Year of the Buckeye.
The Ohio State Buckeyes, with their Super Sophomores, won the national championship in 1968. But, there were other strong teams in the Big 10 in 1968 like Purdue, Minnesota, Indiana and Michigan.
Dennis Brown – Michigan: Brown started 9 out of 10 games for the Wolverines in their 8-2 season in 1968. He broke most of Michigan’s passing records while the quarterback there including all time passing yardage. He was a quick and gifted athlete and his quick passing was hard to defense. As a senior, he threw for over 1,500 yards and ran for over 200 yards. Brown went into coaching after his playing days.
Harry Gonso – Indiana: Watching old games, I have been pretty impressed with Harry Gonso. At 5-11, 195 Gonso was not an NFL prospect, but he rolled out on most plays and completed most of his passes on the run. He led the Hoosiers to their one and only Rose Bowl appearance in 1967 and they lost to national champion USC. Gonso was back in 1968 and led the Hoosiers to a 6-4 record. The Hoosiers aren’t known for their football prowess, but Gonso was one of their all time greatest.
Noticeably absent was Purdue quarterback Mike Phipps, probably the premiere passing quarterback in the Big 10 and maybe the nation in 1968.
Ron Johnson – Michigan: Great Michigan running back that never got the publicity of Leroy Keyes and others. He ran for over 1,000 yards in 1967 and then ran for almost 1,400 in 1968. Johnson broke all of the Michigan rushing records at the time and made most All American teams. On the Associated Press AA team, he was second team. Johnson also finished 6th in the Heisman race. He was a first round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns, but had a disappointing rookie season when they moved him to fullback. He was traded to the New York Giants and had a good career for them making All Pro twice.
Leroy Keyes – Purdue: Keyes was all everything at Purdue, He was a consensus All American and
he placed 2nd in the Heisman Trophy voting only behind OJ Simpson of USC. Keyes actually had less yardage than Ron Johnson of Michigan, but Keyes was also a valuable receiver out of the backfield. Keyes also played cornerback and was the 3rd player picked in the 1969 NFL draft.
Ed Podolak – Iowa: Tough as nails and every Polish kid’s hero. Podolak wasn’t particularly big at 6-1, 205 or particularly fast, but he was tough and fought for every yard he ever gained. At Iowa, he played quarterback and running back. As a senior in 1968, Podolak ran for just under 1,000 yards at over 6 yards per carry. After Iowa, he was a 2nd round draft pick by the Kansas City Chiefs where he played for 9 years and won a Super Bowl.
Perry Williams – Purdue: Fullback Williams was way ahead of his time at 6-2, 220 with speed and talent. A good blocker, Williams also was a threat in the running game as well as a receiver out of the backfield. Purdue had one of the more dangerous backfields in the country in 1968. Williams was a 4th round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers.
Rich Johnson – Illinois: There were 3 terrible teams in the Big 10 in 1968 and the Illini won 1 game all season. Johnson never ran for over 1,000 yards in a season, but his senior year of 1968 was his best with 973 yards on the ground. Johnson was drafted by the Houston Oilers, but only played a year in the NFL.
Rex Kern – Ohio State: Not sure who made these lists, but Kern was the quarterback at Ohio State and the MVP of the Rose Bowl. Kern was a good enough athlete to have played running back. Kern was undoubtedly the leader of the Super Sophomores and helped the Buckeyes win the 1968 national title.
Jim Otis – Ohio State: Bruising fullback was Woody’s boy and the leading rusher for the Buckeyes in 1968 and 1969. Woody loved the fullbacks and ran Otis almost exclusively at times. Otis topped 1,000 yards in 1969 and the 6-0, 225 was drafted by the New Orleans Saints. He was traded to the Chiefs after one season and then finished his 9 year career with the Cardinals of St Louis. He had a successful 9 year career in the NFL.
John Isenbarger – Indiana: As a sophomore in 1967, Isenbarger helped the Hoosiers to the Rose Bowl. In 1968, he led them in rushing and earned some All Big 10 Conference mention. In 1969, Isenbarger ran for over 1,200 yards and was picked by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2nd round where he played for 4 seasons.
WR and TE:
Jade Butcher – Indiana: Butcher was not a burner, but a very good receiver for the Hoosiers. He was Gonso’s go to guy on passing situations and a very dependable receiver. That Indiana team was about Gonso, Isenbarger and Butcher, well of course the offensive line. Butcher was All Big 10 in 1968 and 1969 and a first team All American in 1969 when he caught 37 passes.
Jim Mandich – Michigan: Tough tight end that was a junior in 1968. He led the Wolverines in receptions in 1968 with 42. Nicknamed Mad Dog, Mandich played like one and was a consensus All American the next season in 1969. After Michigan, he was drafted by the Miami Dolphins and he
played 9 years in the NFL and was a part of that only undefeated team in NFL history.
Bruce Jankowski – Ohio State: A member of the incredible Super Sophomore recruiting class, Jankowski was an All State running back at Fair Lawn, New Jersey. At Ohio State, they had plenty of running backs and moved Jankowski to split end. Playing for Woody Hayes, his best season was in 1968 when he caught 31 passes. He was a 10th round draft pick by Kansas City, but he only played a couple of years in the NFL.
Ray Parson – Minnesota: Huge tight end for his day at about 6-4, 245 and in 1968 he caught 30 passes for the Gophers. He only played at Minnesota for two seasons and was drafted by the Detroit Lions where he was converted to offensive tackle.
Al Bream – Iowa: Bream was a big receiver at 6-3, 205. His best year was in 1967 earn he caught 55 passes and he only caught 29 passes in 1968. The Hawkeyes finished 5-5 in 1968, but they had a few good players such as Bream.
Rufus Mayes – Ohio State: Starting off at tight end, Mayes moved to offensive tackle as a senior and it paid off royally for him. He was a 2nd team All American and then a 1st round draft pick by the Chicago Bears. Mayes played for the Bears for one season before they traded him to the Cincinnati Bengals where he was a long time starter at left tackle. Mayes finished his NFL career after 11 seasons in Philadelphia.
Dave Foley – Ohio State: The standout tackle opposite of Mayes, Foley was also a star. Foley was a 3 year Academic All American and he was a consensus All American in 1968 when the Bucs won the national title. The Cincinnati native Foley, was a 1st round draft pick in 1969 by the New York Jets where he played 3 seasons. He was traded to Buffalo where he was an All Pro while blocking for OJ Simpson.
Clanton King – Purdue: The Big 10 was light years ahead of conferences in the south and they had great black players like Rufus Mayes and Clanton King. King came to Purdue as a defensive tackle and he switched over to the offensive line. King blocked for Bob Griese and Mike Phipps and also Leroy Keyes.
Dan Dierdorf – Michigan: Pro Football Hall of Fame member, Dierdorf was just a sophomore in 1968. He was a second team All American in 1969 and then a consensus member of the team in 1970. Dierdorf was not only inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but also the Michigan Hall
of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame. He played 13 seasons in the NFL and was one of the all time greats, obviously.
Ezell Jones – Minnesota: A large offensive lineman for the times at 6-4, 255, Jones was a star for the Gophers and then a 4th round draft pick by the Boston Patriots. As good as he was, he only played 2 seasons in the NFL.
Gary Roberts – Purdue: From West Virginia, Roberts came to Purdue and played offensive guard for the Boilermakers. At 6-2, 245 Roberts was a fireplug and a steamroller up front and a good run blocker for stars like Leroy Keyes.
Jon Meskimen – Iowa: Cedar Rapids native Meskimen came to Iowa as a fullback, but moved to offensive guard pretty quickly. Meskimen started a few games as a sophomore in 1967 and moved into the starting lineup and All Big 10 in 1968. He was team captain in 1969. After graduation, he got into high school coaching.
Dick Enderle – Minnesota: The Gophers were a powerhouse in the 1960s. Enderle started all three years he was eligible and was a starter in 1967 which was the last Gopher team to win, or share, a Big 10 title. Enderle’s career didn’t end with college when he was a 7th round draft pick by the Atlanta Falcons. He played 8 years in the NFL.
Stan Broadnax – Michigan: One reason I write about the Big 10 is they gave black kids the opportunity to play football when the south would not. Stan Broadnax is a success story that ends sadly. He was an all Big 10 offensive lineman that became a physician in Cincinnati. But, later on he became a cocaine addict and ruined his life. Broadnax was a tough offensive lineman for the Wolverines.
Ron Saul – Michigan State: One of three brothers that played at Michigan State. Ron was a sophomore on the 1966 team that won the national title. He was drafted by the Houston Oilers in the 1969 NFL draft and he played there for 6 seasons before being traded to the Washington Redskins where he played 6 more seasons.
Angelo Loukas – Northwestern: Born in Greece, Loukas moved to the United States and went to school in Chicago. The 6-3, 250 Loukas was a standout on a bad team at Northwestern and then went on to play a couple of years in the league.
Jack Rudnay – Northwestern: Out of the Cleveland area, Rudnay signed with Northwestern and became the starting center. After the 1968 season, Rudnay was drafted in the 4th round by the Kansas City Chiefs. Rudnay played for the Chiefs for 13 seasons and made multiple Pro Bowls.
Phil Seymour – Michigan: A cousin to Michigan tight end Paul Seymour and Notre Dame All
American wide receiver Jim Seymour. But, Phil was a player as well. He was All Big 10 in 1968 and 1970 and an Academic All American in 1970. He went on to become a lawyer. Seymour was a tall and athletic defensive end.
Bob Stein – Minnesota: Not only was Stein a star defensive end, but he was also the team’s kicker. Stein was a two time All American at end and also an Academic All American and Academic All Big 10. Drafted in the 5th round by the Kansas City Chiefs, Stein played 6 years in the NFL before attending law school. A brilliant man, Stein became the General Manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Dave Whitfield – Ohio State: The uncle of quarterback guru, George Whitfield Jr. Dave Whitfield was an all Big 10 outside linebacker/defensive end. Whitfield was a team captain in 1969 during his senior season.
Tom Bilunas – Indiana: Bilunas was a local guy from Merrillville that was a starter for the only Rose bowl team in the history of the Indiana Hoosier football program. Besides All Big 10 honors, Bilunas was also Academic All Big 10.
Bill McKoy – Purdue: I’ve seen him listed as McCoy and McKoy, both. He was a good player no matter how you spell his name. I remember him getting a late sack against the Fighting Irish to help put the game away.
Charles Bailey – Michigan State: Bailey was a 3 year starter including his sophomore season in 1966 when the Spartans were national champions.
Tom Goss – Michigan: Knoxville, Tennessee native was a leader of a stout Michigan defense. His career ended after Michigan, but later he was the Athletic Director at his alma mater.
Bill Yanchar – Purdue: The 6-3, 250 Euclid, Ohio native was a standout member of the really good Purdue Boilermaker team that was ranked number one at the beginning of the year. Yanchar had an outstanding game in one of the few games I was able to watch.
Paul Schmidlin – Ohio State: A three year starter on the defensive line for some of the greatest
Buckeye teams of all time. The Buckeyes won 22 straight with guys like Schmidlin in the lineup. Schmidlin relied on quickness to impress.
Henry Hill – Michigan: A walk-on out of Detroit, Hill used superior quickness to work his way from 4th string to a starter and All Conference as a sophomore. Hill played over the center much like Stillwagon at Ohio State. Hill was 5-11, 220 on his very best day, but his speed was outstanding enough where he was about unblock able. The former walk-on became a 3 year starter and a first team All American in 1970. Hill ran a 4.6 40 yard dash for Bo Schembechler.
Ron Kamzelski – Minnesota: Very highly recruited defensive lineman back in the 1960s. He was a three year starter at defensive tackle on some good Gopher football teams. Kamzelski was drafted by the Cleveland Browns, but he chose to finish school and become a doctor.
Chuck Kyle – Purdue: Smaller nose guard, but very quick and aggressive. Jim Stillwagon and Chuck Kyle were kind of similar. Kyle was All Big 10 for three straight years and an All American in 1968. He was drafted in the 5th round by the Dallas Cowboys but cut before the season started. But, he made his way to the Canadian Football League where he played a few years. He ended his football career by being cut by the New York Jets.
Jim Stillwagon – Ohio State: Stillwagon was a killer up front, slightly undersized but possessing super strength and quickness and able to make plays from sideline to sideline. Stillwagon was never very big, but he was athletic enough to play middle linebacker and could drop into coverage. Stillwagon won the Outland and Lombardi awards in 1970 when he was a senior and he later played in the Canadian Football League.
Ken Criter – Wisconsin: Home grown Wisconsin kid, Criter was an All Conference Linebacker in 1967 and 1968 and a difference maker. Criter was drafted by the Denver Broncos where he played for 6 seasons. He played linebacker and was a special teams guru for the Broncos back in the early days.
Jack Tatum – Ohio State: Another strange selection since Tatum was a sophomore safety and another one of the incredible 1967 recruiting class called the Super Sophomores. Tatum came to Ohio State from New Jersey as a running back, but was converted to safety. Tatum was about as good as it go as far as defensive backs. Tatum was a 1st round draft pick by the Oakland Raiders and was famous for his hard hitting and especially the hit that paralyzed Darryl Stingley.
Noel Jenke – Minnesota: Jenke was one of those special athletes that come around every now and then. He played 4 sports in high school, football, basketball, baseball and hockey. Out of the beautiful community of Owatonna, Minnesota he signed with the Gophers where he lettered in 3 different varsity sports. He played football where he was an All Big 10 and on some All American lists. He also played hockey and baseball at Minnesota. He was also drafted by professional teams in all 3
sports. He was picked by the Atlanta Falcons and he played there a season as well as a couple in Green Bay. Jenke also was picked in the first round by the Boston Red Sox, but he never got past the minor leagues in baseball.
Tom Stincic – Michigan: From Cleveland, Ohio Stincic was one of those guys that used to infuriate Woody Hayes by heading to that school up north. Stincic was a pro sized linebacker at 6-2, 230 and he was a 3rd round draft choice by the Dallas Cowboys after his 1968 senior season. He played a few seasons in the NFL with the Cowboys and then finished with another season in New Orleans.
Rich Saul – Michigan State: The twin brother of All Big 10 offensive guard Ron Saul. Older brother Bill Saul played 9 seasons in the NFL. Saul is here on the All Big team as a linebacker, but he was drafted as an offensive lineman by the Los Angeles Rams where he played for 12 seasons making the Pro Bowl 6 times and developing into one of the better centers in the NFL in his time.
Mark Stier – Ohio State: The Buckeye team MVP in 1968. Stier was a team leader at linebacker and a team captain. Stier was an Academic All American and All Big 10 in 1968. After football, Stier became a pastor.
Jim Sniadecki – Indiana: Sniadecki was a solid linebacker and was pretty big for his times at 6-2, 230. He helped the Hoosiers to their only Rose Bowl appearance and was an All Big 10 performer in 1968. After this season, he was drafted in the 4th round of the 1969 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers and he played for them for 5 seasons before heading on to the World Football League before that league folded.
Bob Yunaska – Purdue: No doubt about it, these were the good times of Purdue football. Yunaska was a big play guy for the Boilermaker defense and especially in the 1968 Notre Dame rivalry game where he picked off Terry Hanratty and was in on many stops.
Al Brenner – Michigan State: Brenner was a sophomore on the 1966 national championship team, He was not only an All Big 10 member in 1968, but he was also an All American that season. Brenner was a 7th round pick by the New York Giants where he played a couple of seasons. But, then, he moved on to the CFL where he played for 7 more years. He was an All Star in the Canadian Football League and intercepted 15 passes in a single season. He also picked off Joe Theisman 4 times in a single game. Brenner was also a part of a very strange story in which he disappeared for 8 years before resurfacing. Brain damage?
Tom Curtis – Michigan: Curtis picked off 10 passes in 1968 and his total of 25 career interceptions still stands as a Michigan record. While 10 interceptions is always fantastic in a single season, 1968 was the year that Al Worley intercepted 14 passes which is a record that still stands. Curtis came to Michigan, from the state of Ohio, as a quarterback and converted to safety. As a senior, Curtis was
second team All American. Curtis was drafted by the Baltimore Colts and played there for a couple of seasons.
Ted Provost – Ohio State: Buckeye defensive back that helped make the backfield a strong point for the Ohio State national championship run. Provost was an All American in 1969 and went on to play in the NFL briefly and then became an All Star in Canada. Provost was a tall defensive back before they were in style.
Nate Cunningham – Indiana: Another Hoosier member of the 1967 Rose Bowl team, Cunningham was one of the leaders of a pretty tough football team in both 1967 and 1968. Cunningham was an early pioneer paving the way for other black football players.
Dennis White – Northwestern: The Wildcats were the Mildcats mostly back in these years, but Dennis White was a rare bright spot for them. He was a two year starter and was good enough for All Big 10 recognition as a senior in 1968.
Doug Roalstad – Minnesota: Roalstad was a pretty good junior safety on the pretty good Gopher team of 1968. But, he only started one season and that was on the 1968 team.
Steve Wilson – Iowa: Wilson came to Iowa from Rhode Island as a quarterback and he played that position early on for the Hawkeyes. He then switched to safety where he started his last two seasons.
Mike Sensibaugh – Ohio State: a member of the Super Sophomores, Sensibaugh was a star cornerback in 1968 though 1970 and also handled punting for the Buckeyes. Sensibaugh was a ball hawk and picked off 22 passes over his three years as a starter at Ohio State. His career totals are still a record at Ohio State, but his 9 in one season are still a record, also. He was an 8th round draft pick by the Kansas City Chiefs and he played there for 5 seasons before finishing up as a Cardinal in St Louis. In the NFL, Sensibaugh had 27 career interceptions.