Cecil 'Cy' Souders dies at age 100; played on Ohio State's 1942 national championship team
Cecil “Cy” Souders, who played football under four different Ohio State coaches and was an offensive and defensive end on the Buckeyes’ 1942 national championship team, died Monday at his home in Hilliard.
At age 100, he also was the oldest NFL alumnus when he passed.
Born in Bucyrus, Souders began his Ohio State career in 1939 under Francis Schmidt, continued it under Paul Brown in 1942 and 1943 and then played under Carroll Widdoes in 1944. He finished under Paul Bixler in 1946 after taking a year off to serve in the Navy during World War II.
Souders' OSU football career under four coaches, with break for World War II service
Souders started as a 6-foot-1, 215-pound end on the 1942 team that finished 9-1 and ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll. He caught a team-high nine passes in 1946 and was voted team MVP. He was voted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002.
Dubbed “The Old Man” by teammates because he was a 26-year-old senior, Souders went on to play three seasons with the Detroit Lions.
Souders initially was offered a scholarship to Louisiana State, but Schmidt sent OSU assistant coach Ernie Godfrey to Bucyrus to warn Souders’ girlfriend not to allow her boyfriend to accept the offer because “those southern belles will get after him, and he won’t come back.”
The girlfriend, Jean Hoover, convinced Souders to attend Ohio State instead. Then she married him. The couple remained together 81 years.
“Not my guy,” Jean Souders told a Dispatch reporter in 2000, relaying what she had said to Godfrey. “He’s going to Ohio State.”
Schmidt was an eccentric who enjoyed attracting attention, Cy Souders explained in 2000, recalling how during a recruiting trip to Columbus his future coach dodged street cars on Neil Avenue while driving his Cadillac to the Hotel Fort Hayes for lunch.
The stoic Brown was entirely different, which explains why the equally serious Souders described him as his favorite coach.
“He was an unusual man,” Souders said of Brown, who brought to Ohio State such innovations as detailed playbooks and timed practices. Brown was against having married players on the team but made an exception for Souders, whose reputation for toughness was built during one-on-one tackling drills against future Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Willis.
The Souders family will receive friends from 1-1:45 p.m. Tuesday at Wise Funeral Service in Bucyrus.