Born Sept. 20, 1972, in St. Henry, Ohio, Robert Carl Hoying sparked his high school to state championships in different sports. He was an All-Ohio performer in basketball, leading the Redman to St. John Arena in Columbus and the state title. And he completed 156 of 277 passes for 2,435 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior on the gridiron, bringing St. Henry a Division V state crown.
The 6-4, 200-pounder was also named Ohio's Mr. Football during his senior season.
But the following February, the Ohio State program was in turmoil. The Buckeyes were coming off a 7-4-1 season in 1990 that included a tough 16-13 loss to Michigan. It was head coach John Cooper's third loss to the Wolverines in as many tries and no OSU head coach in history had ever lost to Michigan three games in a row without being fired.
Making matters worse was the Buckeyes' lackluster performance during a 23-11 upset loss to Air Force in the Liberty Bowl.
With rumors circulating that Cooper's job was in jeopardy, OSU's recruiting efforts faltered in a big way. Most of the state's top high school prospects – including six of the top seven rated players – signed with out-of-state schools.
Hoying was the only one in that group who decided to become a Buckeye, and he became one of only five members of the 1991 recruiting class – which eventually numbered 19 – to become a starter. All the others were all defensive players – cornerback Marlon Kerner, linebacker Craig Powell and safeties Tito Paul and Walter Taylor. Eight members of that class never even earned a single letter.
Hoying redshirted during his rookie season and saw only token action in six games the following year as backup to starter Kirk Herbstreit. With Herbstreit graduated in 1993, however, Cooper turned to Hoying and the strong-armed sophomore turned in a credible performance, throwing for 1,570 yards and eight TDs.
Best of all, Ohio State posted a 10-1-1 record – the best mark since an 11-1 finish in 1979. But it could have been much better. The Buckeyes traveled to Ann Arbor with a 9-0-1 record and hopeful of reaching the Rose Bowl for the first time in nine years. But they fell flat and came home with a 28-0 shutout loss.
The team managed to come back with a 28-21 victory over BYU in the Holiday Bowl, but Hoying was relegated to mostly handing off to tailback Raymont Harris, who exploded for 235 yards and three touchdowns to win game MVP honors. Hoying completed only 5 of 11 passes for 55 yards in the game.
The Buckeyes became much more of a passing team the following year when Cooper hired Walt Harris as quarterbacks coach. Hoying thrived under Harris' tutelage, increasing his numbers to 170 completions in 301 attempts for 2,335 yards and 19 touchdowns. The yardage figure was the second-highest single-season total in school history and the touchdown total tied a school record.
Unfortunately, OSU fell back a step in the standings with a 9-4 record although the Buckeyes did manage to beat Michigan for the first time in Cooper's tenure, taking a 22-6 win over the Wolverines in Ohio Stadium.
When the team returned for the 1995 season, it was poised for greatness. Hoying operated an attack that featured tailback Eddie George, flanker Terry Glenn and offensive tackle Orlando Pace, while the Ohio State defense was led by defensive ends Mike Vrabel and Matt Finkes, nose guard Luke Fickell and defensive back Shawn Springs.
The Buckeyes began the season with a 38-6 spanking of Boston College in the Kickoff Classic and then reeled off 10 more victories in a row, averaging 40 points per game. Unfortunately, the end-of-the-season bugaboo struck again and the streak ended with a loss at Michigan and to Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl.
But Hoying & Co. had put together one of the most explosive offensive shows in school history. He completed 211 of 341 passes for 3,269 yards and 29 TDs, shattering Ohio State records in each of those categories. Meanwhile, Glenn established a new single-season mark for receiving yards with 1,411 and George won the Heisman Trophy while rushing for a school-record 1,927 yards.
The huge season allowed Hoying to finish the Ohio State career leader in completions (498) and touchdown passes (57), records he continues to hold today. He is also still second all-time in passing yardage, his 7,232 trailing only Art Schlichter's total of 7,547.
Hoying was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the third round of the 1996 NFL draft, and he played three seasons in Philly, starting 13 of the 16 games in which he appeared. He moved on to Oakland for the final two years of his career before injuries forced his retirement in 2000.
In 22 career NFL games, including those 13 starts, Hoying completed 244 of 456 attempts (53.5 percent) for 2,544 yards and 11 TDs.
After his playing days were over, Hoying returned to the Columbus area and is currently a principal owner of Crawford Hoying Smith, a business specializing in real estate services.
In early July, it was announced that he will be a member of the 2008 class of inductees into the Ohio State Athletic Hall of Fame.
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