Amid Ohio State’s 50-28 win against Cincinnati on Saturday evening, 13 former Buckeye athletes and coaches — including a Heisman winner and a NFL Pro Bowler — became the newest members of the OSU Athletics Hall of Fame.
Of the 13 inductees, two of the most notable former Buckeyes were Antoine Winfield, a three-time NFL Pro Bowl cornerback, and Troy Smith, the recipient of the 2006 Heisman Trophy.
Tessa Bonhomme (women’s hockey), Nancy Darsch (women’s basketball coach), Rosalind Goodwin (women’s track and field), Ralph Guarasci (men’s golf), Russ Hellickson (wrestling coach), Boaz Ellis (fencing), Bob Vogel (football), Ralph Wolf (football), Becky Kim (synchronized swimming), Tami Smith (women’s track and field) and Jeremy Wurtzman (men’s tennis) were each recognized on the Ohio Stadium turf on Saturday along with Winfield and Smith, following the official Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony on Friday evening.
Prior to Saturday’s ceremony, Winfield said he was looking forward to the festivities, and he looked at his legacy and what he wanted visitors to see when they saw his name on the Hall of Fame plaque.
“The little engine that could,” Winfield said. “For my size, all I wanted (was) to go out there and play hard every time I stepped on the field. I was very confident in my ability. I knew I could do pretty much anything once I got on the field.”
Winfield’s confidence might have helped him to a successful career in the NFL, but he said he also looks back to his days on the practice field at OSU, where he said the daily competition took him to the next level.
“We had some really good players here. Good wide receivers — David Boston, Terry Glenn, Dee Miller — guys who I would practice with and compete against who would make the games easier for me,” Winfield said. “I was working against the best competition on my team, so just the level of competition got me ready for the NFL.”
As the Buckeyes’ latest Heisman Trophy recipient, Smith saw his fair share of accolades at OSU, but this Hall of Fame honor is one he started dreaming of as a student.
“I remember looking at the Hall of Fame pictures then, walking down that aisle. Whether it was Jesse Owens, whether it was Butch Reynolds, whether it was Scoonie Penn basketball-wise, it’s always been great tradition here,” Smith said. “To feel that you’re a part of the tradition, to know that you are part of the rafters, to know that unless they burn it down, it won’t be moved, that means something.”
Since his playing days at OSU, Smith has made various stops in both the NFL and the Canadian Football League and said no matter where he might be, it’s the lessons he learned as a Buckeye that stay with him.
“You better believe that if you step into a situation where the native tongue is nothing that you understand, you better treat somebody with some decent mannerisms because that’s the only thing that they know,” Smith said. “Ohio State helped me come from being a knucklehead into, I would like to believe, a decent person.”
Smith and Winfield might have been the most recognized, thanks to the memories they made in Ohio Stadium, but they certainly weren’t the only Buckeyes who made considerable contributions to athletics at OSU.
Together, the other 11 members of the class of 2014 amassed numerous All-American selections, national championships and one Super Bowl champion and an Olympic gold medal winner.
Bob Vogel, who played left tackle for the Super Bowl V champion Baltimore Colts following the 1963 NFL Draft in which he was the fifth overall selection, said that throughout this induction experience, he’s been thinking of the woman who made it all possible.
“I became an Ohio State fan because my mom was an Ohio State fan,” Vogel said. “I wish that my mom were able to be here because this would be a thrilling experience for her.”
Former OSU women’s ice hockey player Tessa Bonhomme brought home the gold medal as part of the Canadian national team in the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver and said even on the world’s biggest stage, there was an instant Buckeye connection.
“I was facing off against a fellow Buckeye as well in Lisa Chesson (of Team USA). Both of us actually got to start the game and I remember looking across the ice at her like, ‘Can you believe this?’” Bonhomme said. “The gold medal was obviously something truly special, but, don’t get me wrong, today ranks up there right next to it.”
No matter where their athletic accomplishments took place, the inductees all seemed thrilled to be back in Columbus.
“Once you’re a Buckeye, you’re always a Buckeye,” said Kim, the USA Olympian and former OSU synchronized swimmer. “You just come back and mesh like you never were apart.”
Smith took Kim’s thoughts even further.
“We hold Ohio in its entirety dear to our hearts,” Smith said. “This is home.”