacy due to the failure of Ohio State to win big games during his time as a starter.
But Jenkins has become a very good player in the NFL and holds a Super Bowl ring with the 2009 New Orleans Saints.
36. Pepper Johnson, LB 1982-1985
Ohio State has produced talented linebackers like they come off an assembly line, and Pepper Johnson may be among the most underrated of the group.
Johnson was a four-year letterman under Earle Bruce and led the team in tackles in both 1984 and 1985.
He earned All-American status in his senior season in 1985.
After ending his career with 379 tackles, Johnson had himself a solid professional career and has become a good defensive coach.
35. Joey Galloway, WR 1991, 1993-94
Joey Galloway was yet another of the gifted group of receivers that Ohio State produced under John Cooper.
Replacing Cris Carter, Galloway averaged 17.5 yards per reception in his playing career, showing that he was a big play machine.
He was named All-Big Ten in 1993, totaling 946 receiving yards and 11 TDs. Galloway would finish second all-time in TD receptions with 19 and totaled 1,896 receiving yards on his way to becoming a major force.
Galloway's skills translated into having a very, very long and productive professional career.
34. Mike Doss, SS 1999-2002
When it comes to that legendary 2002 defense, Mike Doss was without a doubt the enforcer and among the best Buckeye safeties ever.
Doss was a three-time All-American and was a very well-rounded safety, showing the ability to both deliver big hits as well as hold his own in coverage.
He finished his career with 331 tackles, eight interceptions and six sacks in 40 games played.
In his last game as a Buckeye, Doss came up with a key interception of Miami QB Ken Dorsey in the Fiesta Bowl, doing his part to win a national championship that night.
33. Will Smith, DE 2000-2003
With any good defense, there must be at least one elite pass rusher to give offensive lines something to worry about.
In 2002 and 2003, that someone was Will Smith.
In 2002, Smith had 5.5 sacks and 12.5 TFLs along with an interception that made him one of the cornerstones of that championship defense.
But he made a name for himself even more in 2003, being awarded All-American honors after recording 10.5 sacks.
He continued his great play in the NFL and is a defensive stud with the New Orleans Saints, with 55.5 sacks in seven seasons as a pro.
32. Mike Vrabel, DE 1993-1996
If young players at Ohio State need to find a model for how hard they need to work defensively, Mike Vrabel would be a pretty good role model.
Vrabel, who is now an assistant coach at OSU, set school records in sacks with 33 along with a massive 66 tackles for a loss in his Buckeye career as a defensive end.
He was named All-Big Ten in his final two seasons and All-American in 1996.
Vrabel then went on to win three Super Bowls as a member of the New England Patriots before retiring and returning to help out a new group of aspiring defensive players.
31. Shawn Springs, DB 1994-1996
As much as Ohio State became a collection of big-time wideouts, the school also started producing great corners en masse in the 1990s, and Shawn Springs was among the best—if not the best.
Springs was redshirted his freshman season but started 37 straight games and became a mainstay of the Silver Bullet secondary.
He was named as Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 1996 and was drafted with the third overall pick in the subsequent NFL Draft to the Seattle Seahawks.
When it came to physically-gifted corners, Springs was as good as they come.
30. Dan Wilkinson, DT 1992-1993
Although "Big Daddy" Dan Wilkinson was a huge bust in the NFL, the skills he displayed in his two seasons at Ohio State showed why he was worthy of being drafted first overall in 1994.
Wilkinson recorded 90 tackles from his DT position in his two seasons, at a position where it's rare to rack up a lot of tackles, and stuffed the run well with 23.5 TFLs.
He was named All-Big Ten in each of his two seasons and was an All-American in his final season of 1993.
Wilkinson may have been the best defensive tackle in the modern era of Ohio State football, but current Buckeye Johnathan Hankins may have something to say about that before his time as a Buckeye is through.
29. Terrelle Pryor, QB 2008-2010
This may be the biggest shock of the list and the most controversial choice, but his placement here is mostly due to what Ohio State has looked like since he has left.
Pryor's work on the field is undeniably strong, as he only lost four games as a starter and was dynamic at escaping and making things happen when everything in front of him broke down.
A two-time BCS bowl MVP (although his Sugar Bowl MVP is invalid due to the game being vacated), Pryor finished his career with over 6,000 passing yards, over 2,000 rushing yards and 76 total touchdowns.
He may be much higher on this list if his personal transgressions didn't cost him the rest of his Buckeye career.
In a way, his crimes may be much, much worse than Maurice Clarett, because we all saw what Pryor was on the field before he was gone.
But there is no doubt about the impact he left on the team because of what the offense has looked like this season, although Jim Tressel's firing has plenty to do with it as well.
28. Antoine Winfield, DB 1995-1998
Don't judge a corner by his size, because despite the fact that Antoine Winfield was only 5'9'', he may have been the most physical corner Ohio State has ever had.
Winfield was very much a lethal shutdown corner due to his speed and pure physicality.
He won All-American honors in 1997 and 1998, as well as the Jim Thorpe Award in 1998 because of his ability to lay receivers out and make big plays out of the secondary.
Winfield has been very prosperous in the NFL, in his long career as a Minnesota Viking, creating havoc for opposing receivers.
27. John Hicks, OT 1970, 1972-73
John Hicks was a whole lot of mean and a whole lot of physical in his time at Ohio State as a dominant run-blocker for the ground-and-pound attack that Woody Hayes made legendary.
Hicks missed the 1971 season due to a knee injury, but he came back strong in 1972 and 1973, earning All-American honors both seasons.
His 1973 season was so great that he finished second overall in the Heisman voting, something that's almost never seen from an offensive lineman.
In his final game, the 1974 Rose Bowl, he helped pave the way for Ohio State to control the ground as they ran for over 300 yards in Pasadena.
Hicks may have been one of the most powerful offensive linemen in the Hayes era, and he's a guy the legendary coach was happy to have on his side.
26. Cameron Heyward, DL 2007-2010
Like it is with Terrelle Pryor, Cameron Heyward is probably rated higher than he should be. But his void in the OSU defense, which has not looked phenomenal this season, puts him up here at this time.
Heyward was a very gifted athlete, blessed with great size, strength and speed to make him a threat at both the end and tackle positions up front.
Heyward was great in big games, including in the 2010 Rose Bowl against Oregon, where he helped to slow down the high-powered spread zone read offense the Ducks perfected during the season.
And he ended his collegiate career with a bang in the (vacated) Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas, where he had 3.5 tackles for loss, a pass breakup and a big sack of Ryan Mallett.
Plain and simple, Heyward was a one-man wrecking crew in his time at Ohio State and was a very consistent force throughout his entire career.
25. Ted Ginn, Jr., WR/KR 2004-2006
There are very few players out there that every time they touch the ball, you expect magic and a big play to happen.
Ted Ginn was that kind of player the second he stepped foot on campus. He returned four punts for touchdowns in his freshman season, including a great return in the big upset over ranked Michigan at the end of the 2004 season.
He had 26 total touchdowns in his career and over 4,000 all-purpose yards as a returner, rusher and receiver in his three seasons.
Unfortunately, this play above, his kickoff return TD against Florida in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game, was the last play he had as a Buckeye, as he broke his foot celebrating the touchdown.
But regardless, Ginn was pure electricity and a game-changer at any time he wanted.
24. Art Schlichter, QB 1978-1981
Terrelle Pryor was certainly not the first star Buckeye to have problems that hurt his legacy.
Art Schlichter is still probably the player with the biggest black eye in Ohio State football history due to his legal problems, which have persisted long after his collegiate career.
But on the field, he was a very good player, setting school-records in career yardage with 7,547 yards and single-game passing with 458 yards against Florida State in 1981.
He was named Big Ten MVP in 1981 and received a good deal of Heisman votes in each of his final three seasons at Ohio State, on his way to being drafted No. 4 overall by the Baltimore Colts.
Unfortunately, Schlichter continues to have legal problems and was sentenced to another 10 years in prison in September for his role in a ticket scam.
23. Jack Tatum, DB 1968-1970
If there was a word to describe the type of player that Jack Tatum was, that would be intimidator.
Tatum was among the most ferocious hitters in the history of the game. "The Assassin," as he was known, earned All-Big Ten honors in each of his three seasons and was an All-American in 1968 and 1970.
A member of the Super Sophs, Tatum was a dominant force who delivered such crushing blows that would knock out almost any skill player out there.
That type of brute hitting force is something we saw replicated in many players like Ronnie Lott, John Lynch and Troy Polamalu, among other great safeties.
The late Tatum—without a doubt—changed the way the safety position is played.
22. Chris "Beanie" Wells, RB 2006-2008
When it comes to downhill runners, few have the incredible combination of size and speed that Chris Wells came to Columbus with in 2006.
The Akron native came to Columbus with a bang, with a 52-yard touchdown run against Michigan in 2006.
With his amazing burst and even more imposing stiff-arm, Beanie Wells ran for over 1,600 yards in 2007, earning him All-American honors.
He finished with 30 touchdowns in his career, but injuries kept him from being an even better back than he was.
If he could've stayed healthier, it's scary to imagine how good he could've been. But only now are we beginning to see Wells emerge as a strong runner in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals.
21. Paul Warfield, RB/WR 1961-63
The hall-of-fame offensive player that Paul Warfield was began with a strong career as an explosive player at Ohio State.
Warfield was a dual-sport athlete as both a football player and a sprinter on the OSU track team.
He earned two All-Big Ten honors and was the Ted Ginn of the 1960s, dominating opponents with his speed and explosiveness.
He was named to the All-Century team in 2000 and was one of the most gifted skill players in school history.
20. Tom Cousineau, LB 1975-1978
The No. 36 is a special tradition at Ohio State, as only very talented linebackers are given that number.
Among that crop of talented linebackers was Tom Cousineau.
A two-time All-American, Cousineau set a school-record in tackles in 1978 with a mind-blowing 211.
Cousineau set another record in the 1977 Orange Bowl with 29 tackles in the game, earning MVP honors.
He is currently second in career tackles behind Marcus Marek with 569 stops.
19. Cris Carter, WR 1984-1986
Cris Carter is as good a receiver as has ever come out of Ohio State, setting the standard for receivers to come in the modern era of Buckeye football.
He was the prototypical possession receiver, showing incredible body control to make tough catches as well as being a crisp route runner.
In his time in Columbus, Carter had 168 receptions and became the first Buckeye receiver to earn All-American honors in his junior season.
While Carter waits on being named into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he will always be considered among the best receivers, if not the best receiver, in school history.
18. Jim Otis, FB 1967-69
Jim Otis was the type of running back that Woody Hayes enjoyed having with this "three yards and a cloud of dust" type of offense.
The bruising fullback was an All-American in 1969 and led his team in rushing in each of his three seasons.
In the 1968 championship season, Otis scored 16 touchdowns with four coming in the infamous 50-14 blowout win at home over Michigan.
Otis just punished defenses every time he touched the ball with brute force, and he finished his career second in yards per game behind Archie Griffin with 94.1 rushing yards per game.
In his day, Otis was one of the toughest players to put on pads and tote the rock.
17. Marcus Marek, LB 1979-82
Marcus Marek grabbed the famous No. 36 from Tom Cousineau after his graduation and turned in a great legacy all his own.
In four seasons as a starter, Marek was named All-Big Ten all four seasons and led his team in tackles in the final three years of his career.
His ability to makes all kinds of tackles earned him the school record for career tackles with 572, just three ahead of his predecessor Cousineau.
Marek was the kind of player new OSU coach Earle Bruce could rely heavily on as he tried to rebuild the program after Woody Hayes' disgraceful exit.
16. Randy Grandishar, LB 1971-73
When Woody Hayes calls you "The best player I've ever coached," that is a very strong statement. For Randy Grandishar, that is the legacy he left as a football player.
He was a two-time All-American in his three seasons and recorded 320 tackles, including 132 in his final year of 1973.
That year, Grandishar was one of three Buckeyes to finish in the top 10 in Heisman voting along with John Hicks.
Between Grandishar, Cousineau and Hicks, the Buckeyes had a trio of dominant linebackers who set up a tradition that still continues nearly 40 years after Grandishar's final snap.
15. Rex Kern, QB 1968-1970
Rex Kern may not have been the greatest passer in school history, but he is probably the best leader from the QB position in school history.
The leader of the Super Sophs recruiting class that started to play in 1968, Kern led the Buckeyes to a 27-2 record in three seasons as a starter.
He rushed for over 500 yards each season, was named an All-American in 1969 and was a top-five Heisman candidate twice.
He led the Buckeyes to the 1968 national championship, which was probably the greatest team in school history, and were it not for a stunning upset loss at Michigan in 1969, could have gone back-to-back and become even more dominant than they were.
Kern was simply a winner, and one of the toughest players that Ohio State ever had step onto its sideline.
14. Jim Stillwagon, DL 1968-1970
Jim Stillwagon was to the Ohio State defense what Rex Kern was to the offense in the Super Sophs era of the late 1960s.
He was a two-time All-American and won the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award, the first player to ever win that trophy, in 1970.
His impact on the defensive line was impressive, as it helped free up the dynamic playmakers behind him including Tatum and Sensibaugh.
Stillwagon was just simply a dominant player and a leader who helped OSU go 27-2 in the three-year reign of the Super Sophs.
13. A.J. Hawk, LB 2002-2005
The story of A.J. Hawk is that of the unappreciated kid who received a scholarship offer despite a low high-school rating and still moved up all the way to super-stardom.
Hawk, a one-star recruit, was a two-time Big Ten Defensive MVP in 2004 and 2005 and the Lombardi Award winner in 2005.
He was one of the best defensive leaders Ohio State has had from the LB position and helped send Ohio State to the 2006 Fiesta Bowl in his final season.
His career would end with 394 tackles, 15 sacks and seven interceptions, as he cemented his legacy as one of the greatest defensive players in OSU history.
12. Keith Byars, RB 1982-85
Keith Byars was the type of running back that unless you were prepared to take a beating, it would be a long day trying to tackle him.
Byars had an incredible season in 1984, where he rushed for 1,764 yards and 22 touchdowns, five of which helped Ohio State complete a comeback against Illinois.
His success that year earned him Big Ten MVP honors and a unanimous All-American selection, as well as finishing second in Heisman Trophy voting to Boston College's Doug Flutie.
Unfortunately, he was not able to match or surpass that success, as injuries significantly hampered his 1985 season.
But he still finished with strong numbers, as his 50 touchdowns rank second only to Pete Johnson, and he rushed for nearly 3,200 yards.
11. Andy Katzenmoyer, LB 1996-98
Andy Katzenmoyer may have been the most physically imposing linebacker in the history of Ohio State football.
Big Kat, as he was known, started 37 games for the Buckeyes and was the anchor of the 1996 defense who helped the Buckeyes win the Rose Bowl.
He was a two-time All-American and won the Butkus Award, the first inside linebacker in OSU history to do so.
Katzenmoyer's career stats include 197 tackles, 50 of which were for a loss, and 18 sacks.
When it comes to being an interior force as a linebacker, Andy Katzenmoyer was as good as they come.
10. Troy Smith, QB 2003-2006
The Buckeyes' last Heisman Trophy winner and the first OSU QB to do so started the recent trend of dual-threat QBs operating the Buckeye offense.
Smith took over full-time as the starter in 2005, and he would only lose three more games during the rest of his career in the process.
He finished his career with nearly 8,000 yards of total offense and 68 touchdowns, including 31 in his Heisman season of 2006.
In addition to the Heisman in 2006, Smith also won the Davey O'Brien Award.
But what keeps him from being top five is his final game in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game, in which he had fewer completions than sacks.
In spite of all of that, Smith cemented his legacy as the best QB in the history of the program at this time.
9. Howard Cassady, RB 1952-55
Before Howard "Hopalong" Cassady made a name for himself in the NFL, he made a name for himself at Ohio State with a young, unknown coach named Woody Hayes.
Cassady was such an explosive athlete that he was criticized for being too fast to execute certain plays.
His speed was what made him a very special football player, as he helped lead Ohio State to the 1954 national championship, the first of many that Hayes would win.
He was a two-time All-American and was the AP Player of the Year, the Maxwell Award winner and the Heisman Trophy winner in his senior season in 1955.
Cassady's career total of 4,403 all-purpose yards was a school record, which stood for about 20 years, and had 37 touchdowns to go with that.
8. Les Horvath, RB 1940-42, 44
Football in the 1940s was a very trying time with World War II gripping the entire world, as almost every player went overseas to serve their country.
Les Horvath may have been the best of the WWII-era.
Before Horvath fought in the war, he helped lead Ohio State to its first national championship in 1942 and won the Heisman Trophy.
When he came back in 1944, he put up 1,248 all-purpose yards in his final season with the Buckeyes.
Horvath may not have been the most skilled player in school history, but his story of coming back from war and still being a great player may have been one of the most special tales in school history.
7. Orlando Pace, OT 1994-1996
Orlando Pace was such an imposing force as a lineman that a stat was invented just for him: the pancake block, which is when an offensive player knocks a defensive player down on his back.
And in his three years as a Buckeye, Pace did this very, very often, defining the role of the prototypical left tackle.
He became the second true freshman to start on opening day in Ohio State history in 1994 and went on to becoming the last Ohio State player drafted first overall in the NFL draft.
Pace was a two-time Lombardi Award winner, the 1996 Outland Trophy winner and finished fourth in Heisman voting that season.
Pace was named as one of two starting offensive tackles in Sports Illustrated's All-Century Team, cementing his legacy as one of the best offensive tackles in college football history.
6. Bill Willis, DL 1942-44
Five years before Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier, Bill Willis became one of the first African-Americans to play college football.
An outstanding athlete, Willis started off as a track star. It wasn't until legendary coach Paul Brown discovered him that he became an outstanding football player.
His background in track made him a dominant force on the defensive line, which helped his team win the 1942 national championship.
He continued to play college football in 1943 and '44 because a medical condition kept him from being drafted into the military.
In those two seasons, he earned All-Big Ten honors in 1943 and was an All-American in 1944.
Willis helped changed the game of college football as we know it, and his No. 99 is retired in the north end zone of Ohio Stadium, symbolizing his great contribution to the game of college football.
5. Vic Janowicz, RB/K 1949-51
Vic Janowicz was the type of player who literally could do it all, as he threw, kicked and ran the football for Ohio State on his way to legendary status.
The ultimate ironman of his time, Janowicz won the 1950 Heisman Trophy despite his team's 6-3 record, in the last season before Woody Hayes came to OSU.
An example of the type of player he was came in an 83-21 blowout win over Iowa, in which Janowicz threw four touchdown passes, ran for two scores and kicked 10 extra points—still a Big Ten record.
Like Willis and Horvath, Janowicz has his name retired in the north end of the Horseshoe.
While he may not have been the greatest player at one particular thing, he was able to do a lot of everything, and that made him just as dynamic a player.
4. Chic Harley, RB 1916-17, 1919
Every great thing has to have a start somewhere.
For Ohio State football, that somewhere is the career of Chic Harley and his success in helping to launch Buckeye football.
He led Ohio State to their first ever win over rival Michigan after nearly 20 straight years of defeat, which makes the current streak seem meager by comparison.
Harley, who was a two-way player—as most were in those days—scored 23 touchdowns and had eight interceptions in 24 games as a Buckeye.
Even more remarkable, he only lost once in his entire career.
Without Harley, Ohio State football might not be what it is because of the legacy he laid down for future generations of stars to come.
3. Eddie George, RB 1992-95
Eddie George was the definition of the total package when it comes to a running back: having both the size and speed to dominate opponents.
In his four seasons as a Buckeye, George put up all kinds of rushing records, including the single-season mark with 1,927, single-game record of 314 yards against Illinois and 12 games of 100 yards in a single season.
George won the Heisman Trophy in 1995, just edging out Nebraska's Tommie Frazier, by just dominating opponents to the tune of 24 touchdowns, second-most in a season for a Buckeye only behind Pete Johnson.
In addition to the Heisman, George also won the Maxwell Award and the Doak Walker Award.
He ended his career with 3,768 yards, second-most in school history, and 44 touchdowns, third-most.
George's No. 27 was retired in 2007.
2. Chris Spielman, LB 1984-87
At most schools, a player with the pedigree of Chris Spielman would be the best player in the history of their program.
Spielman's intensity and aggression was what made him a special player in the mid-1980s.
Wearing that famous No. 36, Spielman holds the OSU record for most solo tackles with 286 and is third behind Tom Cousineau and Marcus Marek, two other wearers of No. 36, in total tackles with 546.
He was a three-time All-Big Ten player and a two-time All-American, in addition to winning the Lombardi Award in 1987.
His heart has made him a legend in the eyes of Buckeye fans and a larger-than-life presence in the Columbus community as well.
What makes him the greatest defensive player in school history is not just the amount of tackles he put up, but how hard he played every single snap of the football as well.
1. Archie Griffin, RB 1972-75
In terms of Archie Griffin's legacy, it's impossible to be second place when you're the only player with two Heisman Trophies.
Griffin, in addition to that unique distinction, is the career leader in rushing yards with 5,589 and also 32 games of over 100 yards, which is also a school record.
Archie scored 26 touchdowns and in each of his final three seasons, rushed for over 1,400 yards.
Besides his two Heismans, he was named Big Ten MVP in 1973 and 1974, as well as the 1975 Maxwell Award winner.
He also is one of two players, former USC Trojan Brian Cushing being the other, to start in four Rose Bowl Games.
Griffin is an active member of the OSU community, as he is the head of the Ohio State Alumni Association.
And it seems like as if, at least right now, his status as the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner is still alive for quite a few seasons.
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