Heading into the College Football Playoff, Trey Sermon got all of the headlines at running back. Sermon rushed for 524 yards in wins over Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship Game and Clemson in the Sugar Bowl. The Buckeyes were put in a tough spot though in the title game against Alabama when Sermon exited after the first play after suffering a broken collarbone.
Even though he didn’t see nearly the work that Sermon did late in the season, another running back who did raise the eyebrows of Ohio State fans was Miyan Williams. The freshman only saw three carries in the victory over Clemson, but those carries were enough to have Buckeye fans already looking forward to seeing Williams in the backfield next year.
The hype train for Williams could have gained even more steam had the running back not been ruled out of the national title game because of COVID-19 protocols. Williams not making the trip to Miami ended up being an even bigger hit for Ohio State after Sermon was lost on the first play of the game, leaving Master Teague to take the bulk of the carries against the Crimson Tide.
Williams originally had committed to Iowa State, but flipped to Ohio State after the Buckeyes missed out on Texas running back Bijan Robinson. Williams was just a three-star recruit coming out of high school, which made him even hungrier to make an impact. Even though the 5-foot-8, 227-pound ballcarrier knows he wasn’t one of the top running backs in the country, he didn’t let the snub get to him, instead preferring to allow his play on the field do the talking.
While Williams does have some momentum from how he finished his freshman year, he knows he still has plenty of work to do to earn carries in the Ohio State backfield over the next few years. Not only will Teague return with a chip on his shoulder after limited usage to close out the season, the Buckeyes will also welcome highly touted recruits TreVeyon Henderson and Evan Pryor into the fold. At least Williams already has experience being doubted, so there’s no question that he’ll work tirelessly to earn his place in the Ohio State offense.
Ohio State brings back both of its starting tackles, but Paris Johnson will still try to force his way into the lineup as a sophomore. https://t.co/KeaLfzJnKn— Eleven Warriors (@11W) January 21, 2021
An Ohio State offensive lineman who is hoping to be clearing the path for Williams in the fall is Paris Johnson Jr. Now the question for Johnson is going to be where on the line will he be lining up at? Johnson came to Columbus as the best offensive tackle in the country, drawing comparisons to former Buckeye Orlando Pace.
If the 6-foot-6, 305-pound blocker wants to see steady play in 2021, it won’t be at offensive tackle. Not only did Thayer Munford announce last week that he would be returning to Ohio State for another season, the Buckeyes also have Nicholas Petit-Frere at the other tackle spot. With both roles already occupied, Johnson will likely have to shift to guard for the 2021 season before moving back to tackle in 2022.
It’s not like Ohio State couldn’t use a talent like Johnson on the interior of the offensive line, though. In addition to Wyatt Davis declaring for the NFL Draft, the Buckeyes will also have to fill the void at center after Josh Myers joined Davis in declaring his intentions to move on to the professional ranks. Ohio State will have starting guard Harry Miller back, so it’s possible that Johnson could fill the other guard spot and leave the remaining offensive linemen to battle to takeover at center.
Even though Johnson playing on the interior of the offensive line isn’t his preferred position, it’s going to be hard to keep the talented lineman off the field. Some experience at a position other than tackle could also help Johnson as he works his way towards the NFL. Johnson was already thought of as one of the most talented prospects coming out of high school, and being able to play multiple positions on the offensive line will only draw more attention from NFL scouts.
Ohio State has a good problem to have right now. They have too many talented offensive linemen and not enough spots. With a new quarterback taking the snaps for Ohio State this year, as well as a young backfield, the Buckeyes are going to need a strong offensive line to protect their quarterback and clear holes for the running backs. No matter where Johnson lines up, there’s no doubt that Ohio State’s offensive line is going to be in good hands with him on the field.