With more completions, yards, and touchdowns thrown than any other quarterback at Wooster, and a driving force behind the Fighting Scots’ first North Coast Athletic Conference championship, Rich Judd’s legacy is that of being the best player at the most important position in team history.
Jim Barnes was named the Scots’ new head coach before the 1995 season, inheriting a team that had gone just 1-9 the year prior, and he was anxious to find a signal caller that could help turn the program around. So eager in fact, he showed up at Judd’s high school graduation party to assure he would be coming to Wooster.
“I thought he was a difference maker, which he turned out to be,” recalled Barnes.
Ultimately, Judd, a product of Nordonia High School in northeast Ohio, not only enrolled at the College, but he went on to win 29 games (29-9; .763) as the starting quarterback, believed to be the most at Wooster, while breaking every significant school record for passing.
After entering the first two games of his career during a pair of lopsided losses, Judd quickly took over the reins on offense and the Scots responded with a 27-0 victory against Oberlin College in his first start. Wooster wound up with a very respectable 5-3 record over the last eight games of the season.
The Scots’ incredible turnaround was only just getting started, as Judd led the team to seven wins as a sophomore, their most in 26 years, while earning his second all-NCAC honorable mention award in the process. Wooster’s only two blemishes in conference play (6-2) that year were narrow setbacks against Wittenberg University and Allegheny College, which won seven-straight NCAC titles between them from 1990-96, but the Scots were clearly knocking on the door.
Everything came together Judd’s junior year, as he tossed a school-record 21 touchdowns, compared to just four interceptions while leading Wooster to a 9-1 record (its best since 1923), national rankings throughout the year, including as high as No. 4 by Football Gazette, and maybe most importantly, its first-ever NCAC championship (tri-champs with Allegheny and Wittenberg). The Scots missed a perfect record by just one point, losing to Allegheny on the road 28-27, but their win over Wittenberg (21-19) was their first in decades.
Also notable, Judd had one of the greatest single-game performances in Wooster history that year, a school-record 446 yards of offense (414 passing, 32 rushing) and five touchdowns during a 77-28 rout over Oberlin. For his efforts throughout 1997, Judd was made a second-team all-NCAC selection and third-team all-North Region (Football Gazette).
As a senior, Judd put up nearly identical numbers as the season prior, including 20 touchdown passes, giving him 59 in all, which is still good for fifth all-time in conference history, as are his 7,150 passing yards. The Scots posted an 8-2 record (6-2 NCAC), just missing another league title, but Judd received his highest individual honors, being selected first-team all-conference and second-team all-North Region.
“Rich was a quintessential quarterback … maybe the best (pure) thrower I’ve coached,” said Barnes, who went on to coach at traditional NCAA Div. III power Augustana (Ill.) College for 11 seasons. “He had an exceptional mixture of maturity, leadership, and confidence. He was resilient. We put a lot on him (that freshman year) … we faced great competition throughout his career … went through some ups and downs … but he certainly rose to the occasion each time.”
After graduating with a degree in business economics, Judd was able to turn his student internship at Morgan Stanley in Washington, D.C., into a full-time job before eventually coming back to northeast Ohio for a position at Charles Schwab. Currently, he resides in Austin, Texas, working as a senior financial planner at Century Management.
Personally, Judd enjoys spending time with his wife Angelika and their children – Haley (8) and Jaden (6) – and also with his hobbies as a private pilot and boater. He hasn’t gotten away from athletics either, as he plays basketball and racquetball recreationally, and likes “tossing the football whenever I can find someone (who) can catch.”