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. 20 Neal Colzie
More than 40 years removed from playing his final game as a Buckeye, Neal Colzie still ranks as one of Ohio State's most productive defensive backs and punt returners ever.
CB Neal Colzie
b. Feb. 28, 1953 (Fitzgerald, Ga.)
d. Aug. 20, 2001 (Miami, Fla.)
- First-Team All-American (1974)
- First-Team All-Big Ten (1973, 1974)
- Team Captain (1974)
- Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame (2009)
A three-year starter at cornerback from 1972-74, Colzie recorded 15 interceptions over those three years, the fifth-most in Ohio State history. Colzie earned first-team All-American honors in 1974, when he had eight interceptions, still tied for the third-most in a single season by an Ohio State player.
Colzie still holds Ohio State's school record for the most punt return yards in a season, gaining 679 yards on 40 punt returns in 1973, when he was also a first-team All-Big Ten cornerback. He set what still stands as Ohio State's school record for punt return yards in a game in that same season, gaining 170 yards on eight punt returns against Michigan State, and also still holds the Ohio State career record for punt return yards per attempt (minimum one punt return per game played) with 14.3.
Also a team captain in 1974, Colzie was selected by the Oakland Raiders with the No. 24 overall pick in the first round of the 1975 NFL draft, and went on to play nine total NFL seasons with the Raiders, Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, recording 25 career interceptions and gaining 1,759 career punt return yards.
Colzie, who died at the age of 48 after suffering a heart attack in 2001, was posthumously inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.
Photo: Ohio State Dept. of Athletics