Buckeye Pipelines: Cris Carter, Todd Bell and Jalin Marshall Highlight Middletown's Ohio State Talent

By Matt Gutridge on June 18, 2022 at 10:10 am
Cris Carter
Kirby Lee – USA Today Sports

Buckeye Pipelines puts the spotlight each week on a high school program who has had numerous and notable alumni go on to play for the Scarlet and Gray.

This week, we take a look at a school that has produced 17 Ohio State football players since 1970: Middletown.

The Middies have had at least one alum on the Buckeyes’ roster in every decade between the 1970s and 2010s, headlined by Cris Carter, who went on to become an all-time great at Ohio State and in the NFL.

Middeltown Middies
2021 RECORD 1–8



Middletown has hit some rough times on the football field in recent years, but it’s only been seven years since a former Middie played for the Buckeyes, as Jalin Marshall was the most recent Middletown product to wear the scarlet and gray.

There have been plenty of other Middletown products who have gone on to have successful careers at Ohio State before and in between them, as well.

Notable Buckeyes from Middletown

DB/LB Todd Bell (1977-1980)

Bell earned All-Big Ten honors at linebacker in 1979, then switched to cornerback and was made the All-Big Ten team at that position in 1980.

He is perhaps best known for his game-winning touchdown against Michigan in 1979. With just over 10 minutes remaining in the game, Ohio State forced Michigan to punt from its own 38-yard line. The Wolverines led 15-12 when Brian Virgil attempted to punt, but Jim Laughlin and Michael D'Andrea broke through the line and obliterated the ball. Bell recovered the pigskin at the 15-yard line and raced in to give Ohio State an 18-15 lead.

The Chicago Bears drafted Bell in the fourth round of the 1981 NFL draft. He played in the Windy City between 1981 and 1986 and made the Pro Bowl in 1984. He played his final two NFL seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and finished his career with 103 games played and seven interceptions.

At Middletown, Bell was an All-American and two-time All-Ohioan at linebacker. Bell also won three state championships in the long jump, breaking Jesse Owens’ high school record with a 24-foot, 6 1/4-inch leap in 1977.

Bell died in March 2005 at the age of 46 after suffering a heart attack while driving his car in Reynoldsburg.

WR Cris Carter (1984-1986)

As a Buckeye, Carter was known for his route running, one-handed catches and the confidence that oozed off of him. Heading into his senior season, Carter was already the career leader in receptions (168) and receiving touchdowns (27).

Carter's name was also on top for the two best single season receiving seasons in Ohio State history. His 69 catches for 1,127 yards in 1986 were a program-best and his 58 receptions for 950 yards in 1985 were second-best at the time.

His individual accomplishments at Ohio State included earning team MVP, All-American and All-Big Ten honors in 1986. He also earned All-Big Ten honors as a sophomore in 1985.

Carter was ruled ineligible for his senior season for signing with an agent. Had he been able to play that year, he would likely be Ohio State's career leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches.

The Philadelphia Eagles selected Carter in the fourth round of the 1987 supplemental draft. He was cut by the Eagles in 1990 due to off-field troubles, but got his career on track after being signed by the Minnesota Vikings. In all, Carter caught 1,101 passes for 13,899 yards and 130 touchdowns in 234 NFL games over 16 seasons. 

Carter was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013. During his acceptance speech, Carter apologized and expressed regret for the way his Ohio State career ended.

As a Middie, Carter was a two-time All-Ohioan and a Parade All-American. He caught 80 passes for more than 2,000 yards during his high school. He was also a star on the basketball court, scoring 1,600 points in three seasons.

As good as Carter was, he does not believe he was the best athlete to walk the halls of Middletown High School. In A Football Life: Cris Carter, the Hall of Fame receiver said that honor belongs to his older brother, Butch Carter, who went on to play basketball at Indiana and in the NBA. 

"I had one person who wore purple that I wanted to play like when I grew up,” Carter said. “My hero was my father figure, he was my brother and he happened to be the best athlete that ever came through Middletown. And that was Butch Carter, and he was my hero.” 

WR Jalin Marshall (2013-15)

As a redshirt freshman in 2014, Marshall caught the second-most passes for a freshman in Ohio State history, hauling in 38 receptions for 499 yards and six touchdowns. At the time, the only freshman with more catches in a season was Cris Carter in 1984.

Marshall followed that up by catching 36 passes for 477 yards and five touchdowns in 2015. Although he had two years of eligibility remaining, he opted to enter the NFL draft.

Marshall landed with the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent and caught 14 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns as an NFL rookie. He has not played in another NFL game since, though he currently plays for the CFL’s Edmonton Elks.

At Middletown, Marshall played quarterback and rushed for a school-record 4,759 yards during his career. As a senior, Marshall ran for over 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns and also passed for 2,240 yards to lead Middletown to a Greater Miami Conference championship, the school's first in over 20 years.

Marshall also competed in track and field at Middletown and won the 2012 Division I long jump championship with a 23-foot leap.

Middletown Buckeyes (1970-2021)
29 DB JEROME DAVIS 1973-74 Played in 11 games during his two seasons. Played HB and CB.
25 DB/LB TODD BELL 1977-80 Two-time All-Big Ten, scored the winning TD against Michigan in 1979. All-American and two-time All-Ohioan as a linebacker.
39 CB SONNY GORDON 1983-86 Captain in 1986, started in 36 of the 46 games he played in. Led the team with seven interceptions and was second on the team in tackles as a senior. All-Ohioan at safety.
2 WR CRIS CARTER 1984-86 Team MVP, All-American and two-time All-Big Ten. Two-time All-American, caught 80 passes for over 2,000 yards; scored 1,600 points in three seasons of basketball.
17, 3 CB/LB SEAN BELL 1984-88 Played in 29 games without a start, had 8 tackles in 1987. All-Ohioan in football and also had the best long jump in the country as a senior.
20 DB DWIGHT SMITH 1984-88 Played in 29 games and made seven starts, led the team with two interceptions as a senior.  Played football and basketball, 
63 LB DEDRICK HOWARD 1985-87 Did not see any game action during his time with the team. All-Ohioan at DE and the UPI Defensive Lineman of the Year.
75 OL JOHN PETERSON 1987-90 Started all 12 games of his senior year at guard. All-Ohioan, All-American and Ohio Lineman of the Year, broke the Middletown shot put record that was owned by Jerry Lucas.
73 OT PAUL SHERRICK 1988-91 Played in two games for three minutes as his career was derailed by back surgery. All-Ohioan and All-American in football.
8, 29 HB JEFF COTHRAN 1991-93 Started 19 games and rushed for 874 yards and six touchdowns. All-Ohioan and All-American, broke his hand as a senior, but still rushed for 1,850 yards and 21 TDs in limited action.
38, 22, 5 S DAN COLSON 1992-96 The last Buckeye to wear the No. 22, played in 29 career games, recorded seven tackles as a senior. All-Ohioan and SuperPrep All-American.
11 WR MIKE YOUNG 2000-03 2002 Academic All-Big Ten, played in 2 games for a total of 2 minutes.  
60 LS KYLE ANDREWS 2001-04 Three-year starter at long snapper, walk-on who earned a scholarship at the end of the 2003 season. Played DT and DE at Middletown.
52 DL SAM WILLIAMS 2002 On the 2002 roster.  
13 DB ANDRE AMOS 2005-09 Recorded 31 tackles in 24 games. Second-team All-Ohio, played both WR and DB, had seven INTs and caught 35 passes for 500 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior.
94, 17 DL RASHAD FRAZIER 2012-14 Transferred from Purdue in the summer of 2012, recorded 13 tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss during the 2014 championship season. All-County and All-Cincinnati player who had 55 tackles and 5.5 sacks as a senior.
17 WR JALIN MARSHALL 2013-15 Caught 74 passes for 976 yards and 11 touchdowns in only two playing seasons. Played QB and rushed for a school record 4,759 yards during his career, passed for 2,240 yards as a senior; won the 2012 D1 long jump.

More about Middletown

Middletown is located in Butler County and is in the Greater Miami Conference. The current high school was built in 1969, but received a multi-million dollar upgrade in 2016.

The football team competes in Division I, Region 2. The Middies went 1–8 last year and have struggled in recent years.

Since 2016, the program has won six games and has lost 50. The team went went 0–10 in 2016 and had an 18-game losing streak that spanned the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

The last time the Middies had a winning record was 2011. The team went 9–1 in the regular season and won a playoff game.

Across all sports, Middletown has won nine state championships. The boys' basketball team has seven titles, which were the most for any Ohio school until St. Vincent-St. Mary claimed its eighth title in 2018. The Middletown boys' cross country and boys' track teams each have one championship.

Jerry Lucas

Arguably Ohio State's best basketball player, Lucas helped the Buckeyes win the 1960 NCAA title and guided the team to three-consecutive NCAA finals. He was named the NCAA Player of the Year in 1961 and 1962 and is the only men's basketball player to earn three Big Ten Player of the Year honors. 

Lucas won an NBA championship with the New York Knicks in 1973. The smooth shooting and rebound-grabbing power forward made seven NBA All-Star teams during his 11-year career. In 1980, Lucas was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame with Oscar Robertson and Jerry West.

The NBA honored Lucas as one of its 50 Greatest Players in 1996 and he was also selected for the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team.

Lucas is also known for his remarkable memory. He wrote The Memory Book, a New York Times best seller. Lucas used his skill to memorize the majority of the Bible's New Testament.

Now 82 years old, Lucas lives with his wife in California.

Other famous alumni

In addition to the 17 Middies who have gone on to play football at Ohio State, there are many other alumni from Middletown who have achieved success in the sports world and elsewhere, including:

Why are Buckeyes who only played prior to 1970 and some walk-on players not highlighted or included in the rankings? Ohio State's official rosters listed the hometown of players but did not provide their high school on the roster before 1970. Walk-on players who were never on a season-opening roster also were not included in Ohio State’s media guides.

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