This is the ongoing series where we re-remember lesser known Buckeye heroes.
Shortly after I began contributing to Land Grant Holy Land, I realized that I was already struggling to come up with good content for the offseason/summer months. Hell of a start, right? But unfortunately, once the NFL Draft takes place, the content well tends to dry up unless you’ve already dialed in on one of the spring sports or the NBA Draft (but as Buckeye hoops fans… you get it). Ohio State football and basketball – our most popular topics – are still part of the news cycle, but they have taken a back seat. And recruiting… well, there are people at LGHL who do a hell of a job covering it, so I wasn’t about to swim with those sharks.
I needed to think outside the box. I thought: Football is months away, basketball is months away, recruiting is speculative and subject to change… many of the topics being covered now revolve around future events or predictions. But what about former players? And I’m not talking recent or soon-to-be draftees, because those athletes are still being talked or written about.
I am referring to unheralded and underappreciated Buckeyes from decades ago, that have been forgotten by some (or most) since they last donned the scarlet and gray. And there it was: Forgotten Buckeyes. Other OSU fans and media types have taken a similar approach to recognition, but this is my personal way of appreciating those who left an indelible mark at Ohio State.
Welcome to Volume II.
Bobby Hoying | Quarterback (1992-1995)
The headline for this piece does a great job of ruining the bit, but I’ll ask anyway: Quickly, and without looking, can you name the last quarterback to hold Ohio State’s single-season record for passing touchdowns for more than a decade? From 1995 until 2006, when his record was broken by Heisman Trophy winner, Troy Smith? Well, like I said, the headline plays spoiler here, but I don’t know how many people would have guessed Bobby Hoying under different circumstances. And that is a shame, because Hoying was actually OSU’s most prolific passer of the 1990’s.
You might be wondering: Did I forget about Joe Germaine? The answer is no, not at all. Germaine did break Hoying’s single-season yardage record – and he was definitely the more accomplished quarterback in terms of individual honors, team success, bowl victories, etc. – but it was Hoying who put up greater career totals. And you can argue opportunity, attempts, or whatever else you want, but the stats are the stats, and he (Hoying) still holds a place in the top-5 of many passing categories for Ohio State. Pretty damn prolific, if I do say so myself.
Hoying committed to OSU after an outstanding high school career, during which he won (Ohio) state titles in both football and basketball. He even earned the title of Ohio’s Mr. Football in 1990, despite playing for tiny St. Henry High School (near the Indiana border). But his prep titles and individual honors meant nothing once he arrived in Columbus. Hoying would have to earn playing time, and his ability to do so was not a foregone conclusion.
The John Cooper-led Buckeyes were no juggernaut during the early ‘90s, but at least they had depth at the quarterback position in 1991 (or so they thought). Kent Graham and Kirk Herbstreit were the veterans, and chomping at the bit behind them was a highly-touted recruit from the 1990 class named Joe Pickens. Hoying was no better than fourth on depth chart, so he ended up taking a redshirt as a freshman. Maybe they should have let the kid play? Because unfortunately for Ohio State, said depth actually turned out to be a dearth of QB talent, and the 1991 team was unable to do much in the passing game. Actually, that would be putting it mildly. OSU quarterbacks couldn’t hit water from a boat in 1991.
Graham and Pickens graduated and/or transferred after Hoying’s redshirt season, but Herbstreit was still around, and the future ESPN star was eventually named the full-time starter for the 1992 season. Hoying appeared in seven games, attempting 14 passes and throwing a single touchdown. Funny enough, he actually accounted for 20 percent of Ohio State’s passing touchdowns that season. That’s right, the Buckeyes threw five touchdowns all year! Herbstreit threw four, on 264 passing attempts. How times have changed. Despite the lack of a passing game, OSU went 8-3-1 in 1992, laying the groundwork for a nice little run under Cooper. Hoying wound up being a big part of the program’s success.
Hoying became the starter in 1993, but he did not monopolize the QB position. Bret Powers was brought in from Arizona State (Cooper’s previous employer), and he appeared in all 12 games as the backup. The QB timeshare is something Buckeye fans grew accustomed to seeing from Coop, whether we liked it or not (we did not). Hoying struggled at times – which young quarterbacks are known to do – and it was Powers who had the higher completion percentage, but the Ohio kid held down the job. Both signal callers were supported by a strong run game and an opportunistic defense (18 INT), and the team finished with a 10-1-1 record.
Finally, in 1994, Hoying had the quarterback position to himself — for the most part. Because he just couldn’t help himself, Cooper deployed a young Stanley Jackson as a runner, but the gadget QB only attempted 28 passes. The Buckeyes opened up the offense just a little bit, allowing Hoying to attempt over 300 passes. He was flanked by skills players such as Eddie George, Joey Galloway, and Dimitrious Stanley, and it was his first real opportunity to let it loose and deliver on some of the promise he had shown in high school.
George was the clear star, but Hoying passed for over 2,300 yards and 19 touchdowns — the highest total by an OSU QB since 1985. Nobody was talking about Ohio State as having an air raid offense, but there were the makings of an explosive unit. The team took a step back record-wise, finishing 9-4, but there was optimism for Hoying and his teammates moving forward.
As a redshirt senior, Hoying took a blowtorch to the Ohio State record books in 1995. His numbers might look pedestrian now, but this was not your Ryan Day-coached offense. Passing was not as prevalent, and the veteran QB had to share the rock with his Heisman-winning running back. In total, Hoying set double-digit school records in ‘95. Among them were new single-season marks in passing yards (3,269), touchdowns (29), and completion percentage (61.9). Hoying, George, and Terry Glenn formed a dangerous offensive trio, and all of the sudden, Cooper’s Buckeyes went from a 9-4 team to a championship contender. They reeled off 11-straight victories and rose to No. 2 in the rankings.
Unfortunately, Hoying’s college career and the Buckeyes’ 1995 season ended with back-to-back losses. TTUN put a nail in the coffin of Ohio State’s championship hopes with a home victory in The Game, and the team then went out with a whimper (14 points scored) against Peyton Manning-led Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl. Hoying’s teams went 38-10-2 during his career, but only 1-2- in bowl games and 1-3 against the Wolverines. The quarterback did earn a First Team All-Big Ten nod for his final season, but I’m sure he would have traded the individual accolade(s) for another shot at team glory.
After leaving OSU, Hoying found varying degrees of success in different walks of life. He spent six years in the NFL, primarily as a backup. He passed for 2,544 yards and 11 TD in his professional career, which ended after the 2001 season. Hoying then went into real estate, where he has done quite well for himself in the Columbus area. He helped form Crawford Hoying, one of the premier real estate developers in central Ohio. Hoying still plays an active role in guiding the company’s new developments, and he is also very active in the local community. Buckeye fans could bump into the former quarterback at any number of events around town.
Now more commonly referred to as Bob, Hoying was elected into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008. His name is still scattered throughout the school’s record books, and the 1995 team will likely be remembered as one of OSU’s better non-championship winning teams. Hoying himself is often overlooked — especially now that J.T. Barrett, Dwayne Haskins, Justin Fields, and others have put up ridiculous stats — but the prep legend and first 3,000-yard passer at Ohio State deserves praise for helping to modernize the game in Columbus.