It’s the doldrums of almost summer and you are most likely stuck between queueing up last year’s Rose Bowl victory over Utah on the DVR for the umpteenth time, reading rankings and lists that include Ohio State, and yearning for the start of the college football season.
Sounds like a perfect time to kick off a series we are embarking upon here at Buckeyes Wire. We call it the “face of the position” and it’s really exactly as it sounds. When you think of a position group at Ohio State, who do you think of? From quarterback to linebacker, to placekicker and beyond, OSU has some of the most iconic and historical college football players that have taken their place among the best in the game.
However, one player stands out above all else when you shroud them behind the colors of scarlet and gray, and that’s where we are going to ask for your assistance.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting players that are in the running for the face of a position at Ohio State and asking for your vote in a Twitter poll to have one player identified as the one you think immediately at that position.
We’ve already looked at the quarterback position, and now we’re moving on to running back. It’s a position that’s often been considered the Cadillac group in the history of Ohio State.
We’ll keep voting up for five days, and at the end of it, we’ll reveal the winner of each. Make sure you scroll to the bottom to cast your vote from the nominees and write in a candidate if you think of another player.
Aug 1974; Columbus, OH, USA; FILE PHOTO; Ohio State Buckeyes running back Archie Griffin (45) during the 1974 season. Credit: Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Why he’s considered
The only two-time Heisman Trophy winner is an easy pick to have his lamb chop sideburns chiseled in stone on the Mt. Rushmore of OSU running backs.
At the time, Archie was the first true freshman to ever start at running back for the Buckeyes. Sure, it was the first year freshmen were eligible to play, but he blew the doors off the myth that freshmen weren’t ready for that level. He finished his career with 5,589 rushing yards, the most in Ohio State history and a record that will likely never be broken with most skilled runners being drawn to NFL millions. Archie also boasts a 3-0-1 record against TTUN.
Griffin had a less than stellar NFL career after being drafted in the first round by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1976. He played seven seasons with 2,808 rushing yards and only seven TDs. But hey, this is the Mount Rushmore of Ohio State running backs and Archie is royalty.
Oct 21, 1995; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back Eddie George (27) runs the ball against the Purdue Boilermakers at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes beat the Boilermakers 28-0. Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Why he’s considered
Who could forget the chants… Ed-die, Ed-die while sitting in the shoe or in front of your TV? The first time I witnessed Eddie George run the ball, he fumbled on the 2-yard line and it was returned for a touchdown. I wasn’t sure he would amount to much after that. Instead, he ended up being one of my all-time favorite Buckeyes.
George was just plain fun to watch. Those long strides made it look like he was moving in slow motion until you realized he was leaving everyone else in the dust. Eddie still holds the single-season rushing record with 1,927 yards and a whopping 148 yards per game average, along with the single-game rushing record of 314 yards at the time against Illinois in his 1995 Heisman-winning season.
Eddie had an impressive NFL career rushing for 10,441 yards and 68 touchdowns, especially considering the short shelf life of most professional running backs.
Jan 12, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) runs past the Oregon Ducks defense in the first quarter for a touchdown in the 2015 CFP National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium. Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Why he’s considered
85 yards through the heart of the south – might be every Buckeye fan’s favorite memory. If not, it has to be pretty high on the list.
Elliott burst onto the scene as a sophomore, but he became a Buckeye legend in the postseasons of 2014-2015. Zeke carried OSU with 696 rushing yards in wins over Wisky in the Big Ten Championship, Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, and the Oregon Ducks in the CFP national championship game.
At the time of graduation, Zeke has the No.’s 2 and 3 best rushing seasons by a Buckeye, gaining over 1,800 yards, and a combined 41 rushing touchdowns in each season as a starter. He also had five of the top 20 rushing performances in OSU history. Statistically speaking, it might be the best 2- year run of any OSU back ever.
Zeke had it all – speed, vision, hands and was great in pass protection.
It’s still too early to tell what Elliott’s NFL career will become, but it’s definitely off to an outstanding start. Here’s to hoping Zeke’s off-field issues begin to fade into the background.
Sep 1984; Columbus, OH, USA, FILE PHOTO; Ohio State running back (41) Keith Byars in action against the Washington State Cougars at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Photo by Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Why he’s considered
Keith Byars was a rare combination of size and speed. He was a bruising back who could cut on a dime, run by or through you — even while wearing just one shoe.
After an incredible ’84 season, Byars came into the next season as the Heisman favorite. Unfortunately, a foot injury kept us from knowing if he could live up to the hype in 1985. He ended his career with 3,200 yards on the ground. Byars also had 46 rushing touchdowns, good for No. 2 all-time among OSU running backs at the time, trailing only fullback Pete Johnson.
Byars enjoyed a 13-year NFL career but was better known for his pass catching than his running as a professional. He finished his career with 3,109 yards rushing and 5,661 yards receiving. He also threw six touchdown passes, which are the 3rd highest by any running back in NFL history.
Face of the running back position Twitter Poll. Vote!
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