Cecil "Cy" Souders
Inducted in 2014
Cecil “Cy” Souders was born on January 3, 1921 in Bucyrus, Ohio. Cy, at 94, is one of the oldest living professional football players! He played football for The Ohio State University, where he was a three-time All American. Cy played in two East-West games and one All-Star game. Souders is a member of the Ohio State Athletic Hall of Fame and was drafted in the 25th round of the 1945 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins and played for the Detroit Lions from 1947-1949.
Cy began his football “career” at the age of 9 or 10 when he and a group of neighborhood boys would get together and play what they called football. Cy remembers getting permission from the Kearsley Elementary School principal to organize a small football league with a few other area schools, such as the Norton school, to play against each other. Cy also remembers watching Bucyrus High school football, while he was in junior high, by crawling out of the dormer of an abandon home, on the west side of Lane Avenue, to the roof top to get a better view. He also remembers climbing over the fence a time or two, but never through the gate because it cost $.25 a ticket.
Cy went out for football his freshman year and played all four years at Bucyrus High School. His first coach was Howard Nuesbaum and then Eldon Armbrust. Cy was captain his senior year and was chosen to play with the Ohio High School All-Stars. The Ohio team played against the Florida All-Stars in the Kumquat Bowl in St. Petersburg, Florida on December 26, 1938. Cy was captain of this team and they played to a 0-0 tie. This was Cy’s first big trip and they took the train from Columbus to Florida which took two days, both ways. The ticket price was $34.05 and the hotel cost $2.35 per day, including meals!
While at the Kumquat Bowl, Cy was recruited by LSU, and planned to go to school there, as LSU offered, him a full a scholarship, books, tuition, room and board and a little spending money. His parents already had a son in school, and this scholarship would help with family finances. Ernie Godfrey, a long-time coach at Ohio State, came to Bucyrus to recruit football players and Cy told him he planned on going to LSU. Ernie was very disappointed. Ernie went to the high school principal, and found out Souders had a steady girlfriend, Jean Hoover, who was a cheerleader. Godfrey went to one of Jean’s classes and convinced Jean that the southern belles might not let Cy come back north, so between Ernie and Jean, Cy agreed to go to Columbus and take a look at OSU. Jean and Cy have been married for 75 years! Cy went to Columbus, met head coach Francis Schmidt, drove in his Caddy, dined on Neil Avenue, and returned to Bucyrus a Buckeye and began his football career there in the fall of 1939.
As a freshman, Cy was a member of the “taxi squad”. The job of this squad was to be defense against the varsity offense. During that fall, Jean and Cy ran off to Kentucky and got married and then was no longer a member of the freshman team. Cy did not return to school until the spring of 1942, when he got a letter from the new head coach, Paul Brown. Cy returned to football and lived across from the Shoe with his wife and daughter, Sharon. Cy was the only college football player in the United States with a family.
The 1942 Buckeyes were Big Ten and National Champions. There were only 43 players on the team and they only lost one game against Wisconsin. In 1944, Cy played in the East-West Shrine Bowl, and the Ohio State Buckeyes were considered the Civilian National Champions and Army was the military National Champions. During the 1944 season, Cy reported for duty in the Navy. In 1945, Cy played on the Bainbridge Commodores Naval team at Bainbridge, Maryland. After this season, Cy returned to Columbus to finish his education and continue his career on the football team. During the 1946 season, Cy was All-Big 10 and All-American, and received the Chicago Tribune Silver Football Award for MVP.
On August 22, 1947 Cy played in the Chicago Tribune College All-Stars game versus the Chicago Bears. Attendance at the game was 105,000, the largest crowd to that date for a football game! The temperature was over 100 degrees, and Cy lost 15 pounds training for the game.
After football, Cy was a salesman for Suburban Motor Freight Company and became the manager of the Detroit Terminal. After 38 years with SMF, Cy became Executive Vice President of the company and retired in 1984.
In 2002, Cy was inducted into the Ohio State University Athletic Hall of Fame, along with the likes of Chic Harley, Les Horvath, Jesse Owens, Jack Nicklaus and Archie Griffin.
Cy and Jean live in Florida and have one daughter, Sharon , son-in-law Martin, and Grandson, Randy and all are dedicated followers of The Ohio State University Buckeyes!