Countdown: 53 Days Until Ohio State Football

Remy's picture
July 8, 2014 at 12:03a
Tick Tock

Tick.....tock.........tick............tock time seems to be slowing down as we inch closer and closer to the start of the 2014 season. 53 more days until Ohio State travels east to play Navy. Below you will find a list of the 31 players who wore the No. 53 for the Buckeyes. Today's featured players are Dwight "Ike" Kelley and Randy Gradishar.

Something I found interesting is that Les Horvath started his career wearing the No. 53 in 1940. Horvath would later wear the No. 22 and have it retired in his honor.

Today's Trivia Question:
Can you name the Ohio State alum who is the all-time leader in tackles for the Denver Broncos?


Players who Wore the No. 53 for Ohio State
Player Worn All-American All-B1G Captain Academic AA Ac All-B1G Letter
Campbell Graf 1939           1939
Les Horvath* 1940           1940
Anthony Adamle* 1946           1946
Raymond Lininger 1946-49   1949       1946-49
James Merrell 1951           1951
Richard Slicker 1954            
Ronald Barnes* 1955            
Daniel James 1957-58           1957-58
Billy Armstrong 1960-62   1962       1960-62
Ike Kelley 1963-65 1964, 1965 1964, 1965 1965     1963-65
John Muhlbach 1966-68   1968       1966-68
Brian Donovan* 1969   1969       1969
Randy Gradishar 1971-73 1972, 1973 1971, 1972, 1973   1973 1973 1971-73
Douglas Porter 1974-77           1974-77
Craig Pack 1981-82           1981-82
Rich Morris 1983-86            
Paul Long* 1987-88            
Scott Sharp 1988, 1990            
Mike Chancey* 1989            
Bill Seach* 1990-91            
Scott Lynch 1992-94           1994
Mike Mezgec 1992            
Eric Schmidlin 1993            
Darren Hester 1995            
Sean Colosimo 1997            
Edmund Brown 1998-99            
Ivan Douglas 1999-2002            
Adam Licker 2004            
Caesar Buie 2004            
Patrick Howe 2006-09            
Garrett Goebel 2008-12     2012   2009, 2010 2009-12

*Wore another number at Ohio State
Did not earn a varsity letter while wearing No. 53
I do not have the list of 2013 varsity letter winners
Buckeyextra and The Ohio State Team Guide

Ike Kelley

Dwight “Ike” Kelley, LB (1963-65)
Born: 1944 (Ludington, That State)
High School: Bremen (Ohio)

Ohio State
The Buckeyes were 19-7-1 with Kelley on the team.
Went 2-1 against That Team.

1965 Captain.
1965 All-American.
1965 All-Big Ten.
1964 All-American.
1964 All-Big Ten.
2008 Received Ohio Gold Award.

Ike Kelley career summary by 

Dwight "Ike" Kelley was the first Buckeye standout at the position that became to be known as linebacker. The Bremen, Ohio, native played in an era when the game of football was evolving.

Kelley was All-Big Ten and All-American in 1964 and 65, and served as the Buckeyes' co-captain his senior year. 

Ike Kelley's Ohio State and Philadelphia Eagles career per Jim Gehman of

On the field, Dwight "Ike" Kelley was a two-time All-America linebacker at Ohio State who was also a standout performer on special teams. So much so that the university has an award named after him which is presented each year to the team's top special teams player.


Fortunately for the Eagles, Kelley proved to have the ideal size needed to continue his spectacular special teams contributions at the professional football level.

Kelley is on the right.
Ike Kelley (right) with Greg Lashutka (future Mayor of Columbus) and Woody Hayes.

"I just took advantage of an opportunity," he said. "I didn't realize that they put most of the rookies on special teams. I'd always learned that that was like an offensive play or a defensive play. You could make or break a game with any given special teams play out there. And so I gave it my all and had some success as a rookie."

And what was the rookie's mindset?

"Just be crazy and fly down there with reckless abandon and complete disregard for personal safety and make a tackle or do whatever was necessary," Kelley said. "Whether it was on a punt or a kickoff or a kickoff return, you make a block or two. We had pretty good special teams all around with the Eagles back in the '60s and early '70s."


Kelley with the Eagles

"Probably the fondest (memory I have) is never having been booed at Franklin Field or Veterans Stadium. Because you know the Philadelphia fans can be brutal sometimes," laughed Kelley. "They use to throw two banners over the side (of the stadium's concourse walls). One was 'Captain Crunch' and [had Kelley's number] 51 on it with a football player. And the other one said 'Kelley's Killers.' That's what the special teams were known as back in those days. It was kind of neat, it really was. Philly fans are great fans and they'll come to cheer you or boo you, or both - sometimes in the same game."

Kelley's life after football per

Following the final cheer or boo he received as an Eagle, Kelley turned to his college roots and made his home in Columbus, Ohio, where he continued to demonstrate the same work ethic for Worthington Industries that made him a poster boy in Philadelphia.

Worthington Industries

"It is light manufacturing, steel processing company. We branched out into where we manufacture liquid propane gas cylinders, the tanks you find on gas grills. We make those things by the thousands. And we are now in the metal framing business and have several joint ventures. We're about a $3 billion organization and have 7,500 to 8,000 employees.

"I worked for (them for) 35, 36 years and took an early retirement package back in November 2007 and now I'm doing some part-time work for them on a project-type basis. There are three guys who are retired and we go around and do some training at our different steel locations."

Kelley and his wife, Barb, continue to make their home in suburban Columbus. They have two children: Kerrie and Brian; and six grandchildren.

Sources- The Ohio State Team Guide,

Randy Gradishar

Randy Gradishar, LB (1971-73)
Born: 1952 (Warren, Ohio)
High School: Champion

Ohio State
The Buckeyes were 25-6 with Grandishar on the team.
1972 Big Ten Title.
1973 Big Ten Title.
Defeated USC 42-21 to win the 1974 Rose Bowl.
1973 defense held the first ten opponents to 43 total points.
Finished 6th in the 1973 Heisman voting.

1973 All-American.
1973 Academic All-American.
1973 All-Big Ten.
1973 Academic All-Big Ten.
1972 All-Big Ten.
1971 All-Big Ten.
1983 Inducted into the Ohio State Varisty O Hall of Fame.
1987 Inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.
1992 Inducted into the Academic All-America Hall of Fame.
1998 Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

2000 Named to the Ohio State Football All-Century Team.
2000 Named to ABC Sports All-Century Team as inside linebacker.
Ohio State's outstanding linebacker award is named the Randy Gradishar Award.

Randy Grandishar's career per The Ohio State Team Guide:

Randy Gradishar was referred to by Woody Hayes as “the best linebacker I ever coached at Ohio State.” He was a two-time All-American and is considered one of the most versatile, mobile and complete linebackers ever to play college football.

Woody thought Gradishar was the best LB...ever.

Gradishar was a three-year starter between 1971 and 1973 and recorded 320 total tackles. He finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy balloting as a senior and was the backbone of the 1973 defense, which recorded four shutouts and allowed just 64 points. After graduation, he played 10 years with the Denver Broncos.

During his career, he was a seven-time Pro Bowler, the second most by any Bronco at the end of his career, and he also is the all-time leader in tackles for Denver with 1,958.

He was inducted into the Academic All-America Hall of Fame in 1992. In December of 1998, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.


Gradishar's thoughts on the 1973 team deserving a national title per Tom Dienhart of

Because of the tie and because we handily beat USC, we thought we would be voted No. 1. But then Notre Dame beats No. 1 Alabama and they ended up No. 1. That was depressing. Still, we felt good about representing the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl and winning that game.

Sources- The Ohio State Team Guide, and Wikipidia 

No. 53 in the NFL Draft
Name Year Round Pick Position Team
Les Horvath* 1943 6 45 QB Rams
Jack Lininger 1949 21 202 C Lions
Dan James 1959 1 8 C 49ers
Ike Kelley 1966 17 249 LB Eagles
Randy Gradishar 1974 1 14 LB Broncos

*Wore No. 22 when drafted.
Sources- The Ohio State Team Guide and Jason Priestas

Gradishar leads the Broncos in tackles.

Today's Trivia Answer:
Can you name the Ohio State alum who is the all-time leader in tackles for the Denver Broncos? Randy Gradishar holds the Denver record with 1,958 career tackles.

Gradishar getting his man.

143 days until The Game.


Remy's picture

Let me know If there are any errors. I was born after Gradishar played for the Buckeyes, but if Woody considered him the best Ohio State linebacker that's good enough for me.

The best Ohio State linebacker.

"I'm sick of following my dreams. I'm just going to ask them where they're goin', and hook up with them later." ~ Mitch Hedberg

+5 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

I saw Gradishar play high school ball at Warren G. Harding; he preceded me by 6 years. He and Paul Warfield were my childhood idols; both were stars at OSU.

+3 HS

Thanks Remy - Randy was the man!  Warren, Ohio used to have this A&W that we used to enjoy going to back in the early 80s, and loved getting their root beer and talking to the locals about all the Warren Harding games where Randy's name would always come up at one point as someone who hailed from that little town.  They also had a great pizza place (Enzo's II) not too far from there, which was across from this Dunkin' Donuts where I had my first cornbread muffin at a young age.  Holy memory lane...

"I don't apologize for anything.  When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

+2 HS
Remy's picture

ISURVIVEDCOOPER, One of the things I like about this series is when readers share their personal connection to a player or town each day. Thanks for sharing your memories of Warren.

"I'm sick of following my dreams. I'm just going to ask them where they're goin', and hook up with them later." ~ Mitch Hedberg

+2 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

The A&W was two blocks from my house! Thanks for bringing back the memories, ISC!

+1 HS

Do you remember the bowling alley up the street near the top of that hill?  It was past theI believe there used to be an old movie theater across the street from there in the early 80s.  LOL... I can see that whole strip like yesterday

"I don't apologize for anything.  When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

BrewstersMillions's picture

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would be more obvious.

+2 HS
robobuck's picture

Ike was one bad lookin' dude. More Lewis than Hawk.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  1 Corinthians 9:24

+1 HS
VintonCountyBuck's picture

I can still see myself sitting by the fire listening to my Dad tell his stories about Gradishar.  Up until Speilman, he was Dad's favorite player.  The one thing he would always get worked up about was the fact that until The Game that year, the Buckeyes allowed only 33points on the year (10 games).  He was always adamant that we would probably never see another Defense that was as dominant as that one.

“Right now, Michigan is not at the pinnacle of college football, and that’s all Urban Meyer cares about...He’s been there and knows what it takes to get there.” 

+1 HS
UtahBuckeyes's picture

Remy-  I wanted to give a little more info on Jim Merrell (my Dad), who wore #53 for the Bucks from 1950-1953. He played both ways for Woody- middle linebacker and center.   He also had the pleasure of playing with 2 Heisman Trophy winners (Hopalong and Vic).  When he graduated, he returned to Geneva and served as a member of "The Committee"- the primary local contact for OSU recruits for Ashtabula County under Woody, Earl Bruce, John Cooper and Tress.  Great memories!  Thanks for including him on the list!  


+1 HS
Remy's picture

UtahBuckeyes, Thanks for sharing your dad's story. He played during a great time at Ohio State. I could only imagine the stories your dad could share. Sorry for the late reply, I did a blog check and was alerted to your comment.

I also noticed that this was your first comment as a member. Welcome aboard.

"I'm sick of following my dreams. I'm just going to ask them where they're goin', and hook up with them later." ~ Mitch Hedberg