March 11, 2020

Keith Byars elected into College Football Hall of Fame


COLUMBUS, Ohio – Keith Byars, the 1984 Heisman Trophy runner-up, first-team All-American and one of the all-time great running backs in Ohio State history, has been selected as a 2020 College Football Hall of Fame inductee. The National Football Foundation and the College Hall of Fame revealed the class of 2020 today during SportsCenter on ESPN2.

A four-year Buckeye from 1982 through 1985, Byars was Ohio State’s go-to offensive weapon during his time wearing the Scarlet and Gray. His 1984 season was particularly memorable: he led the nation in rushing (1,764 yards, the fifth highest total in Ohio State single-season history), all-purpose yards (2,441) and scoring (144) while guiding the Buckeyes to a Big Ten title and berth in the Rose Bowl. Byars’ all-purpose yards from that prolific 1984 season remain a single-season school record and ranks fourth all-time in the Big Ten.

Byars’ standout game in 1984 came in a comeback win in a comeback win over Illinois in which he rushed for 274 yards and five touchdowns, which is tied for an Ohio State single-game record. On his fourth touchdown of the game, he famously lost his left shoe at the Illini 40 but never broke stride. Byars’ 354 all-purpose yards against Purdue in 1984 also remain a single-game school record.

Keith Byars was a first-team All-American and the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1984.

A 1985 team captain, Byars guided the Buckeyes to four top 15 finishes, including a No. 9 ranking in 1983. He led Ohio State to three wins in four bowl games, highlighted by a victory over Pittsburgh in the 1984 Fiesta Bowl in which he returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and added another score rushing.

After carrying the ball just six times as a true freshman in 1982, Byars burst onto the scene as a sophomore in 1983. He totaled 1,199 yards on 222 carries and scored 20 touchdowns while also averaging 15.6 yards on 23 receptions. In the second week of the season, Byars totaled 132 all-purpose yards as the Buckeyes upset No. 2 Oklahoma, 24-14, in Norman. He went on to earn the first of two consecutive first-team All-Big Ten honors that season.

Despite missing most of his final season with an injury, Byars remains second in Ohio State history with 46 rushing touchdowns and ranks in the top 10 in career all-purpose yards (eighth, 4,369) and career rushing yards (ninth, 3,200). He surpassed 100 yards rushing in 17 games and twice led the Big Ten in rushing while playing for College Football Hall of Fame coach Earle Bruce and alongside Hall of Fame linebacker Chris Spielman. Byars was inducted into the Ohio State University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000.

Following playing days in Columbus, Byars went on to have a 13-year NFL career with the Philadelphia Eagles (1986-92), Miami Dolphins (1993-96), New England Patriots (1996-97) and New York Jets (1998). He was a Pro Bowl selection in 1993 and played in Super Bowl XXXI with the Patriots.

Byars will be the 26th Buckeye player to be enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Ohio State Players in the College Football Hall of Fame
Year     Name, Pos.
2020*    Keith Byars, RB
2016    Tom Cousineau, LB
2014    Orlando Pace, LT
2012    Eddie George, RB
2009    Chris Spielman, LB
2007    Rex Kern, QB
2005    Jim Houston, E
2004    Jack Tatum, DB
2001    John Hicks, OT
1998    Randy Gradishar, LB
1996    Bob Ferguson, FB
1991    Jim Stillwagon, DT
1989    Aurealius Thomas, G
1986    Archie Griffin, RB
1984    Warren Amling, G/T
1979    Howard “Hopalong” Cassady, RB
1978    Gomer Jones, C
1977    Jim Daniel, T
1976    Vic Janowicz, HB
1975    Gust Zarnas, G
1974    Jim Parker, G
1973    Gaylord Stinchcomb, HB
1971    Bill Willis, T
1969    Les Horvath, QB
1954    Wes Fesler, E
1951    Chic Harley, HB

*Formal enshrinement ceremony in December 2020