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Digging Deeper: Players Who Wore No. 26

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Matt Gutridge's picture
August 6, 2018 at 12:19am

We are now 26 days away from Ohio State's 2018 season opener against Oregon State. Below, you will find a list of the 37 players have worn the No. 26 for the Buckeyes since 1933.

Today's featured players are Gust Zarnas, Ashton Youboty and Robert Smith. 

Players Who Wore No. 26 At Ohio State
Joseph Heyman 1933                    
Robert Greider 1934                    
Gust Zarnas 1935-37     1937     1937   1938   1935-37
William Nosker 1938-40                   1938-40
Kenneth Coleman 1941-42                    
Richard Palmer* 1943                   1943
Bill McCarty 1943                    
John Ehrsam 1944-45                   1944-45
George Wertz 1948-49                   1948-49
Franklyn Theis 1955                   1955
Casimir Adulewicz 1959                   1959
William Mrukowski 1960-62                   1960-62
Donald Unvderferth 1963-65                   1963-65
William Anderson 1968-70         1971         1968-70
Warren Sharpp 1971                    
Joe DeFillippo 1972                    
Tom Roche 1974-77                   1974-77
James Gayle 1979-82                   1979-82
Nate Harris 1985-86                   1985-86
Brian Tuffin 1986-87                    
Jeff Bohlman 1988-90                   1988-90
Robert Smith* 1991-92         1993         1990, 1992
Anthony Gwinn 1993-96                   1993-96
Andrew Schabo* 1998-2000                   2000
Ashanti Webb 1998                   1998
Will Allen* 2000-02                   2000-02
Ashton Youboty 2003-05           2005   2006   2003-05
Tyler Moeller 2006-11                 2010, 2011 2007-08, 2010-11
Carlos Hyde* 2010                   2010
Kevin Niehoff 2012                    
Armani Reeves 2012-14                   2012-14
Tim Scott 2013                    
Devonte Butler 2014                    
Patrick Wise 2015                    
Jarrod Barnes 2015-16                 2016 2016
Antonio Wiliams 2016-17                    
Jaelen Gill 2018                    

*Wore another number at Ohio State
Did not earn a varsity letter while wearing No. 26

Gust Zarnas, OG (1935-37)
1913 (Ikaris, Greece)
Died: 2000 (Bethlehem, PA)

Ohio State
The Buckeyes were 18-6 with Zarnas on the team.
1935 Big Ten Title.
Went 3-0 against That Team and outscored them 80-0.

1937 All-American.
1937 All-B1G.
1975 Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
1978 Inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame.

Zarnas' Ohio State career per ohiostatebuckeyes.com:

Three-sport star Gust Zarnas was an All-American football guard for the Buckeyes in 1937 and played in the 1938 East-West All-Star game. He also lettered two years in baseball and one year in track. Zarnas is a member of the National Football Hall of Fame.

After Zarnas' NFL career with the Bears he founded an industrial and commercial services company called G.C. Zarnas & Co., Inc. His biography from gczarnas.com:

From his humble beginnings, Gust C. Zarnas left his hometown of Brackenridge, PA, to attend Ohio State University on a football scholarship.  As part of the school’s curriculum, he was required to work 20 hours per week.  It was the depression years, so extra money he earned was sent to his family back home.

After graduating from Ohio State in 1937, Gust played as a defensive guard for The Chicago Bears and later The Green Bay Packers.  He and his fellow Green Bay teammates were victorious in 1939’s World Championship (today’s Super bowl).

A Navy veteran of World War II, Gust served as a lieutenant senior grade and an athletic officer in the V-12 program.  He also played for the Great Lakes Naval Training Center Team, which won the Armed Services Football Championship in 1942. 

A past chairman of the Historic Preservation Fund Campaign of Bethlehem, PA, Gust participated in several fund drives to support Bethlehem area hospitals, religious organizations, higher education and services that promote the development of our youth.

Gust’s greatest passion was supporting and participating in the advancement of youth fitness and athletic organizations.  For many years, Gust was a keynote speaker and presenter at the Lehigh Valley Scholar Athlete Awards Event.

Gust was inducted into the National College Football Hall of Fame in 1975 and received the 1977 award of honor from the Boys Club of Bethlehem, PA.  Gust was also selected to the Ohio State University, American Hellenic Education Progressive Association and Allegheny-Kiski Valley All Sport Halls of Fame.

Ashton Youboty

Ashton Youboty, CB (2003-05)
1984 (Monrovia, Liberia)
High School: Klein (Houston, TX)

Ohio State
The Buckeyes were 29-8 with Youboty on the team.
2005 Big Ten Title.
2004 Defeated Kansas State 35-28 to win the Fiesta Bowl.
2004 Defeated Oklahoma State 33-7 to win the Alamo Bowl.
2006 Defeated Notre Dame 34-20 to win the Fiesta Bowl.
Went 2-1 against That Team.

2005 All-Big Ten.

Youboty's senior bio Ohio State per The Ohio State Team Guide:

6-1, 188...from Kein, TX...Is one of the top cover corners in college football...began last year as a backup to Dustin Fox, but moved into the starting lineup after Fox suffered a broken arm against Marshall in the second game of the season...was a starter the rest of the way, moving to the other side when Fox returned.

Played Michigan All-American Braylon Edwards to a draw in the fourth quarter of last year's game...had an interception, four passes broken up and three tackles against the Wolverines.

Had 60 tackles and three interceptions as a senior (in high school)...averaged over 10 yards per punt return as a junior...was recruited by a number of Big Ten schools in addition to schools in the Southwest...long jumped 22 feet and finished second in the 100 and 200-meter dashes in the district track meet as a junior.

Was born in Liberia and moved to Philadelphia when he was 4 years old...moved to Texas when he was in eighth grade. 

Youboty's Ohio State career per cbssports.com:

Youboty enrolled at Ohio State during the 2003 Winter Quarter, participating in spring drills. He played in twelve games behind Chris Gamble as a true freshman that year, producing 14 tackles (13 solos). He started three games at weak-side cornerback and six more on the strong side as a sophomore in 2004. Youboty tied for the Big Ten Conference lead with four interceptions and also deflected fourteen passes. He ranked fifth on the squad with 61 tackles (47 solos), including a sack and three stops for losses.

Youboty was awarded first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2005. He helped the team rank fifth nationally in total defense (281.33 ypg) and scoring defense (15.25 ppg) while coming up with 56 tackles (43 solos), ranking fourth on the team. He added one sack, six stops behind the line of scrimmage and a fumble recovery. He blocked a kick, intercepted one pass and deflected nine others.

In 36 games at Ohio State, Youboty started 22 times. He was in on 131 tackles (103 solos) with two sacks for minus-8 yards and nine stops for losses of 22 yards. He recovered a fumble and blocked one kick while deflecting 23 passes. He gained 79 yards on five interception returns and also had a 2-yard punt return.

Robert Smith

Robert Smith, RB (1990, 1992)
1972 (Euclid, Ohio)
High School: Euclid

Ohio State
The Buckeyes were 15-7-2 with Smith on the team.
1990 Defeated No. 6 Iowa 27-26.

1988 Mr. Football.
1989 Mr. Football.
1989 USA Today High School All-American.
1990 UPI Freshman of the Year.
1998 Pro Bowl.
2000 Pro Bowl.
2000 NFL Alumni Running Back of the Year.

Smith's senior bio per The Ohio State Team Guide:

6-2, 195...from Euclid, Ohio...Back after a year away from football...hopes to return to his form of 1990 when he rushed for an OSU freshman record 1,126 yards and was the UPI National Freshman of the Year...quit the team last August, citing a need to devote more time to his studies and questioning his own desire to play college football.

Converted to a track scholarship after he left football and competed on both the indoor and outdoor teams, specializing in the relays and longer sprints...re-joined the team in April but took part in just two spring practice sessions because of track conflicts.

His return bolsters an already strong running back corps and also gives the Buckeyes a quality kickoff returner...excellent speed and a threat to go all the way anytime he touches the ball...a fine pass receiver.

Two-time selection as Ohio's Mr. Football and a consensus All-America as a senior...rushed for 5,038 yards and 68 touchdowns during his career...2,300 yards and 34 touchdowns as a senior...won the state 100-meter dash as a junior and was second as a senior...fine student who wants to go into medicine...wore No. 32 as a freshman, but switched to No. 26 in the spring of 1991.

Robert Smith had an interesting Ohio State career.In 1990, he came to Ohio State as the only high school player to ever win Mr. Ohio twice (1988 and 1989).  

Smith broke the freshman rushing record as he ran for 1,126 yards (6.4 ypc) and eight touchdowns. 

He capped his freshman campaign off with 62 yards rushing and a touchdown in a loss to Air Force in the Liberty Bowl.

Then Smith dropped a bomb shell in August of 1991 before the start of his sophomore season per nytimes.com:

Robert Smith won't be setting any records for Ohio State this season.

The sophomore tailback said today that he would not return to the football team. The announcement ended weeklong speculation on whether Smith, who broke Ohio State's freshman rushing record last season, would play this season.

He quit the team Aug. 23, saying the coaching staff disregarded academics and the players' safety.

Although Smith said he would not return to the team this year, he did not say he would never play for Ohio State again.

"Throughout the year, I questioned the importance of what I was doing relative to my larger goals in life," he said in a two-minute statement during a news conference. "In view of these doubts, I believe neither the team nor I would benefit from my return to the football program at this time." Smith said he intended to remain at Ohio State.

Then in March of 1992 this happened per nytimes.com:

Running back ROBERT SMITH is returning to the Ohio State team he quit in a dispute with an assistant coach whom he says told him to skip class to attend football practice.

"I told the team this morning he is coming back and of, course, they're happy," Coach JOHN COOPER said yesterday. "I'm happy. Robert's happy."

Smith, who broke ARCHIE GRIFFIN's school rushing record for freshmen in 1990, quit the team last August in a disagreement with the offensive coordinator, ELLIOTT UZELAC, over his studies. Uzelac resigned as an assistant coach last month, saying he wanted to pursue other coaching opportunities.

In his junior season, and what would be his final stint in Columbus, he rushed for 819 yards (5.6 ypc) and 10 touchdowns.

Smith's career ended at Ohio State with a 21-14 loss to Georgia in the Citrus Bowl. He rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns in his final game as a Buckeye.

Robert Smith was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1993 NFL draft. He spent all eight seasons of his NFL career with the Vikings. He retired he as the all-time leading rusher in Vikings history. He wore No. 26 every season except for his rookie year.

Robert Smith was in a PBS film "Seeing in the Dark" about intellectual curiosity. In this article (7-12-08), by Jamie Turner of cleveland.com, Smith talks about his passion for astronomy. Later in the article Smith shares his one regret about his time at Ohio State:

Today, he regrets missing the season in Columbus. "If I had it to do over, I wouldn't sit it out," he said. "That meant I let a guy run me out of the program. You look like a whistle-blower if you say it outside the system, instead of staying and saying, 'I'm still here.'"

After undergoing four operations on his knee, he quit the NFL in 2000, following his best season when he was the league's second-leading rusher with 1,521 yards. The New York Giants' Jason Sehorn called him "Eddie George with another gear," referring to the Buckeyes' back who won the 1995 Heisman Trophy. Had Smith played another season at OSU, former coach John Cooper always thought he would have won college football's top award too.

In the PBS film, Smith said he quit because he no longer found the running back position "intellectually stimulating." Some will say that is so Doogie.

"It wasn't like I was bored. But it wasn't as fascinating once the game slowed down for me," Smith said.

Robert Smith shares his battle with alcoholism per Wikipedia:

On November 1st, 2013, Smith openly admitted to fighting alcoholism during his playing career on ESPN during an interview on SportsCenter. Smith explained he sought counseling and has now been sober since the birth of his son, and that his family is his daily motivation to stay sober. He also appeared on ESPN's First Take with Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless talking about his stint as an alcoholic.


No. 26 In The NFL Draft
WILLIAM ANDERSON 1971 1 23 DB 49ers

 *Wore No. 4 when drafted

Previous Numbers
99 98 97 96 95 94 93 92 91 90
89 88 87 86 85 84 83 82 81 80
79 78 77 76 75 74 73 72 71 70
69 68 67 66 65 64 63 62 61 60
59 58 57 56 55 54 53 52 51 50
49 48 47 46 45 44 43 42 41 40
39 38 37 36 35 34 33 32 31 30
29 28 27 26            

109 days until The Game.

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