99 Warriors: No. 41, Big Ten MVP, Consensus All-American and Heisman Runner-Up Keith Byars

By Kevin Harrish on July 22, 2018 at 8:05 am
Keith Byars

We're counting down the days to kickoff with “99 Warriors,” the greatest Ohio State Buckeyes by jersey number, as voted by the staff of Eleven Warriors.

No. 41 Keith Byars

RB Keith Byars

b. Oct. 14, 1963 (Dayton, OH)

  • Big Ten MVP (1984)
  • Consensus All-American (1984)
  • Heisman Runner-Up (1984)

Ohio State is tied for the most Heisman Trophy winners and program history, and the Buckeyes could easily have one more after Keith Byars' 1984 season.

Byars saw the field during his freshman season in 1982, but it wasn't until the following year that he really flashed his potential. As a sophomore, Byars was responsible for 1,558 yards from scrimmage and 21 touchdowns, averaging 6.4 yards per touch.

His junior season though, is his most memorable. Byars rushed for a then-school record 1,764 yards and 22 touchdowns and added 479 receiving yards for a total of 2,443 all-purpose yards, which remains a single-season school record. He also topped Archie Griffin's single-game Ohio State rushing record with 274 yards and five touchdowns against Illinois, and led the nation in scoring.

Following the prolific season, Byars was named Big Ten's Most Valuable Player and a consensus All-American, but finished in a narrow second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Boston College's Doug Flutie.

Byars was the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy his senior season, but played in just three games after fracturing a bone in his right foot during preseason practice. He had just 62 touches for 267 yards in his final season as a Buckeye.

Despite missing nearly his entire senior season, Byars finished his career with 4,369 total yards, 3,200 rushing yards, and 50 touchdowns, which remains second in school history. 

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