Editor’s note: In June 1917, the Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives invited Michigan back into the league, increasing membership to 10 and eventually spawning the iconic “Big Ten” nickname. One hundred years later, Land of 10 will spend the summer looking at the history of America’s legendary conference and its teams.
Our Ohio State coverage begins with a countdown of the top 100 football players in program history. Up first, numbers 100-91.
No. 100: P/PK Tom Skladany (1973-76)
Tom Skladany was a bit of a trailblazer as the first specialist in Ohio State history to receive a scholarship. He showed why he was worth it, becoming a three-time All-American at punter. He is one of just eight players in Ohio State football history to end his career with that distinction. Skladany was named to the Ohio State All-Century team in 2000, and in 1991 was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame.
Although he was known more for his punting prowess, Skladany also booted a 59-yard field goal that still stands as the program record. He was the first specialist to captain an Ohio State team, becoming a captain in his senior season in 1976.
The Ray Guy Award for most outstanding punter didn’t come into existence until 2000, but it’s a safe bet that Skladany would have walked away with at least one if not more. He led the nation in punting in 1975 with an average of 46.7 yards.
No. 99: DE Van DeCree (1972-74)
Van DeCree earned All-American honors twice at Ohio State, doing so in 1973 and again in 1974. In 1973, he was also a first-team All-Big Ten selection. DeCree was named to the Ohio State All-Century team in 2000 and in 1990 was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame.
In 1973 he finished with 63 tackles and 4 tackles for loss for 25 yards. One year later, he had a nearly identical season, compiling 65 tackles and 4 tackles for loss for 20 yards and a defensive touchdown.
No. 98 WR Devin Smith (2011-14)
Devin Smith helped propel Ohio State to a national championship in 2014, emerging as the team’s home-run hitter at wide receiver. As a senior that season, he caught 33 passes for 931 yards and 12 touchdowns. He set an Ohio State record by averaging 28.2 yards per catch, which also was the highest total in the nation that season. The 3 touchdown passes he caught from Cardale Jones in the 2014 Big Ten title game ignited a rout that led to the Buckeyes’ inclusion in the College Football Playoff.
He was among the Buckeyes’ best receivers all four years of his career. His 14 catches and 4 touchdowns as a freshman both tied for first on the team. In each of the next two seasons he was second in catches and receiving yards, and he was first in touchdowns in 2012. As a senior, he led the national championship-winning team in receiving yards and touchdowns
No. 97 RB Robert Smith (1990, 1992)
Robert Smith had one of the more unusual careers in Ohio State history in that he left in the middle of it to run track and focus on school but later returned. When he was on the field for the Buckeyes, though, he was quite a talent.
He led Ohio State in rushing in both 1990 and 1992, and in 1990 he was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year. That season, he rushed for 1,126 yards and 8 touchdowns, averaging 6.4 yards per carry. After he returned, he rushed for 819 yards and 10 touchdowns in 1992.
No. 96: T Chuck Csuri (1941-43, 1946)
Chuck Csuri is perhaps more well known, outside of Ohio, at least, as a pioneer in computer graphics. He passed up a chance to play pro football to continue his education, but he was pretty good at football, too.
Csuri was an All-American and the MVP of the 1942 team that delivered Ohio State its first national championship in football. He was named to the Ohio State All-Century team in 2000, and in 1993 was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame. He also is listed as a captain of the 1943 team.
No. 95 FB Jim Otis (1967-69)
Jim Otis led the Buckeyes in rushing all three years he played at Ohio State. He was part of the 1968 national championship team that is considered as perhaps the best in program history. He was named to the Ohio State All-Century team in 2000, and in 1996 was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame.
In 1967, he rushed for 530 yards and 2 touchdowns. He broke out in 1968, carrying the ball 219 times for 985 yards and 17 touchdowns. Otis’ output the following year was just as good, as he notched 1,027 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was an All-American and finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1969.
No. 94 LB Raekwon McMillan (2014-16)
Raekwon McMillan arrived at Ohio State as a 5-star prospect and lived up to the hype. He made an immediate impact, splitting time at middle linebacker with Curtis Grant as a true freshman on the 2014 team that won the College Football Playoff.
He led Ohio State in tackles in 2015 with 119 and in 2016 with 102. He just missed out on first-team All-America honors in 2016 but was a unanimous selection to the second team. McMillan was first-team All Big Ten in his final season in Columbus and also was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award and the Lott IMPACT Trophy.
No. 93 T Jim Marshall (1957-58)
Jim Marshall is known more for his pro football career as a defensive end, and there’s been little written about his college football career.
He spent two years at Ohio State before leaving to pursue a pro career in Canada. Marshall was an All-American in 1958, and the Buckeyes went 15-2-2 during his time in Columbus. Marshall was named to the Ohio State All-Century team in 2000, and in 1978 was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame.
No. 92 LB Darron Lee (2013-15)
In his short time in Columbus, Darron Lee was a playmaker extraordinaire. After redshirting in 2013, Lee burst onto the scene in 2014 spring practice. He scored the first and last touchdowns of the 2014 regular season, returning fumbles against Navy and Michigan. Lee was the defensive MVP of Ohio State’s monumental Sugar Bowl win against Alabama and was named a freshman All-American in 2014.
He was disruptive in both years he started. In his debut season in 2014, Lee amassed 16.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks and 2 interceptions. The next year, he finished with 11 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, and he returned an interception for a touchdown.
No. 91 PK Mike Nugent (2001-04)
During his four-year career at Ohio State, Mike Nugent rewrote the program’s record book. He is the program’s all-time leading scorer with 356 points and holds the team record for field goals made in a career, completing 72 of 88 attempts. He is first and second on the list of most field goals made in a season.
Nugent was a two-time All-American for the Buckeyes. He first earned that honor during the 2002 national championship season and again in 2004. Those two seasons rank second and third on the list of highest accuracy percentage by a kicker in Ohio State history.
In 2004 he won the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s best kicker. He was named Ohio State’s MVP that season, becoming the first kicker to win that honor.