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You decide: Ohio State football’s all-decade running backs

Our 2010-2019 All-Decade Team series continues with the running back position.

Photo by Lance King/Getty Images
Matt Tamanini Matt Tamanini is the co-managing editor of Land-Grant Holy Land having joined the site in 2016.

The 2010s are coming to an end and we can’t help but reminisce about the memories that the decade brought with it— a national championship, four Big Ten titles, four head coaches, and some of the best to ever wear the scarlet and gray.

To wrap up the decade, we want to hear from you about who you think should comprise the Ohio State Buckeyes’ All-Decade team. From now until the end of the year, we will be going position by position and giving you the candidates so that you can decide who receives this honor more prestigious than a tree in Buckeye Grove, a pair of gold pants, or a ring so big that you have to carry a 10 pound weight in the other hand just to stay balanced.

You’ll be able to vote in the positional articles through Dec. 30 at 12 noon ET, and on Twitter for one week after the poll goes up. Keep in mind that since we are conducting part of the voting on Twitter, we are limited to just four options per position, so this is going to be tough!

Once all the votes are in for every position, we’ll reveal the final All-Decade roster on the final day of the 2010s.

Next up: Running Backs. Here are your candidates:

Carlos Hyde (2010-2013)

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Carlos Hyde started off the decade in the backfield for the Buckeyes as a freshman in the 2010 season, the final one under Jim Tressel. In his first season with Ohio State, El Guapo played sparingly behind Daniel Herron, better known to Buckeye fans as “Boom.”

However, Boom would get caught up in the idiotic #TattooGate scandal and would end up serving a six game suspension the following season, allowing Hyde to rush for a very solid 566 yards as a sophomore in Luke Fickell’s lost season of 2011.

But, it was in the undefeated campaign of 2012 when Hyde flourished under the direction of new head coach Urban Meyer, going for 970 yards and 16 touchdowns. However, he was not the team’s leading rusher; that distinction went to Braxton Miller.

Then in his final season in Columbus, Hyde missed the first three games of the season due to his involvement in an altercation at an off-campus bar, but when he returned, he wasted no time in doing something that no other running back had ever done in an Urban Meyer offense — be it at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida, or Ohio State — he ran for 1,000 yards.

In fact, he went for 1,521 and 15 touchdowns, on just 208 carries, meaning that he gained an average of 7.3 yards per carry during his senior season. He also tacked on three receiving TDs as well.

Hyde was a two-time All-Big Ten selection (second team in 2012, first team in 2013) and was Ohio State’s first recipient of the B1G’s Ameche–Dayne Running Back of the Year Award, after it was established in 2011. Hyde now ranks 10th in Ohio State history with 3,198 yards.

Ezekiel Elliott (2013-2015)

NCAA FOOTBALL: JAN 12 College Football Playoff National Championship - Oregon v Ohio State Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Sitting behind Hyde in 2013 was a freshman named Ezekiel Elliott. In his first year in Columbus, he only rushed for 262 yards and a pair of scores, but he did it averaging 8.7 yards per carry, which — along with his abs — certainly caught the attention of fans.

However, it was the 2014 season in which Zeke became a Buckeye legend. His 1,878 yards is the second most in a single-season for an Ohio State player in program history (although, it will likely be third after the first half of the Fiesta Bowl). He also ran for 18 touchdowns that year, but no stats will ever capture the importance that Elliott has in Ohio State history like this clip does:

Following the national championship season in 2014, Zeke was back in 2015 and put up arguably even better numbers. Despite playing in two fewer games — since OSU didn’t make either the Big Ten Championship Game or the College Football Playoff — he had 1,821 rushing yards and 23 TDs. His yardage total was the third-highest in OSU history, except J.K. Dobbins already passed it this season, and Elliott’s rushing scores are third.

For a career, Elliott is third in rushing yards (behind only Archie Griffin and Dobbins) and is tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns (despite being the only Buckeye in the top four to only play for three seasons).

Elliott won both the Big Ten Offensive Player and Running Back of the Year in 2015 and was the Offensive MVP in both of the Buckeyes’ College Football Playoff games. He has since gone on to be a three-time All-Pro for the Dallas Cowboys, but we aren’t figuring in pro success to this debate!

Mike Weber (2015-2018)

NCAA Football: Indiana at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Weber will undoubtedly be the forgotten great running back for Ohio State in this decade. Because his time in Columbus was hampered by injuries and overlapped with two of the best runners in program history, his unique mix of talent was never fully realized.

However, after redshirting in 2015 while Elliott dominated, the following year, Weber became the first freshman in OSU history to rush for 1,000 yards, and earned the B1G’s Thompson–Randle El Freshman of the Year Award and was named to the All-Big Ten second-team.

He finished his OSU career in 2018 with 954 yards, part of a dual-back rushing attack with J.K. Dobbins that never found the ground success that Buckeye offenses had been used to.

However, when Weber was healthy, he was a force, and he got better every year. As a freshman, he was caught from beyond on numerous occasions, never able to find the next gear to pull away from defenders. However, once healthy in 2017 and throughout 2018, he was able to routinely do things like this:

J.K. Dobbins (2017-????)

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

First off, I have his end date as question marks above, but I would be utterly shocked if J.K. Dobbins returned to Ohio State for his senior season. Coming off of the historic campaign that he’s had thus far in 2019, I can’t imagine that his NFL Draft stock would ever be higher. So, while we don’t know what types of numbers he will add to his season and career totals in the next two games, barring injury, I don’t think that we are looking at another season of Dobbins in the backfield.

But, if that’s the case, man, what a career he’s had! Thanks to Weber’s injury in 2017, Dobbins got the chance to not only play, but to start as a freshman. While he still eventually split time with Weber, Dobbins put up 1,403 yards in his first season, the most that any Buckeye freshman ever has.

While he considers his sophomore season to be a disappointment, mostly because he only averaged 4.6 yards per carry, he still rushed for 1,053 yards while sharing the load a bit more evenly with Weber.

That “down” season served as major motivation for what very well might go down as the best season by a running back in Ohio State history. Through 13 games, Dobbins has rushed for 1,829 yards and 20 touchdowns. Let’s start with what that means from a single-season perspective.

The back from La Grange, Texas is just 98 yards behind Eddie George’s 1995 total, which has stood as the most in OSU history for nearly a quarter of a century. He is currently tied for fifth in terms of rushing touchdowns, and Pete Johnson’s total of 25 from 1975 is very much in reach should the Buckeyes advance to the CFP championship game.

While this season has been remarkable on its own, when you put it into the context of what Dobbins was able to do in his first two years as a Buckeye, it makes it even more impressive. A three-time All-B1G honoree (second-team in 2017-18, first-team 2019), Dobbins is the only player in Ohio State history to rush for 1,000 yards as a freshman, sophomore, and junior. His 4,285 yards are second most in program history, behind only Archie’s 5,582 — a total that would certainly be in danger if Dobbins came back next year, but he won’t and he shouldn’t.

In his first two seasons as a Buckeye, many incorrectly labeled Dobbins as just a speed back; the lightning to Weber’s thunder. But that was never really accurate, and after getting down to practically zero percent body fat, he has shown that he not only has the speed to be one of the best backs in OSU history, but the power as well.

Remember, since we are limited to four options on Twitter polls, some other great Buckeyes will get left out of some of these polls. If you want to tell us how wrong we are for leaving your favorite player out, or if you want to make your case for one of the candidates, please feel free to do so in the comments below!

Which Buckeye running back should be on Ohio State’s All-Decade team?


Who was Ohio State’s best running back of the decade?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Carlos Hyde
    (15 votes)
  • 72%
    Ezekiel Elliott
    (988 votes)
  • 0%
    Mike Weber
    (4 votes)
  • 26%
    J.K. Dobbins
    (361 votes)
1368 votes total Vote Now