COLUMBUS — There are dozens, no, make that hundreds of 5-star football players who have never lived up to their rankings and fell far short of the level of success predicted for them.
For Army, who plays Ohio State this afternoon in Ohio Stadium, it has worked the other way. Some of its most famous graduates arrived as football no-stars and ended their careers with five stars.
That’s five stars as in 5-star generals.
Five men have been 5-star generals in the U.S. Army. Four of them graduated from West Point, three played for the Black Knights football team and another was a football manager.
Future 5-star general and President of the United States Dwight Eisenhower arrived at West Point in 1911 as a 5-foot, 11-inch, 152-pound running back.
After spending a year on the JV team, Eisenhower added 20 pounds and was a featured running back and a fierce linebacker in 1912. But a knee injury late in his sophomore year ended his football career.
Five-star general Henry “Hap” Arnold was a second-team running back early in the 20th century. But the most famous coach he ever had was not a football coach. He took flight training at the Wright Brothers Flying School in Dayton, where one of the instructors was Orville Wright.
Another 5-star general, Omar Bradley, a classmate of Eisenhower’s, also played football but was better known for his baseball skills.
Finally, in probably the only time in his life Douglas MacArthur willingly accepted a subordinate role, the future 5-star general was a manager for Army’s football team.
The five-star rank has been retired so OSU will not be competing against any future 5-stars. Maybe there are some future 4-stars. But that would be on their shoulders, not in the NFL.
Athletically, like most of the military academies, highly rated athletes are rare at West Point, which leads to employing rarely seen strategies, like the triple option offense and cut blocks.
This is the first time Ohio State and Army have played in football. Against Navy teams that played a similar option offense, Ohio State won 31-27 in 2009 and 34-17 in 2014.
Army is 2-0 this season and is coming off an 8-5 season last year. Its two wins this year have been over FCS Fordham and Buffalo.
In one way, Army is the kind of opponent Ohio State needs after losing 31-16 to Oklahoma in a match-up of Top Ten teams last Saturday. But in another way this is a game that really won’t tell OSU if it has improved in areas that stood out as being in need of much work against Oklahoma.
Army is just good enough that if the Buckeyes roll up a big score, it could be a confidence builder.
But it is also a team that has thrown only 10 passes all season, which means any progress made by a sometimes shaky defensive backfield would be hard to measure. In the same way, the difference in speed between OSU’s receivers and Army’s defensive backs probably won’t reveal a lot about the state of the Buckeyes’ much-criticized deep passing game.
The revelation would be if this game somehow ends up being close. Then the angst meter would be dialed up to 12 for Ohio State fans. That seems unlikely, though.
The prediction: Ohio State 35, Army 7.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.