COLUMBUS — Ohio State spring football is right around the corner.
That means the time has come to break down each position group to prepare to see what kind of work must be done for Ohio State to be ready to pursue its goals again this fall.
After looking at the quarterbacks, we turn to a running back room that will be crowded even though coach Tony Alford will not be breaking in anyone new.
Here is a closer look:
Returning starters: TreVeyon Henderson, Miyan Williams
Also in the mix: Evan Pryor, Dallan Hayden, Chip Trayanum
Ohio State is not going back to a two- or three-back offense.
The Buckeyes have multiple starters returning at the position because of a rash of injuries that forced Alford to rely on third- and fourth-string players late last season.
“To have that many injuries in the timespan that we did, that was uncharted waters for me personally,” Alford said. “But I think every young guy when they watch they can say ‘I’ve got opportunities’ and what you do with those opportunities is up to you.
“The whole deal (last year) for me was really trying to keep my players in that room’s the emotions together because it’s not just frustrating for coaches, it’s frustrating for them. You know, they’re highly competitive guys, and for them not to go out and perform the way they’d like to perform for whatever the reasons, that gets frustrating for them.”
Henderson, a junior-to-be who starred as a freshman, won’t be taking part in spring ball as he recovers from a foot issues that bothered him most of the season. Pryor is also still out after suffering a major knee injury in the preseason, but both figure to be available when the the real games roll around later in the year.
Alford said Henderson is already champing at the bit to get back to work following a frustrating sophomore season, so the challenge will be to keep him from overdoing it or trying to come back too soon.
The coach is also seeing a more mature Hayden, who was thrust into a larger-than-expected role as a true freshman because of the injuries, and looking forward to the continued presence of Trayanum, who joined his room midway through last season after starting his Ohio State career as a linebacker last spring.
“I think it’s open open conversations with guys and finding scenarios and situations where guys can perform, where they kind of have their niche and things that they can do,” Alford said. “Because at the end of the day, you’re trying to put your best 11 players on the field, right? And so we’ve got to find ways to get guys on the field that can help us win games. And if that means that you have certain packages or different things that you can present and do for us, then we’ll use that accordingly.”