5 Ohio State football numbers that should be retired – Landof10.com

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Earlier this week, we at Land of 10 kicked off our celebration of the Big Ten’s 100th anniversary with a countdown of the greatest 100 players in Ohio State football history.

Given the rich history of Ohio State football, compiling such a list was a daunting task. Take one look around Ohio Stadium, and you’ll see the many names that have helped turn the Buckeyes into the perennial power they are today.

Those names — Smith, Horvath, George, Janowicz, Cassady, Griffin, Harley and Willis — along with their accompanying retired numbers, however, only tell a part of the story of Buckeyes football. The reality is, Ohio State would need to retire double — perhaps triple — the number of jersey numbers it already has to properly honor all deserving players.

Because of that very reason, Ohio State athletics stopped retiring numbers in 2016, although that’s not to say the Buckeyes won’t add more names to The Horseshoe’s shrine one day. Until then, those numbers simply will remain in circulation to prevent a potential jersey shortage.

Since the university instituted that policy, the Buckeyes football program has yet to honor any additional numbers, but that’s not to say they won’t in the near future. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five former players who deserve to have their names enshrined at Ohio Stadium.

Braxton Miller’s No. 5

In the modern era of Ohio State football, there might not have been a more popular player than Braxton Miller.

As a true freshman in 2011, he served as one of the few bright spots on a 6-7 Buckeyes team, thanks to his highlight-reel runs and late-game heroics. In 2012 and 2013, he turned into one of the nation’s most dangerous quarterbacks, winning the Chicago Tribune Silver football award in back-to-back years.

A torn labrum in Miller’s throwing shoulder cost him his 2014 season and ultimately, his career as a quarterback. But he returned to the Ohio State starting lineup as an H-back in 2015 and ultimately showed enough promise to get drafted by the Houston Texans in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

Although he switched to No. 1 as a senior, Miller is most associated with the digit he wore as a signal caller, No. 5. And given all Miller meant to the Buckeyes during his time on campus, that number is one worth honoring.

Braxton Miller won two Big Ten MVP awards at Ohio State. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Chris Spielman’s No. 36

There might not be a defensive player more associated with Ohio State’s history. A highly touted Ohio prospect from Massillon Washington High School, Spielman lived up to the hype — and then some. He recorded 546 career tackles, the third-most tackles ever for the Buckeyes.

The 1987 Lombardi Award winner, Spielman earned three All-Big Ten and two All-American selections over the course of his college career. He’s also been one of Ohio State’s proudest representatives off the field. The name of his late wife, Stefanie, can be found on Ohio State’s Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center, a first-of-its-kind research and treatment center.

It’s no surprise why Spielman’s No. 36 jersey is still a fan favorite among the Saturday crowds at Ohio Stadium. And it shouldn’t be long until his old number finds a more permanent home inside The Shoe.

Orlando Pace’s No. 75

When 2017 freshman Thayer Munford arrived on campus earlier this month, a No. 75 jersey was waiting for him in his locker. If the former 4-star prospect was hesitant to accept his new digits, one would have understood. After all, Orlando Pace set the standard for offensive line play at Ohio State.

The Buckeyes’ starting left tackle from the day he stepped on campus in 1994, Pace is one of the best offensive linemen in college football history. A two-time unanimous All-American and two-time winner of the Lombardi Award, the Sandusky, Ohio, native was a finalist for the 1996 Heisman Trophy, ultimately finishing fourth.

The first overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft, Pace earned seven Pro Bowl selections and served as the starting left tackle on the St. Louis Rams’ Super Bowl-winning team in 1999. Since retiring following the 2009 season, Pace has been inducted into both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

His old number has created quite the legacy — and expectations — in Columbus.

Ezekiel Elliott’s No. 15

In many ways, Ezekiel Elliott already has been immortalized at Ohio State. Attend one game at The Shoe, and it’ll be tough to miss highlights on the video board showcasing play from either his storied college or promising pro career.

So why not make it even more official?

Honoring legends is beneficial for many reasons. One of them is recruiting, and the Buckeyes might not have a more prominent face of the program now than Elliott, who became only more popular during his rookie season with the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.

The No. 2 rusher in Ohio State history and the 2015 College Football Playoff championship MVP, Elliott isn’t short on credentials either. This is one where some time might need to pass. But to many, the former Buckeyes running back already is a living legend.

Ezekiel Elliott is Ohio State’s No. 2 all-time leading rusher. (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Jim Parker’s No. 64

Arguably one of Ohio State’s most underrated alums, Jim Parker is one of the most accomplished players in both college and NFL history.

During his time with the Buckeyes, Parker served as a three-year starter at guard for Ohio State. In 1954, he helped lead the Buckeyes to their first national title under Woody Hayes. In 1955, he helped pave the way for Howard “Hopalong” Cassady to win the Heisman Trophy. As a senior, he put a cap on his own storied college career by earning unanimous All-American honors and winning the Outland Trophy.

The No. 8 overall pick of the 1957 NFL Draft, Parker went on to earn nine first-team All-Pro selections over the course of his 11-year career with the Baltimore Colts. He was part of NFL-championship teams in 1958 and 1959.

A first-team guard on Sports Illustrated’s All-Century team, Parker is a member of both the college and pro football halls of fame. Based on nothing more than merit, you’d be hard pressed to find a player more deserving of a spot in Ohio Stadium’s shrine than Parker.

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