The Ohio State Buckeyes are one of college football’s preeminent programs, having claimed eight national titles. Not only are they in the annual discussion as a national championship contender, but they consistently produce quality professional talent.
Boiling down rankings and lists to a handful of items can be incredibly challenging. Doing one for the 5 best Ohio State Buckeyes in program history is no different. That doesn’t mean we won’t take a stab at it though.
Ohio is set to launch its sports betting industry on Jan. 1, 2023. From an Ohioan’s perspective, the best feature of Ohio’s upcoming sports betting industry is the ability to bet on college athletics, including in-state programs. It would’ve been a massive letdown for Ohioans if they weren’t able to bet on the state’s flagship sports brand.
The only thing left for Ohioans to do is wait patiently. In the meantime, they can familiarize themselves with the industry’s top sports betting apps and pick apart our list of Ohio State’s 5 best players of all time.
There’s certainly no formula to such an impossible task. However, multiple factors were taken into consideration, including but not limited to college and professional accolades, production, and contributions to winning organizations/seasons.
5. Cameron Heyward, DT
Heyward played 13 games in each of his four collegiate seasons. The Buckeyes finished 44-8 overall with defenses that ended the season ranked first, sixth, fifth, and fifth in the nation and earned trips to four major bowl games, including the BCS Championship in 2008. Heyward was drafted No. 31 overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2011, and since then has racked up three All-Pro nods. Interior linemen don’t typically rack up gaudy sack totals, but Heyward has 68 and counting. He’s served as a stalwart on three top-five defenses units and several playoff teams over his career.
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4. Archie Griffin, RB
Griffin is considered one of the best college football players of all time, so he certainly deserves his spot on this list. Not only did he earn a significant role as a freshman — far from a given in 1972 — but he excelled with his opportunity. Griffin won the Heisman Trophy in 1974 and 1975 and remains the only player to win college football’s most prestigious award multiple times. He helped lead the Buckeyes to four straight Rose Bowl appearances and three top-five finishes in the AP Poll. Griffin played seven seasons in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals.
3. Eddie George, RB
George had to bide his time as an underclassman before exploding over his final two campaigns. It was worth the wait though. George erupted as a senior with 2,344 scrimmage yards and 25 touchdowns, beating out Tommy Frazier (Nebraska) and Danny Wuerffel (Florida) for the 1995 Heisman trophy.
George kicked off his NFL career in dominant fashion as well. He accumulated 1,400 total yards in six of his first seven seasons. “Availability is the best ability” is a familiar refrain, and he demonstrated impressive durability, playing 16 games in each of his first eight seasons. At 6-3, 235 pounds, George was a punishing runner, not dissimilar to current Titan freight train Derrick Henry. George’s career cratered after leading the NFL with 453 touches in 2000, a criminal degree of volume. For context, Najee Harris led the league with 381 touches. George’s work that season did earn him a first-team All-Pro selection though.
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2. Cris Carter, WR
Carter led the Buckeyes in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in each of his three seasons in Columbus. He did the same in the receptions department in two of his three seasons on campus, portending eventual Hall of Fame production. Carter’s NFL career kicked off with some ups and downs. He caught 89 passes across his first three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. This wasn’t the pass-happy NFL we’ve come to know, but he still ended up in Minnesota in Year 4, and was soon on his way to an eventual Hall of Fame induction.
1. Orlando Pace, LT
Pace started on the Buckeyes’ offensive line from Day 1 — only the second true freshman to start on opening week. Pace helped anchor the offensive line for an Ohio State program that went 31-7 during his three years in Columbus. Naturally, offensive linemen don’t have a lot of mainstream statistics to cite, but Pace was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft nonetheless.
He was five spots ahead of Walter Jones, who like Pace, earned a Hall of Fame bust in Canton, Ohio. Gil Brandt, a former vice president of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys, lists Pace as one of the top left tackles of all time. Pace protected the blind side of Kurt Warner, a fellow Hall of Famer, and won the Super Bowl with the then-St. Louis Rams. His personal accolades also include three first-team All-Pro nods and seven Pro Bowls.