Howard "Hopalong" Cassady, former Heisman winner for Ohio State, dies at age 85

Ohio State University left halfback, Howard (Hopalong) Cassady, junior from Columbus, Ohio | January 3,1955. (AP Photo/Harold Valentine)
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TAMPA, Fl. - Former Ohio State University Heisman Trophy winner and two-time All-American Howard "Hopalong" Cassady has passed away at the age of 85.

Family members say he died in Tampa, Florida early Friday morning. He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Barb, and his three children.

“He was a Heisman Trophy dad as well,” said son, Craig Cassady, Friday morning from his home in Chautauqua Lake, N.Y. Another son, David, lives in Dublin, Ohio, and daughter, Rayne, resides in Columbus.

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“We’ve lost not only a legendary Buckeye, but also a wonderful person in Hop Cassady,” Director of Athletics Gene Smith said. “He was an all-time great Buckeye in every way. We will have the Cassady family in our thoughts and in our prayers.”

A Columbus native, Cassady went to Central High School.

He earned his nickname of Hopalong from sportswriters during his first game when he scored three touchdowns against Indiana and “hopped all over the field like the performing cowboy,” a reference to the fictional, clean-cut hero, Hopalong Cassidy.

Cassady played for Woody Hayes from 1952-55 and helped the team to a 29-8 record and the 1954 national championship as well as Big Ten Conference championships in 1954 and 1955.

Cassady was the third Buckeye to win the Heisman Trophy in 1955. That season, he rushed for 958 yards and 15 touchdowns.

That season, he was named the Associated Press Athlete of the Year and an All-American. He earned All-American honors in 1954 as well.

He finished his career with 2,466 rushing yards which, at the time, was a school record. He scored 37 touchdowns in 36 games.

Cassady was a first-round NFL draft pick of the Detroit Lions. He also played with the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles.

He also started at shortstop for the Buckeyes baseball team for three years.

Ohio State retired his football jersey in 2000. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, the Ohio State Sports Hall of Fame (1997) and the Columbus Baseball Hall of Fame.

Cassady spent more than 40 years working for George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees organization, primarily with the Yankees’ Triple-A Columbus Clippers baseball organization.

His funeral will be in Columbus at a later date. Cassady will be honored at Ohio Stadium during Ohio State’s game against Miami on Saturday, Sept. 21.

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