Welcome to a new series here at Land-Grant Holy Land — Freshman Focus. With the calendar turning over to March and spring on the horizon, the players will be working their way back to the practice fields to prepare for the 2021 campaign. That being the case, now is a great time to introduce you to Ohio State’s incredibly talented freshman class. Each edition of Freshman Focus will highlight one of the newest Buckeyes, and will hopefully provide a glimpse at what they will bring to the team in the coming years.
Today’s freshman: TreVeyon Henderson.
Hailing out of Hopewell, VA, TreVeyon Henderson comes to Ohio State as a five-star prospect and the No. 1 running back in the 2021 class according to the 247Sports Composite. A top-10 player in the cycle overall by 247Sports’ own rankings, the 5-foot-11, 195-pound ball-carrier is undoubtably one of the best incoming freshman players in the country overall, let alone the top guy at his position.
As is the case, Henderson was highly sought after on the recruiting trail. Earning around 40 scholarship offers for his services, the talented tailback received interest from nearly every top program around the country, including the likes of Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas and many others. In the end, Tony Alford — with the aide of Al Washington — was able to win him over, and so Henderson wound up calling Columbus his new home after committing to Ohio State back in March of 2020.
Henderson was an absolute monster at Hopewell High School, playing both running back and free safety for the Blue Devils. With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the cancellation of the fall football season in the state of Virginia, Henderson was not able to play his senior season, but he did more than enough to showcase his skillset as a junior. Helping lead Hopewell to its second consecutive state title, Henderson ran for over 2,400 yards with an unbelievable 45 touchdowns in addition to over 280 receiving yards and another five scores through the air.
The guy is simply a human highlight reel:
For his tremendous efforts, Henderson was named the 2019 Gatorade Virginia Player of the Year, and made the USA Today All-USA second team offense. Overall in his high school career, the running back compiled over 4,000 rushing yards in addition to his play on the defensive side of the ball. As a DB, Henderson compiled over 150 solo tackles with eight interceptions, 11 pass breakups and three fumble recoveries across three seasons. Henderson was also an excellent track athlete, running a 10.94 PR in the 100 meters.
Understandably, the expectations for Henderson at the next level are incredibly high. In his scouting report, 247Sports national recruiting analyst Brain Dohn projects him as a future first-round NFL Draft pick, with his player comparison being none other than star Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey. Here are just a few of the things Dohn had to say of Henderson’s abilities:
“Combines vision, burst, balance, cut-back ability and speed. Gets through the hole quickly but also runs with patience. Instinctive runner. Is a cerebral player and dissects play quickly. Has elite change of direction. Can score from anywhere on the field. Has to show he can pick up blitz in college. Should get on the field early in his freshman season and can make an impact with a title-contending program.”
Henderson comes to Ohio State at an interesting time, as the starting running back job is not nearly set in stone. The Buckeyes’ rushing offense rode the tail of Trey Sermon at the end of last season, but he is now off to pursue his dreams in the NFL. Master Teague began the year as Ohio State’s starting back, but he struggled at times and, while talented in his own right, isn’t exactly the type of explosive runner that Ryan Day’s offense excels with like that of Sermon and J.K. Dobbins before him.
This opens the door for Henderson to take on a significant role in year one. It wouldn't be crazy for the blue chip prospect to earn the starting job out of the gate, as he is the first five-star running back to sign with Ohio State since Beanie Wells in 2006. It also wouldn’t be the first time a freshman started at running back for the Buckeyes in recent memory, as Dobbins started the season opener against Indiana in 2017 — albeit out of necessity with an injury to Mike Weber — and would go on to rush for over 1,400 yards that season. With Henderson’s tremendous skillset, that idea is certainly not out of the question.
Regardless of if he is the starter in year one or not, Henderson is going to see the field this season, and will be a multi-year starter in the future. Whether he is a change of pace back for guys like Teague and Miyan Williams in 2021, or simply comes on strong and earns the starting job later in the year, Henderson is just too good to not make an impact in the upcoming campaign. Even if his name isn’t at the top of the depth chart in the season opener against Minnesota, it would not be at all surprising if that changes before the trip to Ann Arbor at year’s end.
Tony Alford will have no shortage of options at his disposal, but he is definitely thrilled to be adding a five-star talent to a deep but wide open position group. Of all the incoming freshmen at Ohio State on the offensive side of the ball — besides maybe Kyle McCord who will compete for the starting QB job, but we’ll get to him at another time — Henderson has the best chance to see the field a significant amount in 2021.