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. 18 Merle Wendt
Long before programs recruited prospects from all corners of the country, Middletown native Merle Wendt was courted by schools as far away as Southern California. He opted to stay home and play for Ohio State under head coach Francis Schmidt, however.
END Merle Wendt
b. April 7, 1915 (Middletown, OH)
d. Feb. 12, 2000 (Ashland, OH)
- All-American (1934-36)
- All-Western Conference (1934-36)
- Team Captain (1936)
- Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame (1981)
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Wendt started out his career as a center, but quickly moved to end — which was effectively a wide receiver or tight end at that time on offense and pretty self-explanatory on defense — because of his speed. Local newspapers described him as " a great pass-catcher, hard tackler and tops in defense.” He was named All-Western Conference and an All-American his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, becoming just the fourth player in program history to be named a three-time All-American.
Wendt — who is one of just eight players to hold such distinction — went undefeated against Michigan, outscoring the Wolverines 93-0 in those contests. His brothers, Chester and Emerson, also played basketball and football for the Buckeyes.
Wendt was selected in the sixth round (59th overall pick) of the 1937 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers, but elected pursue a career in chemical engineering instead. He spent his entire professional career with Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, where he was the director of chemical engineering and product development.
Wendt — who was married to his college sweetheart, June, for 63 years — earned the Goodyear Spirit Award prior to his retirement in 1975. He passed away in 2000.
Photo: Ohio State Dept. of Athletics