Five most underrated Ohio State football players in Buckeyes history.
In its long history, Ohio State has won eight national championships and sported seven Heisman trophy winners. They have so many recognizable names, the only two-time Heisman winner Archie Griffin, along with Eddie George, Troy Smith, and Ezekiel Elliott.
Those guys are some of the greatest to ever play college football, let alone put on the scarlet and gray. But who are some of the guys that were great in their own right, but didn’t get the recognition that they deserved?
These players probably won’t ever be in the College Football Hall of Fame, and they certainly have never even sniffed the Heisman. But they are still worth mentioning even if they weren’t heavily recognized in their time, and most fans don’t know their names today.
Ohio State football has produced several NFL superstars, but these former Ohio State Buckeyes are the most underrated Ohio State football players ever.
Pepper Johnson was a dynamite linebacker for Ohio State football.
Playing from 1982-1985 at linebacker for the Buckeyes, Pepper Johnson was a player that never really got much credit for how good he was in college.
Johnson is No. 6 in Ohio State football history in total tackles with 379 and was the leading tackler on the 1984 and 1985 Ohio State teams. Both of those teams went 9-3 and the ’84 squad won the Big Ten before falling in the Rose Bowl.
Johnson was a captain on both of those teams as well as being voted the team defensive MVP for both too. Around Columbus, Johnson was a popular player, and fans knew how important he was to that defense. But nationally, it was a bit of a different story.
The only award that Johnson won in college was being named an All-American following the 1985 season. He wasn’t named an All-American in 1984 despite making 140 tackles in that season.
Simply put, Johnson was a tackling machine at Ohio State but has been overshadowed by some of the other greats from the Buckeyes at the position. While, no, he isn’t the greatest linebacker that Ohio State has ever seen, he still deserves to be in the conversation as one of the all-time greats but never is.
Johnson would be able to prove himself even more once he got to the NFL. He was drafted with the No. 51 pick in the second round of the 1986 draft by the New York Giants. With the Giants, he would win two Super Bowls in 1986 as well as in 1990. In the 1990 season, he would be recognized by being selected to the Pro Bowl, as well as being named first-team All-Pro. He would be named to the Pro Bowl one more time in his career in 1994 with the Cleveland Browns as well.
One of the all-time Buckeye greats at linebacker, Johnson’s name has always been lost in the mix, and that is why he takes the No. 5 spot on this list.