In our ongoing series we have already looked at the following positions: wide receiver, linebacker, offensive line, defensive backs, fullbacks & tight ends, and defensive line.
Quarterback probably isn't the most famous position at Ohio State -- that would be running back, which, by the way, we are saving until last. However, no position has been as greatly scrutinized by fans as quarterback, which means that there will probably be some strong reaction to this list. Certainly opinions are varied when it comes to ranking the best to don the scarlet and gray at this position. Some think that you have to start with the signal callers who led their team to a National Championships, even if they didn't put up eye catching statistics or win individual awards. Others contend that you have to look at the numbers (completion percentage, yards, and touchdowns) as the most important consideration. At TSB we are trying to find some middle ground, factoring in all of the above. Anyway, here is our top ten list of greatest Buckeye quarterbacks.
10. Jim Karsotos - This gunslinger hailed from California, and put up some big numbers in the mid 80s in his two seasons as a starter. In fact he became the first Buckeye quarterback to register two seasons of passing for more than 2000 yards.
9. Mike Tomczak - Definitely a better passer than commentator, Mike started for three seasons in Columbus, throwing for a total of 5569 yards in his career. He then went on to a lengthy though somewhat star-crossed NFL career.
8. Les Horvath - The first Buckeye to win the Heisman, Les was really a halfback who played quarterback his senior season. He rarely ever threw the ball, and it is difficult to place him higher on the list for that reason.
7. Cornelius Greene - A brilliant runner (he rushed for 842 yards in '74 alone), Greene started three seasons, and was overshadowed by Archie Griffin, but was an excellent leader, who improved each year as a passer, and was actually voted the Big Ten MVP in 1975. Some would contend he should be ranked higher since the team went 31-3-1 with Cornelius at the controls.
6. Joe Germaine - Although he did not become a full-time starter until his senior season, Joe enjoyed three fine years in Columbus, and I contend he threw the prettiest spiral of anyone on this list. His OSU career was highlighted by a Rose Bowl win over Arizona State which he orchestrated with a great last minute drive, and he nearly led the Bucks to a perfect season as a senior, coming up just short against Michigan State. Joe still holds the record for most yards passing in a season - 3330 in 1998.
4. Craig Krenzel - Fans who saw the wounded duck passes that sometimes came out of his hand would question this high ranking, but there has never been a smarter quarterback at Ohio State, or a more solid leader. Not only did he lead the Bucks to a National Championship in 2002, Krenzel threw for over 2000 yards in both years he was a starter, and was a cunning runner, who had a knack for picking up key first downs. His pass to Michael Jenkins to pull out the Purdue game in '02 is simply legendary.
3. Rex Kern - Many rank Rex number one all-time because of his record as a starting quarterback from 1968-70 (27-2), which included leading the Buckeyes to the Promised Land as a sophomore. He was a gritty competitor, an excellent runner, and an amazing leader, but Woody didn't let him pass much, and Rex never threw for more than 1002 yards in a season. He did finish third in the Heisman voting in 1969, and remains number one in the hearts of many longtime OSU fans.
2. Art Schlichter - When he headed north on I-71 from the Washington Court House area, Art became the most ballyhooed high school player to ever sign with the Buckeyes. For the most part he lived up to the accolades, starting for four seasons, throwing for 7547 career yards (number one on the all-time Buckeye list), and leading OSU to a perfect regular season in 1979. Had Charles White of USC not scored with 1:32 left in the Rose Bowl, Art would have had a National Championship ring to go with his many other awards. Of course he would have probably hocked it for cash during one of his gambling sprees but that's another story!
1. Troy Smith - Who else? Troy is a classic rags to riches story, signing as an "athlete" in the class of 2002, in which Justin Zwick was supposed to be the star. But it was Troy who used his arm and legs to lead the team to three straight wins over Michigan, and to the National Championship game his senior season. In that final year, Troy threw for a Buckeye record 30 touchdowns, while connecting on 65.3% of his passes, all of which earned him numerous awards including the Heisman Trophy. Troy finished his OSU career with an amazing passing efficiency of 157.1.
Others who deserve mention include Greg Frey, Tom Matte, Rod Gerald, Todd Boeckman (go check his junior numbers), and Terelle Pryor (who should move up the list this season).
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