One of Ohio State football’s all-time greats reportedly has died.
Howard “Hopalong” Cassady, Ohio State’s third Heisman Trophy winner, passed away in Tampa, Fla., early Friday morning.
His family shared the news with WSYX TV in Columbus, where he was born in 1934 and become a star athlete for the Scarlet and Gray, and the school later confirmed it.
Cassady’s son, Craig, also played for Ohio State and told the school’s sports information department, “He was a Heisman Trophy dad as well.”
The College Football Hall of Famer ran for 2,466 yards and scored 31 touchdowns from 1952-55 for the Buckeyes.
In 1954, he ran for 701 yards as Ohio State won the national championship, the second in school history and the first of five under coach Woody Hayes.
Cassady produced perhaps the biggest play of that season (and all of Buckeye football history) on the other side of the ball in a matchup between No. 2 Wisconsin and No. 4 Ohio State at Ohio Stadium.
The Badgers led 7-3 in the third quarter and had driven deep into Ohio State territory when Cassady picked off a Wisconsin pass and returned it 88 yards for a game-turning touchdown that gave the Buckeyes the lead and produced the first of 28 straight points in a 31-14 OSU victory that propelled Hayes’ team to the top of the national rankings.
(Cassady’s pick-six was the longest play by an Ohio State player at Ohio Stadium until Wayne grad Will Allen’s 100-yard interception return for a touchdown against North Carolina State in 2003.)
A year later, Cassady gained 958 yards on the ground and scored 15 touchdowns en route to being named the Associated Press Athlete of the Year and winning the Heisman Trophy.
“We’ve lost not only a legendary Buckeye, but also a wonderful person in Hop Cassady,” OSU director of athletics Gene Smith said in a statement. “He was an all-time great Buckeye in every way. We will have the Cassady family in our thoughts and in our prayers.”
He also won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football as the Big Ten's most valuable player.
Cassady was also a star shortstop for the Buckeyes and later in life worked as a scout for the New York Yankees and worked for the Columbus Clippers when they were a Triple-A affiliate of the club.
His No. 40 was retired in 2000, and he will be honored during the Buckeyes’ game against Miami University on Saturday afternoon at Ohio Stadium.