*This is Andy Vance's series, just trying to fill in today*
All of us obviously think about a certain running back who won a Heisman and had the number 27 retired with his name. Before we get into his storied career, let's take a moment to reflect on some of the other 27 players to wear that number on their jersey. One became a head coach and innovator of the game.
Trivia questions: Who was the last player to wear No. 27 for Ohio State? Who was the last player to be issued 27 for Ohio State? You can find the answers at the bottom of this article.
Honors and awards won by Ohio State players while wearing 27:
One earned a Heisman Trophy.
Two earned All-American honors while wearing the number.
Three made the All-Big Ten team.
Three were named captain of the team.
*Joey Galloway wore 27 as a freshman, but he sported then number 7 when he was named All-Big Ten, Academic-All American and Captain.
Sid Gillman (End)
"Sidney "Sid" Gillman (October 26, 1911 – January 3, 2003) was an American football player, coach, executive, and innovator. Gillman's insistence on stretching the football field by throwing deep down-field passes, instead of short passes to running backs or wide receivers at the sides of the line of scrimmage, was instrumental in making football into the modern game that it is today." source
Gillman was an end at Ohio State and was selected as a captain for the 1933 season. For his stellar play he earned spots on the All-American and All-Big Ten teams.
After one season as a player in the NFL Gillman moved on to coaching. His coaching career started as an assistant coach at Denison University in 1937 and Ohio State from 1938-1940. In 1944 he became head coach at Miami University until 1947. I know another guy who had a similar start to coaching. When Gillman was hired by the Los Angeles Rams in 1955 he had amassed a record of 81-19-2 as a college coach.
For his efforts and innovations to the game of football Sid Gillman was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1989.
An ironic twist to Mr. Gillman's life is that he passed away on January 3, 2003; the day Ohio State defeated the University of Miami for the National Championship.
Ray Ellis (DB)
Ray Ellis was named a captain and earned All-Big Ten for the 1980 Ohio State team. He played safety for the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns from 1981-1987.
Lately Ellis has been in the news again. He has joined the Ed O'bannon vs. NCAA lawsuit. This is a story Rob Oller wrote about Ellis in June.
Eddie George (RB)
Eddie George finished his career at Ohio State with 4,284 all-purpose yards (3,768 rushing), 45 touchdowns and a Heisman Trophy. Many rank him near the top, if not the top, of Ohio State's great running backs.
"As a freshman running back for the Buckeyes, George was an instant contributor. He scored three rushing touchdowns in a win over Syracuse University. However, he suffered a major setback in a game against the University of Illinois. In that game, George lost a fumble at the Illinois' 4-yard line that was returned 96 yards for a touchdown. Later in the game, with Ohio State leading by 2 points in the final quarter, George fumbled again, this time on Illinois' 1-yard line. Illinois recovered the fumble and drove for the game winning touchdown.
Before the Illinois game, George had carried the ball 25 times and scored 5 touchdowns, but for the rest of the season, he had only 12 more rushing attempts and didn't score once. In the following season, George was used as the team's third string running back, behind Raymont Harris. He carried the ball only 42 times, mostly when Ohio State had a large lead late in games. However, as a junior, George became the team's starting running back and went on to rush for 1,442 yards and 12 touchdowns.
As a senior in the 1995 season, George 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 only caught 16 passes in his first three seasons). One of his best performances of the year was in a 45-26 win over the University of Notre Dame, where he rushed for 207 yards, his third 200-yard game of the season. He also rushed for a school-record 314 yards and scored 3 touchdowns in OSU's victory over Illinois. In the 3 years since committing his 2 fumbles in the Illinois game as a freshman, George had over 600 rushing attempts and fumbled only 6 times. Ohio State finished the season with a 10-2 record, and George was recognized as a consensus first-team All-American and won the Heisman Trophy in the closest vote in the history of the award at the time, beating the University of Nebraska's Tommie Frazier by 264 votes. George left Ohio State second in school history in career rushing yards (3,768) and third in rushing touchdowns (44). Overall, he finished with 4,284 all-purpose yards, 45 touchdowns, and a 5.5 yards per carry average." source
I will always remember Eddie George as one of the hardest running, intimidating and graceful running backs to ever play for Ohio State. Here are some of his greatest moments that I will never forget.
Eddie's career in pictures and video:
The Illinois Game (Eddie, Eddie)
**I was at the Pittsburgh game when Ohio State won 54-14. I Was also at the Horseshoe the next year when the Buckeyes defeated Mark May's Kitties 72-0.
Ed-die, Ed-die, Ed-die, Ed-die, Ed-die...
Who was the last player to be issued 27 for Ohio State?
Michaell Willis, he only wore it in 1999.
Who was the last player to wear No. 27 for Ohio State?
Jerry Westbrooks, he wore it from 1996-2000.
Side story: Westbrooks was the player that Penn State's Adam Taliaferro was trying to tackle when Taliaferro broke his neck on Setember 23, 2000 in Columbus.