The Uniform Numbers That Have the Most Juice in OSU Football History

By Chris Lauderback on July 12, 2014 at 8:15a
Spielman is the best of three elite Ohio State linebackers to have worn No. 36
33 Comments

When a program is able to claim seven national championships, 34 Big Ten titles, seven Heisman winners, six Lombardi Awards, four Outland and Maxwell Trophy winners, a pair of Jim Thorpe Award winners and 78 consensus All-Americans, it's safe to say an enormous amount of talent has passed through its football factory. 

Ohio State, like all elite college football powers, celebrates the greatness of individual players in various ways including the "retirement" of uniform numbers. Since the Buckeyes began playing football in 1890, only seven players have been bestowed this ultimate honor: Les Horvath (22), Eddie George (27), Vic Janowicz (31), Howard "Hopalong" Cassidy (40), Archie Griffin (45), Chic Harley (47) and Bill Willis (99). 

But what about all the numbers? As a rabid fan, you're already well aware of who the truly outstanding players are in Buckeye history but if you looked at all the guys who have suited up for the Scarlet and Gray, which specific uniform numbers sport the most historical mojo? 

Examining the list of every Ohio State football player by uniform number, I present, in no particular order, my top five uniform numbers in Buckeye history along with some supporting data. 

#2

As expected, two different single-digit numbers make the list because 1) they are typically deemed sexy by players and 2) single-digit numbers can be worn by a variety of skill positions. 

Uniform #2 sports a solid supporting cast but it's the three-headed monster of Cris Carter, Mike Doss and Malcolm Jenkins that makes it a lock for this (offseason topic fueled) list. 

Point to the sky if you're a three-time All-American.

The man with a fancier name than you realized, Graduel Christopher Darin Carter, suited up for Ohio State for three seasons, becoming the school's first All-American wide receiver. A consensus All-American in 1986, Carter left Ohio State as the all-time leader in receptions and only David Boston has passed him since (191). His 27 career touchdowns are also 2nd all-time in school history (Boston, 34) while his 2,792 career receiving yards stand 4th. Oh, and he was pretty sick in the NFL, earning a spot in Canton, where he took the time to apologize to OSU fans for blowing his senior season after it was learned he signed with an agent. 

On the other side of the ball, a pair of all-time greats in the secondary wore #2 in Mike Doss and Malcolm Jenkins. Doss was a three-time All-American and captain of the 2002 national championship team, a year in which he was also named the B1G Defensive Player of the Year. Jenkins, also a captain, was a beast in his own right, earning All-B1G 1st-team honors three straight years while adding two national All-American and the 2008 Jim Thorpe Award to his resume. 

Beyond that ridiculous trio, uniform #2 also sports Terrelle Pryor and Christian Bryant. Pryor, despite an ugly exit from Columbus, owns the school record for career touchdown passes (57) and was 3-0 against Michigan and 2-1 in bowls including a Rose Bowl win over Oregon and a curse-exercising victory over SEC foe Arkansas in the Sugar. 

#36

If I could go back in time, have some actual football talent worthy of a scholly from Ohio State, I'd wear #36 for the same reason as many of you – Chris Spielman. Just a hair above Antoine Winfield, Spielman is my favorite Buckeye of all and he certainly did justice to #36, a number he shares with two other legendary Buckeye linebackers in Marcus Marek and Tom Cousineau. 

Impressively, the trio of linebacking greats can all lay claim to All-American and All-B1G honors along with serving as team captains. Combined, that totaled 1,687 tackles for the Scarlet and Gray with Marek the school's all-time leader (572) followed closely by Cousineau's 569 and Spielman's 546. For perspective, 4th on the list is Steve Tovar at 408. 

Spielman and Cousineau share the single-game tackles record at OSU with 29 each but Spielman gets bonus points as his came against Michigan in a 26-24 loss ($^#& kickers) in the Shoe. 

Honorable mentions for #36 include Bruce Elia and Brian Rolle, Ohio State's 2010 leader in tackles.

#7

The other single-digit number to make the list, #7 claims two quarterbacks and three receivers, one of which was the nastiest punt returner I've ever seen and another a lockdown cornerback. 

Cornelius Greene isn't an overly celebrated signal-caller in Buckeye lore but that's bound to happen when your coach loathes the forward pass and you share a backfield with Archie Griffin and Pete Johnson. A gifted runner, Corny helped guide the 1973, '74 and '75 squads to conference titles, earning a spot on the All-B1G in the final two seasons. 

Germaine's 230 completions in 1998 are still a single-season best at OSU

The other #7 to shine under center, Joe Germaine was and still is the best pure passer in the history of Ohio State football. By way of a little junior college in Scottsdale, Germaine shared time with a lesser player before exploding for 3,330 yards passing with 25 touchdowns on the way to breaking 11 school records and capturing the B1G's MVP trophy. 

Recently, I wrote about the 10 best players not in Buckeye Grove and one of those names was Joseph Scott Galloway. A straight burner, Galloway led the B1G in yards per catch (20.1) and ranked in 2nd in receiving touchdowns (11) in 1993. He was also a three-time academic All-American before being selected with the 8th pick of the 1995 NFL Draft. 

Another burner, Ted Ginn Jr, wore #7 from 2004-06 during which time he hauled in 135 passes (6th all-time) for 1,983 yards (8th). His six punt return touchdowns are twice as many as the next Buckeye on the career list and his 25.6 yards per punt return in 2004 lead the country and stands as the most in school-history by nearly seen yards. 

Finally, Chris Gamble earned 1st team all-league honors as part of the 2002 national championship team thanks to four interceptions, 31 catches for 499 yards and 546 yards on punts and kickoffs. His ability to shut down half the field on defense was a thing to watch. 

#10

Uniform #10 is anchored by two of the best quarterbacks in school history, another one that wasn't too shabby and a dynamic force at linebacker. 

Rex Kern quarterbacked the 1968 team to the national championship as a sophomore to solidify his place in Buckeye lore and Troy Smith stands as Ohio State's most dominant QB ever thanks to a sick 2006 campaign that saw him claim the Heisman Trophy on the strength of school records for completion percentage (65.3%) and touchdown passes (30) against six picks. Smith is also the school's all-time leader in Passing Efficiency at 157.1.

The final quarterback, Art Schlichter, makes the cut though I believe he was always a bit overrated considering he never completed more than 54% of his passes in a single season and while he threw 48 touchdowns, he also tossed 50 interceptions though 21 of those came as a freshman. On the plus side, his 2,551 passing yards in 1981 rank 3rd all-time while his 7,547 career yards remains the school record (Braxton needs 2,256 to beat it). 

The 3rd biggest heavy-hitter on the list to wear #10, Ryan Damn Shazier was all class as he racked up 45.5 career tackles for loss, good enough for 5th on the OSU list. Last season, Shazier recorded an astounding 143 tackles including 101 solo stops, 3rd-most is school annals. 

Honorable mention here goes to 1933 quarterback Carl Cramer for earning All-American and 1st-team All-B1G honors. 

#75

Two words. Orlando Pace. Case closed. 

Obviously, 75 isn't a very sexy number but you can't forget about the hogs up front. Pace alone puts the number in contention considering there's never been a finer lineman in college football history. The two-time Lombardi Award and one time Outland Trophy winner finished fourth in the Heisman balloting as a junior after he recorded 80 pancake blocks. Pace didn't give up a sack during his last two years in Columbus before becoming the 1st pick in the 1997 NFL Draft. 

Two older names to rock #75 include All-B1G performers David Cheney (1968-70) and Nick Buonamici while fresher names include Simon Fraser and NFL mainstays Alex Boone and Mike Adams. 

Again, it's possible #75 is graded on a curve. As a sampler, here are a few other numbers that garner honorable mention:

  • #1 - Marcus Freeman, Boom Herron, Mike Lanese, Bradley Roby and Tom Skladany. 
  • #4 - Another single-digit, #4 is paced by Will Allen, C.J. Barnett, Kurt Coleman, Kirk Herbstreit and Santonio Holmes. Sorry, #4, maybe I subliminally held Ray Small against you. 
  • #11 - Anthony Gonzalez and Antoine Winfield, my 2nd favorite Buckeye of all-time. This group doesn't have much depth however as names like Etienne Sabino and Jake Stoneburner are near the top of the remaining names. 
  • #45 - Very little depth because his number was put on ice for years but ARCHIE FREAKING GRIFFIN and Andy Katzenmoyer. 
33 Comments

Comments

JohnnyKozmo's picture

Boom Herron was #1, not #2 as referenced above.  Did he wear #2 early on that I am not remembering?

How long is the wait for a number to be retired?  Surprised Troy's #10 hasn't been yet.

Chris Lauderback's picture

Upon further review, I think Boom wore #2 during his redshirt year in 2007. Considering all his contributions were made as #1, I should not have included him as a legit contributor as #2. 

BuckeyeDale's picture

~~http://grfx.cstv.com/schools/osu/graphics/pdf/m-footbl/all-time-jersey.pdf

Everyone has their favorites, and if you'd like to give some comparisons, you can find ammunition at the above link... 

 
BuckeyeDale
GO BUCKS!!

livinthedream's picture

Dude that rocks!  Thanks. 

I'm thinking of a drinking game with my buds :~)

BroJim's picture

I like to think this article was inspired by Remy.

I season my simple food with hunger

+3 HS
kmp10's picture

The final quarterback, Art Schlichter, makes the cut though I believe he was always a bit overrated...

I'm gonna guess that you weren't around to see Art Schlichter play. The GM's in the NFL obviously didn't think he was "overrated", making him the 4th overall pick in the 82 draft. Schlichter, at 6'3" 220, was the best athlete I've ever seen play football at Ohio State. I've said it before; Schlichter could do all that Troy Smith could do… but he was a half foot taller and much bigger. Schlichter's football legacy is usually overshadowed by his personal shortcomings. While Art Schlichter is certainly not a model citizen, he's the best quarterback in OSU history, in my opinion. 

+2 HS
Chris Lauderback's picture

I saw him play but I was young. As for the NFL GM's, I would agree they didn't think he was overrated. That said, I think they were all wrong. Issues or not, during his abbreviated NFL career he completed 45% of his passes for 3 TD and 11 INT. I respect your opinion but I'm guessing you're in a pool of maybe 10% of Buckeye fans who think he's the best QB in school history. 

kmp10's picture

I was at Ohio State as a Freshman during Art's senior year, so I'm sure I'm biased. In addition, you're probably correct, RE: only 10% of Buckeye fans believe Schlichter to be the best QB in OSU history. However, I think that low number is driven by Schlichter's criminal past. I also believe his past trouble/gambling/criminal activity was what drove his failed NFL career. This guy had, through his own doing, the weight of the world on his shoulders. He was in debt to organized crime for God's sake. Imagine, with a clear mind specifically on football, what this guy could have done after accomplishing what he did (B1G MVP/Silver football winner 1981, 4th overall pick '81 draft) while Tony Soprano was knocking on his door trying to collect money Art didn't have. Let me rephrase my original thought… Schlichter was the most naturally gifted quarterback in OSU history (Pryor a very close second). I personally believe he's the best QB in Buckeye lore and if I had to pick my starting TTUN game quarterback Schlichter would be it. I do agree that he under performed, however, what's most amazing to me is that he performed to the level he did given the unique circumstances in his life. 

+2 HS
allinosu's picture

 By the time he got the NFL he was in the grasp of his personal problems so we will never know. He changed the culture from three yards and a cloud of dust and the fans were crazy for it at the time. I don't recall a bigger buzz in Columbus for a recruit except for Jerry Lucas. TP was pretty big but maybe not as much. I personally don't like pitting buckeye greats against each other because I love them all but Art has a spot high up the latter, maybe even 11 %. 

BuckminsterFullback's picture

Schlichter, at 6'3" 220 ... was a half foot taller and much bigger.

Well, Schlichter was certainly taller than Smith. Pro football reference lists Schlichter at 210; he probably didn't lose 10 pounds when he entered the NFL. Smith was pretty lean as a sophomore. But Smith was listed at 215 as a senior, and I remember him as big enough to be unfazed by a few hits from blitzing cornerbacks. (Smith seemed like he weighed 240 for the bowl game, but that's a different story...)

I saw Schlichter play; he was a great talent, with a strong arm and ability to run. 

It's hard to compare players from different eras; offensive and defensive schemes continue to become more sophisticated, players become bigger and faster, and rules and enforcement change (with the apparent goal of increasing TV ratings). 

And the QB position is hard to evaluate; we can see the runs and the throws, but it's hard to evaluate the audibles and the reads, the huddle presence, the leadership in the locker room, etc.

+1 HS
kmp10's picture

My reference is from having stood next to both on a few occasions. In college I was 6'2" 210lbs. I was a big, very recent HS football player. Standing next to Schlichter I felt small. He was every bit of 6'3" and much bigger than my 210lbs. I also stood next to Troy Smith at the '07 national title game in New Orleans. If Smith is 5'10" I'd be stunned. In reality, I'd say he was much closer to 5'9"… at best. He was thick, but Schlichter is just a much larger man with equal athletic ability. In football, assuming the ability is equal, the bigger man usually wins. You are right in that comparing players of different generations is difficult. I just believe that Schlichter's athleticism, coupled with his size, translates perfectly to any era of football. 

iamcbs's picture

I always find it amusing when people who never saw Art Schlichter play comment write articles about him. Playing in a system that didn't maximize his talents, he was still the best QB I've seen at Ohio State.

I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep, I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion~Alexander the Great

+1 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

Unfortunately, numbers do matter. And when you compare stats, it's not even close between Troy and Art. I saw both play, tho I was young when I was watching Art, and I would give the nod to Troy.

However, in my opinion, Rex Kern is the best QB to ever play at OSU.

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

Chris Lauderback's picture

I've seen him play. Just because someone has a different opinion than you, that may not mean they are woefully ill-informed. But hey, if I was able to bring some amusement to your life, that's great too.

cajunbuckeye's picture

Contact lenses would have greatly improved Art's passing numbers. He wasn't 20/20.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

+1 HS
CGroverL's picture

I learned about Art Schlichster the hard way, sort of how our writer just read what you wrote. I had someone tell me, after I had kind of acted like Schlichster didn't matter so much (I'm just 41 now and this has been a couple of years past) because I simply didn't know better and ran my mouth before doing research and realizing that Ohio State passing RECORD numbers are very low for a squad that is certainly among the best teams, year in and year out, of all time. The Buckeyes almost always did it by just running the ball and playing unreal defense. If the Buckeyes had been a passing team for all of these years we would have a team with a very different identity and legacy through the years as Ohio State is probably the best ever when it comes to running the football and abandoning the pass on purpose. "IF YOU CAN'T STOP OUR RUN, YOU CAN'T WIN" was the Buckeye way for quite a long time.

So...like all true members of Buckeye Nation, the writer and me deserve a pass of sorts on not knowing how great Mr. Schlichster was and could have been had football been far and away his #1 love. The man that explained Art Schlichster to me told me the Schlichster was #1 and Corny Greene was #2 all time when it came to Buckeye QB's. Maybe now, with coach Meyer's spread attack, Ohio State's all time passing records will be more formidable as we youngster's (I'm 41...hahahaha) are used to a more balanced Buckeye attack and people like Kern, Schlichster, and a few others are just famous Buckeyes that a lot of us never got to see play. Rex Kern was the other QB that this old dude recommended that I do some research on. The truth is that (as I found out in that research) Ohio State has had more than just a few greats when it comes to quarterbacks...the power run game simply took a lot of their true talents away. Wins were piling up though, so....if it isn't broken, don't fix it, right?

Go Buckeyes!!!

"I hope they're last in everything"

Thanks, Urb!

+1 HS
ottefunk's picture

"I like to think this article was inspired by Remy."

-Agreed, BroJim!! Everyon should check out Remy's Blog on here!!

+3 HS
Floyd Stahl's picture

Great article and picks. I would agree with you across the board except for substituting #45 for #75.

+1 HS
HENRYJONESJR's picture

Shazier could be listed wearing # 2 also.

+2 HS
Flxlin's picture
  • What about #47, Worn by Chic Harley and AJ Hawk , or #34... Carlos Hyde, ultraback Raymont Harris, and crazed safety Rob Kelly.
Crumb's picture

~~ARCHIE FREAKING GRIFFIN and Andy Katzenmoyer. 

No more needed to be said for 45.

Another good number with only two players that come to mind 47 Chic Harley and AJ Hawk!

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

Fort Seneca Steve's picture

 The greatest Buckeye football player ever to wear #10 - Rex Kern.  In fact regardless of the number - the greatest Buckeye football player ever...REX KERN.

Before there was Larry Bird, there was "Hondo" John Havilcek! The Pride of Martins Ferry, Ohio!

Poison nuts's picture

I would have maybe made 10 & 45 a tie or something. Either way, 45 is on this list in my mind as THE most iconic number in OSU history due to Archie....but it's all subjective. Great read regardless & thanks!

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

+1 HS
CGroverL's picture

I know that I'm crying for dumb reasons.....But do we really have to ALWAYS write that dumb B1G garbage? C'mon...when talking about players from 1933, can't we just write out "Big Ten"? To me, the "B1G" has always been dumb and never was even half as cool as when the Big Ten was the Big Ten plus Penn State...You know, when the logo had Big Ten written out but had the two 1's hidden in the writing to make an eleven?

I know that I'm crying and most everyone writes  "Big Ten"..."B1G" nowadays but there are 14 teams now. Is there any way we can put that dumb "B1G" to rest now? I mean, damn, we got rid of "leaders" and "legends". Let's do it right and get this "Bee-One-Gee" gone, right? I'm a little bit old...and when I see "B1G", I automatically think this: "Well you can tell by the way I use my walk, I'm a woman's man , no time to talk". What can I say? I see B1G and I think Bee Gees. I have since the first time I saw it written and my dumb ass just can't shake it (maybe that came out wrong?). Whatever, whatever, I suppose...As long as my beloved Buckeyes play in the best conference in the Midwest and lead that conference overall, I shouldn't be crying, right?

Go Buckeyes!!!

"I hope they're last in everything"

Thanks, Urb!

+1 HS
Chris Lauderback's picture

I admire your passion. TBH, I only write it as "B1G" because it's faster to type. That said. I may need to change my ways because I'd hate to be responsible for making anyone think of the Bee Gees! 

Rob Reese's picture

Chris, it's blogs/pieces like this that made me register at 11W.  Fantastic work.

+2 HS
Hovenaut's picture

I was still learning to master the bathroom on my own, so I really don't remember at the time. But do remember some of my elders years later talking about Cornelius Greene, and he did much more than hand off to Arch during his time in Columbus.

Like his fellow number seven Joe Cool 23 years later, Corny Greene also captured the Big Ten MVP award (1975 winner):

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Tribune_Silver_Football

Great look back at some of the best to don the S&G.

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

+1 HS
Buckeye5000's picture

Simply put: Orlando Pace is the best and most dominint college football player I have ever seen.

Excellent article...Thanks.

Go Bucks!

+2 HS
MDBuckeyenut's picture

Has there been any talk of retiring #10 in honor of Troy Smith?  I think it would be fitting since no other Buckeye dominated teams, especially TTUN, since Troy.  If we would have beaten Florida that year for the Nat'l Championship, it would have been a lock.

+2 HS
Buckeye5000's picture

People can say what they want about Tyrelle Pryor but he was 3-0 against TTUN.

Go Bucks!

+2 HS
AndyVance's picture

Not to mention that he led the Buckeyes to victories over Oregon in the Rose Bowl and Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl (I don't care if the NCAA says it didn't happen, dammit, I was there!).

+2 HS