Last year Ohio State made the biggest splash in the transfer market when they were able to bring in Georgia quarterback Justin Fields to replace Dwayne Haskins. Now, Fox's lead commentator Joel Klatt believes the Buckeyes have secured the most impactful transfer in the country for the second year in a row.
With the injury to Master Teague, Ryan Day knew Ohio State had to somehow address the running back position. The second-year head coach didn't waste much time in shoring up the position, gaining the transfer commitment of Oklahoma running back Trey Sermon.
Following the loss of J.K. Dobbins to the NFL, there was already questions about what the running back position would look like in 2020 in Columbus. Teague rushed for nearly 800 yards in 2019 but the Tennessee product struggled to find traction late in the year, rushing for just 45 yards on 21 carries against Penn State, Michigan, and Clemson.
The addition of Sermon means that Teague doesn't have to rush back from the Achilles injury he suffered in spring practice. As if the injury to Teague wasn't enough to deal with, backup Marcus Crowley is also recovering from injury after suffering a torn ACL in the win over Marylnd. Had the Buckeyes not been able to add Sermon, Ohio State might have entered preseason camp with Steele Chambers as the only healthy running back with experience. Chambers carried the football 19 times in 2019.
Enter Trey Sermon, who rushed for over 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns in three seasons with the Sooners. Sermon's best season came in 2018, when he rushed for 947 yards and 13 touchdowns as he lined up in the backfield with eventual Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray.
Last year Sermon wasn't able to replicate his 2018 performance, but a lot of that had to do with the addition of Alabama transfer quarterback Jalen Hurts, who carried the football 233 times. When Hurts wasn't running the football, Kennedy Brooks saw the bulk of the carries, rushing 151 times for 1,011 yards and six touchdowns. It also didn't help that Sermon missed the last five games of the year due to a knee injury, but he likely wasn't going to be the feature back even if healthy.
With Brooks returning, Sermon knew he was going to have to go elsewhere in 2020 if he wanted to make an impact. Oklahoma also has Rhamondre Stevenson on the roster but the junior is currently suspended. Stevenson ran for 515 yards and six touchdowns in 2019. The Sooners have appealed the NCAA's suspension of Stevenson that was announced before the Peach Bowl loss to LSU, so they are doing everything they can to bring Stevenson back on the field.
As soon as Sermon announced he was entering the transfer portal, Ohio State seemed like a perfect fit. The Buckeyes desperately needed experience at running back, which Sermon has plenty of. Sermon played with two Heisman Trophy winners and a Heisman Trophy finalist in his three years in Norman while the Sooners made the College Football Playoff in all three of those seasons.
With receivers like Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, and Julian Fleming, it's no secret that Justin Fields will look to pass first, but the addition of Sermon will force opponents to also respect the run. Sermon won't put up numbers like Dobbins did last seasons but his skillset will keep defenses from loading up against the pass. It also won't hurt that Sermon will be running behind an offensive line that returns three talented starters.
When looking at how the Sermon transfer stacks up against other players who entered the transfer portal and are immediately eligible, it's hard to find a transfer that could be more impactful. The transfer of quarterback Jamie Newman from Wake Forest to Georgia is big, but after watching the offense of the Bulldogs recently, I'm not convinced Kirby Smart and his coaching staff will properly utilize Newman.
K.J. Costello moving from Stanford to Mississippi State, D'Eriq King's transfer from Houston to Miami, and Keytayon Thompson heading to Virginia from Mississippi State are all moves that will pay dividends, but it's hard to see them impacting the national title race like the addition of Sermon to the Buckeyes will.
With Sermon in the mix, not only will Ohio State have confidence they'll be able to run the football, they also won't have to rush Teague and Crowley back, which could see Ohio State's opponents having to deal with some fresh legs later in the season. There's no question this was another masterful move in the transfer window by Ryan Day.