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Trey Sermon ready to get on the field with Ohio State, Marcus Crowley suffers “minor setback”

Expect the Oklahoma graduate transfer to play a big role in the backfield for the Buckeyes this year, while Crowley works to get back on the field.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 28 Texas Tech at Oklahoma Photo by David Stacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The biggest question surrounding Ohio State football heading into the 2020 season is who will replace J.K. Dobbins at running back? All Dobbins did last year was rush for 2,000 yards for the Buckeyes. When Dobbins was hurt for a spell during the College Football Playoff semifinal of Clemson, the moment was a little too bright for Master Teague, who rushed for just nine yards on seven carries.

Teague very well could be the next star in the backfield for Ohio State, but Ryan Day knew he had to strengthen the depth at the position. The need became even greater when it was announced in early March that Teague was injured and could be out up to six months. Teague’s injury was a blow to a running back position that was depleted due to Marcus Crowley already being unavailable for at least spring practices due to a knee injury.

Enter graduate transfer Trey Sermon from Oklahoma. Sermon not only was the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year in 2017, but he ran for 2,076 yards and 22 touchdowns during his time with the Sooners. Sermon had considered committing to Ohio State coming out of high school, but opted to head to Norman.

The move from Oklahoma to Ohio State came about because of the relationship running backs coach Tony Alford, and that relationship had cultivated during Sermon’s recruitment in high school. While Sermon could have stayed at Oklahoma and closed out his college career, he knew the right move for him would be to head to Columbus.

Sermon knows that carries at Ohio State won’t be just given to him because of his past success at Oklahoma. Not only will he have to earn those carries, but he’ll have to work even harder because he is coming off a knee injury of his own. Fighting for his spot isn’t something that is new to Sermon though, as his coaches at Oklahoma assured Alford of the running back’s tremendous work ethic. Along with that work ethic, Sermon is also all about doing what is best for the team, which is something that Ryan Day and the rest of the staff value greatly.

The global pandemic has given Sermon and the rest of the dinged up Ohio State running backs some extra time to recover. The delay in the start of the season has had a downside though, as Sermon knows there is no time to adjust to a new offense and new teammates. Instead, the Buckeyes will have to be on their A-game from day one of the season, especially with the giant target that will be painted on them. The addition of Sermon should help put Ohio State over the top, since now they do have some desperately needed experience in the backfield.

Joining Sermon at running back this fall will be Marcus Crowley, who rushed for 237 yards and a touchdown in 2019. While that total pales in comparison to what Dobbins and Teague put up on the ground last year, Crowley was hitting his stride as a backup for the Buckeyes before a knee injury ended his season following an 82-yard performance against Maryland.

Expect to see Crowley at some point this year, but when we see the Florida product remains to be seen. According to running backs coach Tony Alford, Crowley did suffer a minor setback in his recovery from an ACL injury, which hasn’t allowed him to fully practice with the Buckeyes yet.

Ohio State won’t rush Crowley back into action, but expect the running back to do whatever he can to get back out on the field as soon as possible. The sophomore knows he has to work hard to make his mark, especially with highly-touted recruits TreVeyon Henderson and Evan Pryor making their way to Columbus in the near future.

With Teague, Sermon, and Chambers at running back, the Buckeyes can afford to allow Crowley to take a little extra time to recover. An ideal scenario would be for Crowley to not make his season debut until later in the season, ramping up his activity for possible appearances in the Big Ten Championship Game and the College Football Playoff. The added depth at running back could be crucial to Ohio State’s national title hopes.

Alford said that while the process of recovering from an injury like Crowley suffered is extremely tough, the sophomore is facing the challenge with the right attitude. Once he is able to return to the field, expect to see a motivated Crowley. Iron sharpens iron, and being able to practice and compete with a stable of talented running backs like the Buckeyes have will only make Crowley better — not only this year, but during the rest of his time in Columbus.