Ohio State has a long proud tradition of successful players at the running back position. Whether it be in terms of Heisman Trophy winners or just outstanding careers in general, the Buckeyes have touted some incredible backs throughout their football history. This is especially true when you think of the various Ohio State football eras from Woody Hayes to Ryan Day, each generation has had a historic back to help lead the team’s on-field success.
Without getting into all of the players, just think of the Hayes era boasting Archie Griffin, Earl Bruce having Keith Byars, John Cooper with Eddie George, Jim Tressel had Maurice Clarett, for Urban Meyer it was Ezekiel Elliott, and in just his first few years, Ryan Day had J.K. Dobbins.
Fortunately for OSU, the present — and near future — look to be just as bright as any other time in program history thanks to the true freshman phenom TreVeyon Henderson. Yes, not even a full season under his belt and already Henderson is drawing comparisons to the aforementioned Elliott and rightfully so. The combination of speed, power, and the ability to be a threat in the passing game all make Henderson a weapon that Ohio State is thrilled to have for — at the very minimum — two and a half more seasons.
Coming out of high school, Henderson was the top-ranked running back in the country. As his freshman campaign neared, you began to get the idea that he might not start right away, but he eventually would be the top guy at the position and would be leading the Buckeyes on the ground the rest of the year. It took all of two games to see why he was the best option, and now, he’s poised to be in the Heisman conversation at the end of the regular season.
In saying all this, Henderson as a whole is the best recruiting pitch the Buckeye staff and RBs coach Tony Alford will use in the 2023 cycle as they look to land their top target. In the 2022 class, Ohio State has a commitment from Dallan Hayden who is currently the 26th ranked running back in the class as well as the 274th best player overall per 247sports. Not the type of highly ranked guy that the Buckeyes usually go after, Hayden was still a top priority on their board and getting him in the fold was a big time win for the staff. Thanks to the current depth in the room, a second back in the 2022 cycle is completely unnecessary.
Looking ahead to 2023 though, Ohio State’s top running back target is five-star Florida native, Richard Young; the nation’s top ranked running back in the class and the 21st best player nationally per the 247sports Composite grades. At 6-foot, 190 pounds, Young is only a high school junior and has another season to improve on his already incredibly talented profile — which is scary considering thathe already holds offers from over 40 programs.
Last on campus in July for Ohio State’s barbecue recruiting event, it’s been clear that the Buckeyes are going after Young harder than any other at the position and they can afford to do so. After only taking the one back in 2022, the Buckeyes know they have every ability to focus on the prized recruit and now have a little extra confidence in the back of their minds as they can directly relate Henderson to Young as their example of what can happen if the latter does in fact decide to play at Ohio State.
All OSU and Alford need to do is show Young the production that Henderson is having so early in his career and odds are that the back will immediately see what his career could look like in Columbus. The ability to have a true freshman on the field this early and making a significant difference is the best possible pitch you could have in your recruiting arsenal.
In addition, by the time that Young would be on campus for the Buckeyes — barring any unforeseen circumstances — Henderson would likely already be in his last year for Ohio State. This one-year overlap would be positive in OSU’s favor as it would mean that after a year of spelling Henderson when needed, Young could immediately slide into the RB1 spot.
Alford was at Young’s high school last week during the off-week, which shows just how valuable the back is to the staff. Ohio State has done it before in landing the top overall running back in the country and thanks to the success that Henderson is already having, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities to think that they could do it once again in 2023.
It’s not a lock by any means, considering how many top schools will be in his ear over the next year, but if there’s ever been a time for the Buckeyes to lock down another top player at this position, it’s now. With TreVeyon Henderson showing what No. 1 running backs can do early on in Ryan Day’s system, the Buckeyes look poised to make another serious run at bringing in the nation’s top running back in 2023.