FOOTBALL

Which Ohio State football players have played both offense and defense?

Colin Gay
The Columbus Dispatch

Chip Trayanum joined Ohio State football as a linebacker.

The former Arizona State running back, who rushed for 401 yards and six touchdowns last season with the Sun Devils, switched to the defensive side of the ball when he decided to join the Buckeyes in December.

But with Evan Pryor expecting to miss the season after suffering a knee injury in practice leaving Ohio State with three scholarship running backs in TreVeyon Henderson, Miyan Williams and Dallan Hayden, coach Ryan Day confirmed that Trayanum is getting some looks at his former position.

“He's natural,” Day said, “He's doing a great job at linebacker as well. He'll be a guy we can use as insurance. But just seeing him live and in color, he’s a talented running back. We can use him in a dual role if needed."

If Trayanum were to take snaps for Ohio State at running back, he would join an esteemed list of former Buckeye players who have played both ways, including two currently on the roster.

Here's a look at some key Ohio State players who played multiple positions over the course of their college career.

Bill Willis: 1942-44, offensive and defensive line

A three-year starter for Ohio State, Willis was the Buckeyes' first African American All-American honoree in 1943 and 1944 before breaking pro football's color barrier in 1946 and playing nine seasons for the Cleveland Browns. Willis' No. 99 is retired at Ohio State, who the program's "Block O" award is a tribute to.

Vic Janowicz: 1949-51, halfback, safety, punter, kicker

Ohio State Heisman Trophy winners, from left, Les Horvath (1944); Archie Griffin (1974-75); Howard "Hopalong" Cassady (1955); and Vic Janowicz (1950) pose for a photo in October 1985.

The 1950 Heisman Trophy winner played on offense, defense and special teams, totaling 561 passing yards, 314 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns as an Ohio State junior. Janowicz was later inducted into the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1976 and his No. 31 is retired at Ohio State.

Howard "Hopalong" Cassady: 1952-55, running back and defensive back

UNDATED Black and white file photo of OSU  Ohio State football player HOPALONG CASSADY . ( HOP CASSADY ).  Howard "Hopalong" Cassady . Columbus Dispatch photo by Fred Shannon.

While most of Cassady's storied Ohio State career was defined from his time at running back, finishing with 2,374 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns. But Cassady, like Janowicz, played both ways, also starting at defensive back for the Buckeyes. Cassady left Ohio State as a two-time unanimous All-American and a Heisman Trophy winner in 1955, and later had his No. 40 retired.

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Jim Parker: 1954-56, offensive and defensive line

James Parker, OSU football, Ohio State University football, 1955. (Credit:   Ohio State University Archives)  JIM PARKER, DIED 7/18/05.

Parker's career was made on the offensive line, becoming a unanimous All-American at guard while winning the Outland Trophy in 1956 — the first in Ohio State history — and finishing eighth in the Heisman Trophy race. But Parker also played defensive tackle for Ohio State before he was drafted by the Baltimore Colts as the No. 8 overall pick in the 1957 NFL draft.

Paul Warfield: 1961-63, running back and defensive back

Ohio State back Paul Warfield (42) barrels along in the third quarter in Bloomington, Ind., on 5, 1963, into the waiting arms of Indiana's back Marvin Woodson (40). Warfield gained about 5 yards on the play. Ohio State won, 21-0.

Over the course of three seasons with Ohio State, Warfield made an impact in both the passing and running game, averaging 6.7 yards each time he touched the ball and scoring 14 touchdowns. But Warfield also played defensive back for the Buckeyes, earning first-team All-American honors and first-team All-Big Ten honors in 1963.

Tom Tupa: 1984-87, quarterback and punter

Black and white file photo of Earle Bruce (right) talking to Tom Tupa in 1987 (Columbus Dispatch Photo by Tim Revell).

While he never played defense, Tupa's impact was unmatched. A four-year starter at punter for Ohio State, accumulating 9,564 yards on 214 punts, Tupa also served as emergency quarterback through his first three seasons. In 1987, he was named the starter, throwing for 1,786 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing 55.4% of his throws. Tupa was drafted in the third round by the Phoenix Cardinals in 1988, leading to a 16-year career in which he attempted nine passes and recorded 873 punts.

Chris Gamble: 2001-03, wide receiver, cornerback, kick and punt returner

Ohio State's Chris Gamble keeps his eye on the ball after losing the handle on a kickoff.

Over the course of his three-year career with Ohio State, Gamble made an impact everywhere he played, finishing with 645 yards from scrimmage on offense, seven interceptions on defense and 851 return yards. In three years, Gamble scored one rushing touchdown and one defensive touchdown before being selected as a first-round draft pick by the Carolina Panthers.

Zach Boren: 2009-12, full back and linebacker

Zach Boren, left, had played fullback since coming to Ohio State in 2009. But with the linebacking corps depleted by injury this season, coach Urban Meyer switched Boren to defense before the Indiana game.

In his first three seasons, Boren was Ohio State's primary blocker in the run game, starting 27 games at full back, recording 20 receptions and one rush. Boren then was moved to linebacker in 2012 under head coach Urban Meyer, finishing his senior season with 50 tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss and a sack.

Steele Chambers: 2019-2022, running back and linebacker

Defensive line coach Larry Johnson works with Steele Chambers (22) during the first practice of spring football for Ohio State University at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.

Coming into Ohio State as a four-star athlete out of Roswell, Georgia, Chambers joined Tony Alford's running back room when he first arrived in 2019, recording 28 carries for 221 yards and a touchdown through his first two seasons. As a redshirt sophomore in 2021, Chambers moved to linebacker and found his home, recording 47 tackles with five tackles-for-loss, a sack, an interception and two pass deflections. Chambers has not recorded a rushing attempt since the move in 2021.

Cade Stover: 2019-22, tight end and linebacker

Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said Cade Stover is Ohio State's fastest tight end.

Heading into his fourth season with Ohio State, Stover has moved between offense and defense multiple times. Coming into the program as a four-star linebacker out of Mansfield, Ohio, Stover moved to tight end, recording five receptions for 76 yards in 2021. Stover moved back to linebacker during the Rose Bowl, recording 11 tackles, before spending the spring heading into his redshirt junior season at tight end. Stover is slated to be one of Ohio State's main tight ends in 2022.

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