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Top 10 Ohio State Football Players in History

Updated on September 20, 2014

They have produced some of the best players and moments in college football history. Today, I rank the top 10 Ohio State football players of all time.

10. A.J. Hawk

He is one of the greatest impact linebackers in the history of Ohio State football.

Enrolling in 2002, A.J. Hawk went on to make a huge impact in the Big Ten. During his four-year Buckeye career, he played in 51 games and started 38 of them. He had 394 tackles with 196 of them solo, 41 of them for losses, 15.5 sacks, seven interceptions, three forced fumbles, and 13 fumbles recovered. His performances earned him first team All Big Ten honors in all three years he started and the MVP award for the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl after sacking his future brother-in-law, Brady Quinn, twice during the game. in his senior year, he received the Lombardi Award for the top linebacker in college football.

Hawk would go on to be a first round pick in 2006 by Green Bay. There he has been a 2010 pro bowler and Super Bowl champion.

9. Howard Cassady

"Hopalong" was one of the first great running backs in Buckeye history.

Enrolling in 1952, Howard Cassady played halfback and defensive back in his four years with the University. During his college career, he scored 37 touchdowns in 36 games. As a defensive back, a pass was never completed on him in four years. In 1954, Cassady helped the Buckeyes finish the season with a 10-0 record and win a consensus national championship. In 1995, he won the Heisman trophy, the Maxwell award, and was named the AP athlete of the year.

Cassady would go onto be a first round pick in 1956 by Detroit. In nine seasons in the NFL, he scored 27 touchdowns. He was inducted into the College football Hall of Fame in 1979.

8. Les Horvath

He is the School's first Heisman trophy winner.

Enrolling in 1939, Les Horvath managed to make the Buckeyes roster as a walk on the next season. He was seen a too small for a football player, but was a quick runner and had a strong arm. In his senior year in 1942, Horvath was made the fulltime starter and helped the team win its first National Championship. After spending a year in dental school, he returned in 1944 to account for 1,200 all purpose yards while leading the team to a perfect 9-0 record and becoming the first player in team history to win the Heisman trophy.

Horvath went on to be a sixth round pick in 1947 by the Rams where he would spend three seasons in the NFL. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1969.

7. Vic Janowicz

He is one of the most versatile players in team history.

Vic Janowicz was the ideal do everything player. A tailback in the single wing, he was not only a great runner, but he also passed, was the team's placekicker and punter, played safety on defense and was an outstanding blocker. In a 1950 game against Iowa, Janowicz ran for two touchdowns, threw for four more and kicked 10 extra points in that win. That same year as a junior, he totaled 875 yards and scored 16 touchdowns while winning the Heisman trophy.

Janowicz would go onto play baseball in Pittsburgh and football in Washington. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1976.

6. Troy Smith

"The Michigan Killer" is the most accomplished passing quarterback in Buckeye history.

In four years at Ohio State, Troy Smith became the starter midway through his sophomore year. In three games against Michigan, Smith had a total of 1,151 yards of total offense, two rushing touchdowns, seven passing touchdowns, and the Buckeyes won all three games. In 2006, he won the Heisman trophy after passing for 2,542 yards, 30 touchdowns, and just six interceptions in leading the Buckeyes to a BCS national championship appearance.

Smith went on to be a fifth round pick in 2007 by Baltimore. In the past seven years, he has spent time in the NFL, UFL, and CFL.

5. Orlando Pace

"The Pancake Man" was one of the most dominant offensive lineman in college football history.

In four years at Ohio State, Orlando Pace was only the second true freshman ever to start on opening day for the Buckeyes football team. He was so dominant that the term pancake block gained popularity at Ohio State due to his play. In his final two seasons, Pace did not allow a sack wither year. He is the only offensive lineman to win the Lombardi award twice and also won the Outland trophy his senior year.

Pace went on to be the first overall pick in 1997 by St. Louis. In a 13 year NFL career, he was a seven time pro bowler, five time All-Pro, and Super Bowl champion. He was inducted into the college Hall of Fame in 2013.

4. Chris Spielman

He is the most dominant middle linebacker in Buckeye history.

In four years at Ohio State, Chris Spielman breathed intensity from his days as a freshman. His passion for Ohio State football is still felt today even as a broadcaster. Spielman's career is best summed up in his 29 tackle performance against Michigan in 1986 which is a single game school record that still stands. He finished with 546 total tackles, was a two time All-American honoree, and capped his career by winning the Lombardi Award in 1987. He's still the standard by which Ohio State's middle linebackers are judged.

Spielman went on to be a second round pick in 1988 by Detroit. In 10 NFL seasons, he was a four time pro bowler and three time All-Pro. He was inducted into the college Hall of Fame in 2009.

3. Eddie George

He is the best workhorse running back in Buckeye history.

As a freshman in 1992, Eddie George made an instant impact on the offense after rushing for three touchdowns in win over Syracuse. As a senior in the 1995 season, he rushed for a school record 1,927 yards and 24 touchdowns, an average of 152.2 yards per game while also catching 44 passes for 399 yards and another score. George's combination of size and speed blended into an almost-unstoppable force. That season included a school record 314 yard, three touchdown effort against Illinois. He also won the Heisman trophy that season as well as the Maxwell, Walter Camp, and Doak Walker awards.

George went on to be a first round pick in 1996 by Houston. He ended his nine year NFL career as a four time pro bowler, two time All-Pro, and gad over 10,000 rushing yards in his career. He was inducted into the college Hall of Fame in 2011.

2. Chic Harley

He is the first great player in team history.

In 1916, Chic Harley led the team to a 7–0 record and their first Big Ten Conference championship. The team scored 258 points in seven games and giving up only 29 that year. The next year, the team repeated as conference champions with an 8-0-1 record. After spending time in the military, Harley returned in 1919 to help the team defeat Michigan for the first time ever. Throughout his Ohio State career, he played right halfback on offense and safety on defense, and was also the team's punter and place kicker. He scored 201 points in a 23 game career. His 8.74 points per game remains a school record and he also holds the team record for interceptions in a game. In three college seasons, he was an All-American each year and also helped design Ohio Stadium.

He went on to play professional in 1921 for Chicago. Harley was a charter member of the college football Hall of Fame in 1951.

1. Archie Griffin

Was there really any doubt whose the greatest Buckeye ever.

As a freshman, Archie Griffin won the starting job relatively quickly. Head coach Woody Hayes once said of Griffin, "He's a better young man than he is a football player, and he's the best football player I've ever seen." he is the only running back to lead the Big Ten Conference in rushing for three straight years. Over his four year collegiate career, He rushed for at least 100 yards in 34 games, including an NCAA record 31 consecutive games. He has been the only college football player to date to win the Heisman trophy twice.

Griffin went on to be a first round pick in 1976 by Cincinnati. He was inducted into the college Hall of Fame in 1986.


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