Ohio State’s Best Players from Every State

By Matt Gutridge on July 4, 2024 at 8:35 am

On a day when we celebrate America, we’re taking a look at Ohio State’s best players of all-time from every state.

Scouring over every Ohio State roster dating back to 1916, we’ve identified the best Buckeyes from every state.

From our research, 40 of the nation's 50 states have produced Ohio State football players. Ohio State has never had a player from Alaska, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont or Wyoming.

Below, we take a look at each of the 40 states that have had Ohio State football players and the best players to come out of each of them.

Alabama (3 players)

Best Player: RB Quinshon Judkins

Surprisingly, the Yellowhammer State has only provided Ohio State with three players. The first was defensive tackle Donte Wheat in 1981, followed by receiver Willie Salter in 2001. Wheat and Salter only made one Ohio State roster and neither made the stat book.

This leaves current Ole Miss transfer Judkins as the best player from Alabama even though he has yet to wear a scarlet and gray jersey in a game. 

Arizona (13 players)

Best Player: QB Joe Germaine

Germaine split time at quarterback with Stanley Jackson for most of his Buckeye career. When given the reins in 1998, Germaine was named the Big Ten MVP, team MVP and All-Big Ten honoree.

Current Ohio State cornerback Denzel Burke and quarterback Devin Brown are also from the Grand Canyon State. Burke was named to the All-Big Ten team last season and has a chance to surpass Germaine as Arizona's best if he picks up more honors this season.

Arkansas (1 player)

Best Player: WR K.J. Hill

The receiver from North Little Rock became the first Buckeye to arrive in Columbus from Arkansas. He was on Ohio State's roster between 2015 and 2019 and never lost a game to Michigan.

Hill led the Buckeyes in receptions during the 2017 and 2019 seasons and finished his Buckeye career with a program-record 201 receptions. He was selected by the Los Angeles Chargers in the 2020 NFL Draft. 

California (43 players)

Best Player: WR Chris Olave

Olave made his presence known as a freshman when he caught two touchdown passes and blocked a punt in Ohio State's 62-39 victory over Michigan in 2018. He cemented his Buckeye legacy over the next three years.

Olave is the program's career leader in touchdown receptions and ranks third on the career all-time receptions list and fifth on the career receiving yards list. Had the 2020 season not been shortened, Olave would likely be the program leader in all three categories.

Other recent Buckeye standouts from California include QB C.J. Stroud, OG Wyatt Davis and WR Michael Thomas.

Colorado (4 players)

Best Player: WR Chris Sanders

Sanders caught 70 passes for 1,114 yards and eight touchdowns during his time in Columbus. His best season was during his senior year of 1994 when he had a career-high 35 catches for 533 yards and all eight of his touchdowns.

Other Ohio State players from the Centennial State are Joey O'Connor (2012), Sam Hart (2021-23) and current Buckeye offensive tackle George Fitzpatrick.

Connecticut (5 players)

Best Player: CB Scott Leach

Leach gets the nod as the best player from Constitution State. He was on the roster from 1982 through 1986 and racked up 125 tackles, 1 sack (8 yards), 5 tackles-for-loss (16 yards), 2 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, and 5 pass breakups during his time in Columbus. 

Note, Leach was listed as being from Connecticut in 1982 and 1983, but from White Plains, New York, for the remainder of his Buckeye career. 

OL Louis Pietrini was on four Ohio State rosters with Harry Larson and Michael Roth listed on one each. Miles Walker is entering his second season with the Buckeyes but has not yet played in a game.

Delaware (1 player)

Best Player: WR Charles Hunter

Hunter might be the only person from Delaware to make an Ohio State roster, but he wore many hats. Hunter was listed as a fullback as a freshman, a tight end for his sophomore and junior years and a wide receiver during his senior year of 1979.

For his career, Hunter caught 16 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns with seven completions, 144 yards, and both touchdowns coming during his last year. 

Florida (96 players)

Best Player: DE Joey Bosa

Florida has been good to Ohio State. Eight of the Sunshine State's 96 players were listed in our Four Kings series, but Bosa stood out among the fierce competition as the best from Florida.

Bosa, or Big Bear, was a consensus All-American and the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year in each of his final two seasons in Columbus. He also earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2014, as he helped Ohio State win a national championship.

Other Floridians who ranked among the top 10 players at their respective positions in last year’s Four Kings voting were CB Neal Colzie, WR Michael Jenkins, CB/WR Chris Gamble, WR Santonio Holmes, LB Ryan Shazier, TE Jeff Heuerman and DE Nick Bosa.

The four current Buckeyes from Florida are Brandon Inniss, Kenyatta Jackson Jr., Bryson Rodgers and freshman stud Jeremiah Smith.

Georgia (46 players)

Best Player: QB Justin Fields

Fields transferred to Columbus from Georgia as a junior for the 2019 season. Arguably Ohio State's most talented all-around quarterback ever, Fields was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2019 and was the Big Ten Silver Football winner in 2020.

He finished his Ohio State career with a 20-2 record – undefeated in the regular season –and threw for 5,373 yards and 63 touchdowns while rushing for 867 yards and 15 touchdowns during his time with the Buckeyes. Fields was also a few votes away from claiming the top spot at quarterback in our Four Kings series, finishing second to Troy Smith

Bradley Roby and Vonn Bell were also in consideration for the best Buckeye from The Peach State. Current Buckeyes from Georgia are Koji Antwi, Bennett Christian, Caleb Downs, Jordan Hancock, Eddrick Houston, Kayden McDonald, Seth McLaughlin, Air Noland and Jelani Thurman.

Top 10 States
Ohio 2,500+ Archie Griffin, Troy Smith, Howard "Hopalong" Cassady
Pennsylvania 112 Eddie George, Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Hooker
Florida 96 Joey Bosa, Chris Gamble, Ryan Shazier 
Michigan 56 Pepper Johnson, Johnathan Hankins, Craig Krenzel
New York 55 Will Smith, John Brockington, Pete Johnson
New Jersey 54 Jack Tatum, Malcolm Jenkins, Jordan Fuller
Texas 47 David Boston, J.T. Barrett, J.K. Dobbins
Georgia 46 Justin Fields, Vonn Bell, Bradley Roby
California 43 Chris Olave, C.J. Stroud, Michael Thomas
Illinois 40 Warren Amling, Mike Tomczak, Evan Spencer

Hawaii (2 players)

Best Player: P Scott Terna

The two players from Hawaii are Terna and OL Enokk Vimahi. Terna punted for the Buckeyes in 1993 and 1994 and takes the top spot over Vimahi, who only started two games in five seasons before transferring to Washington this offseason.

Idaho (1 player)

Best Player: DT Tommy Togiai

The only Buckeye from the Gem State is Togiai. The 6-foot-2, 300-pound DT from Pocatello, Idaho played three years for the Buckeyes, recording 49 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 3 sacks.

Illinois (40 players)

Best Player: G Warren Amling

Amling spent part of his time in Columbus during World War II. The only member of the College Football Hall of Fame to also start in the NCAA's basketball Final Four, Amling played football for the Buckeyes from 1944-46.

Other standout Buckeyes from The Land of Lincoln are Mike Tomczak and Eric Kumerow. Current players from Illinois are receivers Carnell Tate and Nolan Baudo.

Indiana (37 players)

Best Player: WR Terry McLaurin

McLaurin spent five years with the scarlet and gray and improved his stat production each season. He finished his Ohio State career with 75 receptions for 1,251 yards and 19 touchdowns.  

After getting drafted by the team then known as the Washington Redskins in the third round of the NFL Draft, Scary Terry was named to the 2019 All-Rookie Team and to the Pro Bowl in 2022. He’s topped the 1,000-yard mark in each of his last four seasons with the Commanders.

Current Ohio State players from the Hoosier State are Caden Curry, Josh Fryar, Zen Michalski, Josh Mickens and Ian Moore.

Iowa (6 players)

Best Player: HB Elmer Marek

Marek's claim to fame is scoring a touchdown against Illinois in Red Grange's final collegiate game in 1925. At the time, the 84,295 who paid to watch Grange play in Columbus were the most ever to watch a sporting event.

It's been 64 years since a player from Iowa played for Ohio State. The last was running back Richard Haupt in 1960.

Kansas (3 players)

Best Player: OL Jamie Sumner

Sumner transferred to Ohio State and was on the roster for two seasons. He played left guard for the Buckeyes and is best known for his block against Notre Dame in 1995 that sprung Eddie George in his iconic long run against the Irish in Ohio Stadium.

The other two players from the Sunflower State are running back Ward Perry (1939) and defensive lineman Mark Bean (1989-91).

Kentucky (20 players)

Best Player: FB Bob White

White was an All-American in 1958 and led the Buckeyes in rushing yards and scoring. The hard-running fullback also finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting that season. 

Louisiana (4 players)

Best Player: RB Jonathan Wells

Wells was Ohio State's leading rusher in 2001. He averaged 5.4 yards on 232 carries and finished the season with 1,257 yards and 15 touchdowns. He ranks eighth on Ohio State's career rushing list with 2,262 yards.

Nader Abdallah, Jyaire Brown and Victor Cutler are the other Buckeyes to hail from The Bayou State.

Maine (1 player)

Best Player: WR Peter Gwilym

Gwilym was on Ohio State's roster during Urban Meyer's first three seasons in Columbus (2012-14). He did not catch a pass during his time with the Buckeyes.

Maryland (24 players)

Best Player: CB Shawn Springs

Springs, the No. 3 overall pick of the Seattle Seahawks in the 1997 NFL Draft, edges out Chase Young, Dwayne Haskins and Isaiah Prince as the Old Line State's top player. Springs earned All-American honors and was named the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year during his final season in Columbus. 

At the time, Springs was the highest-drafted cornerback ever. Since then, Jeff Okudah and LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. have also been selected at the third position. 

Massachusetts (16 Players)

Best Player: RB Bobby Watkins

Watkins led the Buckeyes in rushing during his junior season and was Ohio State's leading scorer for the 1954 national championship team his senior year. He played four seasons in the NFL after being selected by the Chicago Bears in the second round of the 1955 NFL Draft.

Michigan (56 players)

Best Player: LB Pepper Johnson

Ohio's neighbor to the north has provided the Buckeyes with some talent. Vernon Gholston, Johnathan Hankins and Craig Krenzel all made their mark on the program. However, Johnson gets top billing from Michigan.

The All-American and two-time All-Big Ten linebacker won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants and came just shy of tallying 1,000 tackles during his 13-year NFL career. 

Minnesota (5 players)

Best Player: LB James Laurinaitis

Ohio State's most decorated linebacker, Laurinaitis was a three-time consensus All-American, Bronko Nagurski, Butkus and Lott Trophy winner. During his time in Columbus, the Buckeyes won four Big Ten titles and played in two national championship games. Laurinaitis led the team in tackles in three consecutive seasons and was a captain twice.

A special tip of the cap goes to Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame coach Sid Gillman, who was an All-Big Ten end for Ohio State.

Mississippi (1 player)

Best Player: TE Craig Robinson

The only player from Mississippi to make an Ohio State roster was Robinson. The 6-foot-3, 234-pound tight end from Jackson was on the team for the 1990 season.

Missouri (16 players)

Best Player: RB Ezekiel Elliott

The talented running back from The Show-Me State did just that for the college football world during an amazing three-game stretch during the 2014 post-season. Elliott rushed for 696 yards and eight touchdowns and ran through the Heart of the South as his legs helped carry the Buckeyes to wins over Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon en route to the first College Football Playoff title. 

Nevada (4 players)

Best Player: DT Haskell Garrett

Overcoming a bullet to the face, Garrett earned the Polynesian Football Player of the Year and All-Big Ten honors as a senior. The only other Buckeyes from The Silver State are Sean Colosimo, Tathan Martell and Palaie Gaoteote IV.

New Jersey (54 players)

Best Player: DB/LB Jack Tatum

Malcolm Jenkins, Jordan Fuller and Bruce Jankowski would be the best players for many states, but Tatum gets the honor for New Jersey. The hard-hitting safety originally arrived in Columbus as a running back before switching sides of the ball during the spring of his freshman year. 

The move proved fortuitous as Tatum was a consensus and unanimous All-American as a junior and senior. The Buckeyes won the national championship in 1968 and went 27-2 during the College Football Hall of Famer's three seasons on the field. 

New York (55 players)

Best Player: DE Will Smith

The Empire State has provided Ohio State with stellar running backs, such as Matt Snell, John Brockington, Pete Johnson and Curtis Samuel, but a defensive player gets the nod for the state's best Buckeye.

Smith was a standout defensive lineman on Ohio State's 2002 national championship team and was named the Big Ten's Defensive Player and Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2003. The New Orleans Saints selected Smith in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft. He was named to the All-Rookie team in 2004, the Pro Bowl in 2006 and won Super Bowl XLIV with the Saints. 

North Carolina (13 players)

Best Player: DE Tyquan Lewis

As a sophomore, Lewis led Ohio State in sacks as the team won the inaugural College Football Playoff title. He was a two-time All-Big Ten player and was named the conference's Defensive Player of the Year in 2016. Lewis was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 2018 and recently signed a two-year extension with the Colts.

Ohio (2,500+ players)

Best Player: RB Archie Griffin

Our great state has produced over 2,500 players for the Buckeyes, but only one has earned the program two Heismans. Some players from Ohio had better pro careers, but none can match what Griffin did during his four seasons in Columbus.

(Note: With so many players from the Buckeye State, we will have another article at a later date with a unique twist that will highlight Ohio's best.)

Oklahoma (1 player)

Best Player: S Josh Proctor

The Sooner State's only Buckeye is Proctor. The safety helped the Buckeyes win three Big Ten titles and two Rose Bowls over his six-year career and earned third-team All-Big Ten honors in his final season in 2023.

Pennsylvania (112 players)

Best Player: RB Eddie George

Ohio State's neighbor to the east has provided the team with exceptional players like Jan White, John Frank, Tom Skladany, Brian Stablein, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Malik Hooker. However, 1995 Heisman winner George is The Keystone State's best Buckeye.

During his Heisman season, George rushed for a single-season school record 1,927 yards, was the Chicago Tribune's Silver Football Award winner and rushed for a then-school record 314 yards against Illinois. George is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and his No. 27 is retired in Ohio Stadium.

South Carolina (4 players)

Best Player: CB Derek Ross

Although many Ohioans travel to South Carolina for summer vacation and winter getaways, only four players from The Palmetto State have been Buckeyes. Ross made his mark by blocking punts and finished his career in Columbus ranked fourth in interception return yards.  

South Dakota (2 players)

Best Player: QB Lincoln Kienholz

Grant Schmidt and Kienholz are the only Ohio State players from South Dakota. Kienholz gets the nod as he is now on the roster for a second season compared to Schmidt's one-and-done.

Tennessee (9 players)

Best Player: RB Master Teague III

Teague beats out Dallan Hayden as Tennessee's best Buckeye. Teague racked up 1,661 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns over four seasons with Ohio State. 

Texas (47 players)

Best Player: WR David Boston

Texas has brought Ohio State some serious talent. Garrett Wilson, Rickey Dudley, J.K. Dobbins, Jeff Okudah and J.T. Barrett would be the best players from many states, but Boston gets Texas' top honors. During his three years in Columbus, Boston held 12 receiving records, was a two-time All-Big Ten player and earned All-American honors in 1998.  

Utah (2 players)

Best Player: OL Branden Bowen

The first player from Utah was H.E. Chambers who was a quarterback for the Buckeyes in 1926 and 1927. However, Bowen is currently The Bee State's best because he finished his career with 18 starts on the offensive line. 

Virginia (27 players)

Best Player: RB TreVeyon Henderson

Ron Springs, Ricardo Volley and Tyleik Williams are Virginia natives that deserve some love. Although he is still playing, Henderson is Virginia's top Ohio State player. The fast back was named to last year's All-Big Ten team and has amassed 2,613 rushing yards and 31 rushing touchdowns over three seasons. Henderson also broke Archie Griffin's freshman single-game rushing record of 239 yards when he ran for 277 yards and three touchdowns against Minnesota in 2021.

Washington (5 players)

Best Player: DE J.T. Tuimoloau

Three of the five Buckeyes from The Evergreen State have enrolled since 2020. At this point, it's a toss-up between Emeka Egbuka and Tuimoloau being Washington's best. We'll give the honor to Tuimoloau since he’s a two-time first-team All-Big Ten honoree, though this one could be decided by who has the better senior season in 2024.

West Virginia (35 players)

Best Player: DL Darrion Scott

Scott was another defensive line standout on Ohio State's 2002 national championship team. He was named to the All-Big Ten team in 2002 and was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2004 NFL draft.

Wisconsin (3 players)

Best Player: OL Carson Hinzman

Hinzman started 12 games at center for Ohio State last season and remains in the mix for a starting job on Ohio State’s offensive line this year. The only other players from The Cheese State are running back George Zavistoske and center Jimmie Meckstroth.

Going Global

We need to recognize the five countries that have produced 13 players outside our borders. Canadians lead the international flavor with seven Buckeyes. Cornerback Mike Roberts was the last Canadian on the team roster (2002-05). 

Ohio State has had four players from Australia, and not surprisingly, all of them have been punters. Cameron Johnston gets our nod for being the best from Down Under.

Germany (DT Hero Kanu), Nigeria (DB Chris Ntkukogu) and South Africa (K Ryan Pretorius) have each had one player wear the scarlet and gray.

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