Belz One of Wooster's Best Defensive Players in Football, and Lacrosse

Geoff Belz Geoff Belz was one of the top defensive players in Fighting Scot history, and not just for the football team, which most associate him with. He also was a standout lacrosse player for The College of Wooster, despite never playing the sport previously.

Belz came to campus from traditional Cleveland football power St. Edward High School, where he had been named the outstanding defensive lineman as a senior, and made the Scots’ coaching staff take notice as a special teams player and second-string inside linebacker, gaining credit for 46 tackles in those roles during his freshman season.

One person that especially took notice was Jon Hind, Wooster’s first-year assistant football (offensive line) and head lacrosse coach. Hind talked Belz into coming out for a sport that the latter knew little-to-nothing about, and his aggressiveness, athleticism, discipline, and work ethic quickly translated into being a key defender.

Belz earned starting roles in both football and lacrosse as a sophomore. He was the leading tackler for the gridders, the first of three consecutive years he held that distinction, with 108 stops that fall and received his first all-North Coast Athletic Conference award (honorable mention). In the spring, Belz also picked up a postseason honor, taking a spot on the All-Midwest Lacrosse Association Team (honorable mention).

A knee injury during the first football game of his junior season slowed down Belz temporarily, but after missing three games, he came back and proceeded to dominate the defensive side of the ball for the Scots. He racked up a career-high 66 solos and 113 total tackles while playing in what amounted to just six and one-half games en route to being voted first-team all-NCAC and the team’s Most Valuable Player. Pretty impressive numbers and honors for a guy who wasn’t blessed with the size of a prototypical linebacker.  

“He stretches to get 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds,” said then-Wooster coach Bob Tucker in a 1989 interview of Belz, who nearly earned the equivalent awards in lacrosse that year as he was the team’s defensive MVP, second-team all-NCAC, and second-team all-Midwest. “He’s a (Chris) Spielman in that body. He has tremendous instinct in finding the football, getting there and tackling the guy. God gave him the type of instinct he gave to Dick Butkus. He just didn’t give him Butkus’ size.”

As a senior, Belz stayed healthy and continued to be the leading force for the Scots’ defense, highlighted by closing his career with a 20-tackle game during a 28-19 upset win over Ohio Wesleyan Univ. That increased his season total to 122 tackles, 50 more than the second-best on the team, as he received honorable mention on the Pizza Hut All-America Team, voted on by the College Sports Information Directors of America, as well as first-team all-NCAC and team MVP accolades.

In all, Belz racked up 389 tackles from 1986-89, which was the most in school history at the time and currently No. 3. Another of his records – 11.4 tackles per game – remains intact today.

Maybe even more impressive, Belz also wrapped up his lacrosse career in style as he was selected to the All-NCAC First Team after anchoring Wooster’s backfield again.

“Geoff is truly a great lacrosse player,” Hind commented after his career came to an end. “It’s amazing how much he improved in four years, going from a person who never played the game to one of the best defensive players in the nation.”

Belz, who earned his bachelor’s degree in urban studies, is a vice president of sales and marketing for GOJO Industries. He is married to a fellow 1990 alum in Heather Keeney and they have three children – Lauren (14), Jacob (11), and Brendan (5). Belz even remains involved with lacrosse, as well as football and baseball, coaching youth teams in Strongsville, Ohio.