One of the greatest Buckeyes ever has passed.
In a press release, Ohio State confirmed that Howard “Hopalong” Cassady passed away early Friday morning at the age of 85. The Columbus native died in Tampa, Fla., where he had lived the past 45 years.
“We’ve lost not only a legendary Buckeye, but also a wonderful person in Hop Cassady,” OSU athletic director 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.”
Playing his college football for OSU from 1952-55, Cassady put up what was then a school record of 2,466 rushing yards, a total that is still 19th in the program’s history. In 1954, Cassady helped Woody Hayes win his first national championship; a year later, he became the third Buckeye player to win the Heisman Trophy, joining Les Horvath (1944) and Vic Janowicz (1950).
“He was a Heisman Trophy dad as well,” one of his sons, Craig Cassady, said in a quote distributed by the school.
And as for the two-time All-American’s unique nickname? From the release:
Cassady earned his nickname of Hopalong from Columbus, Ohio, sportswriters during his first game, when he scored three touchdowns in a 33-13 win over Indiana and “hopped all over the field like the performing cowboy,” a reference to the fictional, clean-cut hero, Hopalong Cassidy.
In 1979, Cassady, who also played baseball for the Buckeyes, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.