Andy Katzenmoyer, a 6'4", 265 lb. linebacker
, hailing from Westerville
, came to OSU and immediately pissed off a number of fans by requesting #45, a number semi-retired in honor of Archie Griffin
, the only two-time Heisman Trophy
winner. Regardless, Katzenmoyer soon shut people up with his skills at the linebacker position, drawing comparisons to heralded-OSU-linebacker-of-yore Chris Spielman
Statistics for "The Kat" dipped in 1997, but he still won the 1997 Butkus Award as the nation's outstanding linebacker, and was considered by many to be the best player in college football. His defensive efforts helped the Buckeyes to a preseason #1 ranking in 1998, their first since 1980.
Katzenmoyer's stats declined during each of his seasons at OSU, due mostly to the increased attention he received from opposing offenses, and to the manner in which he was used in the Buckeyes' defensive schemes. By his senior year, he had made more of a name for himself off the field...
Katzenmoyer announced that he might challenge the NFL rule prohibiting the drafting of players until their junior season, put in place to force NFL prospects to at least make an attempt at an education. "I came to Ohio State, of course, to get an education," Katzenmoyer said. "And I also came to use it as a vehicle to get to the next level." A sophomore at the time, Katzenmoyer planned to make the jump a year early, battling the NFL in the courts. He was eventually convinced to return to OSU, but whether or not it was to enrich his learning experience is subject to much debate. The Kat struggled to keep his GPA near 2.0, and the summer classes he would take would leave him open to even more scrutiny...
At the start of the 1998 season, a number of players were academically ineligible (among them Damon Moore and Rob Murphy). In the midst of this, their star linebacker revealed that he had remained academically eligible by receiving passing grades in golf, music appreciation, and AIDS awareness. The media had a field day with the revelation, and OSU was taken to task for giving an "student-athlete" such an easy ride. After four months of silence, Katzenmoyer finally consented to an interview, where he proceeded to poke fun at himself for his rigorous summer schedule.
"The AIDS class was difficult. Naw, the hardest thing was getting up at 7:30 in the morning. Golf was easy."
Katzenmoyer was drafted by the New England Patriots in the first round (#28 overall) in the 1999 NFL Draft. When asked at the draft which linebacker he idolized growing up, Katzenmoyer replied "Brian Bosworth. I like the way he ran out of the tunnel."
In the wake of Ted Johnson's arm injury, Katzenmoyer stepped in as the starter and performed well, registering 77 tackles, 3½ sacks, and 1 interception (which he returned for a touchdown). He played in just 8 games in 2000, and was placed on injured reserve in early November.