Ohio State Great Howard “Hopalong” Cassady Dies at Age 85

By Kevin Harrish on September 20, 2019 at 8:50 am
Howard Cassady passes.

Ohio State legend Howard “Hopalong” Cassady died at the age of 85 on Friday morning, as first reported by ABC6.

Howard “Hopalong” Cassady

  • National Champion (1954)
  • Heisman Trophy (1955)
  • AP Male Athlete Of The Year (1955)
  • Maxwell Award (1955)
  • First-Team All-American (1954, 1955)
  • First-Team All-Big Ten (1954, 1955)
  • Team MVP (1954, 1955)
  • Ohio State Athletics Hall Of Fame (1977)
  • College Football Hall Of Fame (1979)

Cassady died in Tampa, Florida, where he lived with his wife Barb, and funeral arrangements are pending, according to Ohio State.

A Heisman Trophy winner and two-time consensus All-American, Cassady was one of the greatest to ever wear a Buckeye uniform.

Cassady played all sides of the ball for Ohio State, serving as both a runner and pass-catcher on offense, returning kicks on special teams and playing defensive back on defense – and never surrendered a completion in his entire college playing career.

He was extremely versatile, but his running ability made him legendary. By the time he graduated, Cassady held the Ohio State career rushing record (2,466 yards), the career all-purpose yards record (4,403 yards) and the scoring record (222 points), none of which were broken for at least a decade.

Cassady was one of the biggest stars in college football his final two seasons, earning unanimous All-American honors in 1954 and 1955, and cemented his place in Buckeye lore when he became the third Ohio State player to win the Heisman Trophy in 1955. He was the first player to ever exceed 2,000 points in Heisman voting, receiving more than three times as many votes as any other player.

He was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 1956 NFL draft and went on to play eight seasons in the NFL with the Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles. Following his retirement from football, Cassady – who also played baseball at Ohio State – spent more than three decades working for the New York Yankees organization, including a stint as the first-base coach for the Columbus Clippers (which were then the Yankees' AAA affiliate).

Cassady was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1977 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979. His No. 40 was retired by Ohio State in 2000, making him one of just seven Buckeyes to have his number retired.

His son Craig also played for the Buckeyes from 1973-75.

“He was a Heisman Trophy dad as well,” Craig said Friday in an Ohio State news release.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said “we’ve lost not only a legendary Buckeye, but also a wonderful person in Hop Cassady.”

“He was an all-time great Buckeye in every way,” Smith said in a statement. “We will have the Cassady family in our thoughts and in our prayers.”

Hal Steinbrenner, managing general partner of the Yankees, said “Hop was a talented and beloved coach, scout and special instructor in the Yankees organization for many decades.”

“More importantly, he was a treasured friend to­ my father, who entrusted Hop with bringing out the best in our young players, many of whom never even knew that he was a football legend,” Steinbrenner said in a statement. “Always humble and with a kind word, Hop will be missed by my family and the entire Yankees organization.”

Former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and current running backs coach Tony Alford were among those who took to social media to share their thoughts on Cassady on Friday.

Cassady will be honored at Ohio Stadium during Ohio State's game against Miami (Ohio) on Saturday afternoon.

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