Sammy Silverman Turns Ohio State Graphics Into Recruiting Gold

By Kyle Rowland on April 30, 2014 at 8:30a

You know it’s a job well done when Urban Meyer says it’s badass.

Braxton Miller and Tom Herman have heard it. So too has Sammy Silverman. Who, exactly, is Silverman? He’s a twenty-something graphic designer who’s carved out a place for himself in college football.

Silverman, an Ohio State graduate who grew up in Youngstown cheering on the Jim Tressel-coached Buckeyes, now calls Meyer his boss and has a tidy office inside the hallowed halls of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. He’s the only person to fill the position he currently occupies – athletic department graphic designer – which was created for him in June 2012.  

When Silverman learned about an opening inside the football program, he jumped at the opportunity. As an industrial design student, he aspired to design athletic equipment such as footwear. Instead, he parlayed a three-month internship into a full-time job on the periphery of college football’s vortex.

“I haven’t left yet,” Silverman told Eleven Warriors. “It’s exciting and fun over here.”

His days are spent staring at a computer screen crafting the latest poster with statistics, info graphics and a catchy slogan destined to reach five-star recruits. In-home visits and simple recruiting pamphlets used to woo prospects to big-time programs. But creativity has become the latest wave.

Coaches are tapping into the right side of their brain, leaving no stone unturned to attract recruits. That became clear again this week when Georgia recruit Lorenzo Carter told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution that Raekwon McMillan may have spurned the Bulldogs for the Buckeyes after a portrait gone bad.

“I would have to say [the most creative thing was] when UGA drew a picture of me. That was pretty cool. I liked that a lot,” Carter said. “They did (the portraits) for me and Raekwon McMillan. We didn’t get Raekwon but still it was good.

“I looked good in (the portrait), compared to how I look in real life. Raekwon’s picture didn’t look good. It was ugly. He didn’t like it. That’s probably why he didn’t come to UGA.”

ESPN Recruiting analyst Tom VanHaaren tweeted this month about Silverman’s work, calling it “some of the nicer graphic design work” in recruiting. Scott Roussel of followed it up with a piece titled “The best graphics in college football,” detailing a visit to Ohio State, where he was wowed by Silverman’s work.

“Last April I visited Ohio State, and when I walked into director of player personnel Mark Pantoni's office, I immediately noticed all of the graphics he had on the wall,” Roussel wrote. “I told Pantoni at the time that their graphics were some of the best I've seen anywhere and he promptly introduced me to Sammy Silverman, a former Ohio State student…Since then, I've frequently seen Silverman's work featured by the Ohio State staff and it's clearly some of the best graphic work in all of college football.”  

The walls inside Silverman’s living room are decorated with sketches, a modern-day wallpaper of sketchpads and pencil markings. He constantly critiques himself and has notebooks filled with ideas. There’s input from recruiting czar Mark Pantoni before the mouse is clicked. Then the frantic design process begins. 

Two of Silverman’s most notable works include the “missing piece” puzzle and “next man up” picture. The innovative projects are meant to stand out and be appealing to the eye.

“The whole idea is to promote the program,” Silverman said. “You’re trying to paint their own picture.”

Samuel Silverman's work.

Promoting coaches, facilities and the tradition of Ohio State are familiar highlights. Pantoni recognized Silverman’s ability to detail Ohio State’s attractive brand and add another flavor to it. Imagination and ingenuity runs in the Silverman family.

An older brother, Shawn, is director of marketing for Comedy Central, which includes the network’s advertising and commercials, and younger sister, Jaclyn, graduated from Ohio State with a fine arts degree in photography and will get her master’s from the University of Chicago.

A legion of Twitter followers and the hashtag #SammySilvDesigns have contributed to Silverman’s meteoric rise in popularity among Ohio State fans. Social media’s reach cannot be overstated as the 21st century nears its third decade.

“To have that as a link to all of my work as a portfolio is great,” Silverman said. “The idea behind that was to try building my personal brand. There are a million Ohio State fans around, so it lets them see my designs. The coaches and whole Ohio State staff have been very supportive of that, which is awesome. It’s just like one big supportive family. We’re all trying to reach our goals.”

For now, Silverman’s goals remain pumping out graphics every day. He came to Ohio State knowing art would be a career path, but never imagined it would involve working with the football program and having Meyer approve or disapprove of his designs – or the oversized fan base latching onto his handiwork. 

“I know that I’m not the best graphic designer in the land. But I feel like I create content that our audience wants to see,” Silverman said. “To get that amazing feedback and praise me for my work, it’s really unbelievable and humbling. It makes me strive to do everything better every day.”


Comments Show All Comments

Squirrel Master's picture

I love Sammy's work! I'm wondering if I am just ignorant of others but can anyone show me other athletic dept recruiting design work that might rival SS? I know there are the awful recruiting attempts out there but is there anyone in the same league as SS?


I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

+7 HS
Scott's picture

The linked article mentions Sammy's work being in the top five along with Alabama, LSU, Miami, and USC, but I haven't checked out their work yet.

Class of 2008

Squirrel Master's picture

yes and I tried looking for anything online for those programs but its just general design stuff that every program has. I'm looking for specific designers like SS who helps with recruiting. Need names.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

doudt's picture

This kid is going to go far in life.  Bless the Buckeyes for getting a great talent on board.  Go Sammy!

+1 HS
achillesx's picture

I'd like to know if these posters are ever offered for sale. They would look great on the wall of a man cave!

+11 HS
AJBor41's picture

Was wondering the same thing, ACHILLESX.

chemicalwaste's picture

Especially with movie theater poster style under-lighting in a nice frame. Kind of like my plan for an outdoor dart board. Only with cooler graphics inside.

+1 HS
SilverState's picture

Sammy giving thanks to 11W:

+5 HS
KBonay's picture

Great...he knows about 11w.  There goes our photoshop friday chances......

+17 HS
dubjayfootball90's picture

This dude is living an great life. Great work. Great everything. Congrats to you, Mr. Silverman.

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

+2 HS
Poison nuts's picture

I'd say Sammy & Walt are as good as it gets in regards to sports graphic design.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

Crimson's picture

Gametime does not approve of this comment.

Doc's picture

His work is awesome.  Urban and the football program leaves no stone unturned.  This is great, great stuff.  And Sammy being an OSU grad is just icing on the cake.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

+3 HS
osu07asu10's picture

Awesome work Sammy!

1. Thanks for the avatar

2. Thanks for crushing it for the buckeyes!

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

MattyBeingMatty's picture


“Not everybody’s the perfect person in the world, I mean everyone kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me, whatever. I think that people need a second chance, and I’ve always looked up to Mike Vick." -TP

+4 HS
BucksFan2000's picture

There are often debates about video games, if they can be considered art.  I'd think this extends to any digital art, but this guy is absolutely an artist.  I think we all appreciate his work, and glad to have him on our side.

Some of these other teams seem like complete jokes in comparison.

+1 HS
livinthedream's picture

I'm thinking Thad could use a Sammy Silverman too.

+4 HS
45has2's picture

Absolutely, Thad should beg Urb for a little Sammy time. I'm sure they could work something out.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

Jason Priestas's picture

He's done some work for the basketball team. Football is is top priority, but it looks like Meyer is not above sharing him.

Go1Bucks's picture

Could he do one of Myles Turner and send it over?

Go Bucks!

+1 HS
hetuck's picture

Let him indulge his original love and design the next set of alternate uniforms. His sense of tradition and presence of gray on his palette gives me confidence we would be pleased with the result.

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

+1 HS
LoufromOSU's picture

Brilliant Idea at the base of it, but 1) Nike probably doesn't care for imput from the actual universities on their product and 2) if they see his designs, Nike might try to steal him!

There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you. - Woody Hayes

nburns18's picture

I would love to buy some of these 

"You win with people." -Woody Hayes

osubuckeye4life's picture

Keep up the great work Sammy! I would love to own a print of the 'Fall is Coming' one among others. 

TTUN@SS@SIN's picture

I don't think anyone else in the country compares to Mr. Silverman. Keep up the awesome work.

"I'm Hungry" - Brady Hoke