“When the college football season arrives, it won’t be faceless brands that dictate the playoffs and biggest games. It will be the individuals.”
Apparently, Ohio State doesn’t win the big games, beat Michigan and stay in the playoff conversation year in and year out just because they are THE Ohio State University. This is shocking news to those of us who were born in ‘94 and have only known Ohio State’s brand as One Of The Best Schools In The Country.
Simmons here explains that, actually, it’s the individuals who can literally make or break a team’s season. The future success of a team has nothing to do with their past accomplishments and reputation, and has everything to do with the players and coaches who presently make up that team. What a concept.
Although, one can argue that a team’s brand can help in some aspects. For example, Ohio State’s brand is winning the best rivalry game in the county, sending players to the NFL and having an obnoxious fanbase (I’ve been told), which in turn attracts the best of the best individuals in college football.
That’s how Ohio State gets guys like Ezekiel Elliott, who more or less dictated Ohio State’s 2015 playoff win against Alabama; Ryan Day, who is putting together a recruiting class that may go down in history as the best ever; and Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa and Chase Young, who were all top-three overall draft picks practically back to back to back.
It’s also likely how they got graduate transfer Trey Sermon, who Simmons believes is one of twenty individuals who could “provide forks in the college football roadmap.”
“There aren’t many holes in the Ohio State roster. Maybe the nation’s best quarterback, one of the top offensive lines in the country, a loaded receiver group and a defense that has elite playmakers at every level. The question mark is at running back. After the departure of J.K. Dobbins to the NFL, Ohio State was left with a fleet of backs coming off injury. While Master Teague (who suffered an Achilles injury in the spring) has shown some promise, Trey Sermon’s transfer in from Oklahoma brings pass-catching versatility and explosiveness that the Buckeyes lacked. This season when Ohio State calls for a workhorse out of the backfield like it did last season against Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin, Sermon will need to be the guy.”
If a team is going to have a question mark, the running back position is not the ideal spot to have it. As Simmons notes, and as we are all well aware, big games often rely on the back’s production. So when two out of three running backs on scholarship became injured, well, I’d be lying if I said panic didn’t ensue across Buckeye Nation.
You have third-year sophomore Master Teague, who finished seventh in the Big Ten in rushing last year as a backup (!) to Dobbins, with 789 yards and 4 touchdowns at 5.8 yards per carry. As such, he was projected to be Ohio State’s No. 1 guy until he suffered an Achilles injury on the first day of Spring practice.
Then there’s sophomore Marcus Crowley, who before tearing his ACL against Maryland on Nov. 9, averaged 9.5 yards on 25 carries as a true freshman.
Before Sermon came into the picture, Teague’s and Crowley’s injuries left Ohio State with one healthy running back on scholarship— redshirt freshman Steele Chambers, who only carried the football 19 times last season.
So obviously, former Oklahoma RB Trey Sermon was a major get and an even bigger need for running backs coach Tony Alford. During his three seasons as a Sooner, Sermon rushed for over 2,023 yards and 21 touchdowns before a knee injury cut his junior year short.
Sermon is giving the Buckeyes exactly what they need— a healthy running back who has experience playing in the Power-Five and who, when paired with the offense Ohio State has, could shine even brighter than he did in Norman. Plus, it’ll give Teague and Crowley time to fully heal.
“The interesting thing about Trey Sermon, if you put him on a balanced offense, it’s going to be hard to gang up and try and stop him,” Urban Meyer said in a recent FOX Sports segment. “An elite offensive line, elite quarterback, elite receivers, that’s the best formula for an elite running back. If Trey Sermon stays healthy, I saw him up close and personal, he’s going to have a big-time year.”
Will Sermon put up the same record-breaking numbers that J.K. Dobbins did? Probably not. But, if he capitalizes on every opportunity, he could be the difference between a great offense and an unstoppable one.