This week at Land-Grant Holy Land, we’ve been looking at potential records Ohio State players might be able to break in the upcoming season. Now, not every record is reasonable, but there are a few that stand out in terms of those that would really help the team, those that are potentially reachable, and those that are not going to happen. One of the greatest cliches in sports is that records are meant to be broken, but that doesn’t always mean they will be.
With a few career records definitely out of reach, those will not be mentioned, and the things about single-game records is they can happen any given Saturday. Looking at the potentially unreachable records will allow us to appreciate some previous legends, while also acknowledging the fact that some records will take a truly spectacular individual effort to get into the conversation.
Lets look at the records that have a long shot chance of happening, but realistically not being achieved. This includes career records and single-season stat records that won’t fall in 2022.
Rushing Yards in a Season - J.K. Dobbins (2019), 2003 yards
The Record: J.K. Dobbins had an incredible career at Ohio State, and when his time as the exclusive lead back for the Buckeyes arose, he did not waste the opportunity. Dobbins torched the the gauntlet of the B1G East and had a monster year with eight games over 150 rushing yards. The fact he was superbly talented, experienced, and didn’t have a true No. 2 with him allowed him to have the volume needed to eclipse 2,000 yards in a season.
Why it won’t happen: This year, Treveyon Henderson will be the lead back for the Buckeyes. Even with the amount of preseason hype, there will be a lot of challenges in a player obtaining that number this season. Henderson will be sharing the backfield with two other running backs who will cut into his yards and carries in Miyan Williams as well as the emerging Evan Pryor. The combination of sharing carries is enough to make this record unobtainable, but the Buckeyes’ offense is loaded with talent at other skill positions as well.
C.J. Stroud will warrant a large percentage of the offense in his own right, and this will be another deterrent of obtaining that rushing yard record. If Henderson were to chase this record, he will also have to maintain his high level of play for the entire season. If the Buckeyes play 15 games this year, this record could end up threatened, but overall this one is out of reach in 2022. The main key on why this won’t happen is there is one ball to go around, and the volume just won’t be there.
Quarterback Sacks in a Season - Chase Young (2019), 16.5 Sacks
The record: Chase Young was suspended for a game and triple teamed constantly down the four-game stretch to close out the season. Even still, his 16.5 sacks set a high bar, and over the last few seasons, the Buckeyes haven’t had a player of that caliber. Young had a few talented players sharing the defensive line with him, but the attention that was focused on Young opened up the game for the rest of the defense. His talent and motor were truly generational, which is why this record is going to be hard to match for any future Buckeyes.
Why it won’t happen: Last year’s pass rush was disappointing, without a single Buckeye recording double-digit sacks. If one of the pass rushers coming into the 2022 season achieves double-digit sacks, that would be an accomplishment in and of itself. Players like J.T. Tuimoloau, Jack Sawyer, and Tyliek Williams entering year two should give the Buckeyes an improved pass rush. The older guys have already shown they don’t have the juice to push double-digit sacks, so that leads to three players who can potentially threaten this record.
Williams is not an edge player, and that pretty much rules him out from this unless he becomes the second coming of Ndamukong Suh. The two ends in Tuimoloau and Sawyer should improve and challenge double-digits. That being said, they will more than likely take stats away from each other throughout the season. This is a record that will live at least another year, but if someone does break it, Larry Johnson did his thing again.
Receiving Touchdowns in a Season - Terry Glenn (1995), 17 Touchdowns
The Record: Before Brian Hartline came along and gave the Buckeyes a wide receiver unit that’s more on par with the Avengers or Justice League, the 1990’s gave us Terry Glenn. The late former Buckeye receiver was the standard, and in 1995 led the Buckeyes in yards, catches, and touchdowns. Glenn was a key part in laying the groundwork for the success over the next two seasons, but many are probably surprised to see this record still standing.
Why it won’t be broken: The Buckeyes are loaded at receiver, and last season the Buckeyes had three receivers capable of breaking that record — which was why none of them did. Jaxon Smith-Njigba will be close, and if the Buckeyes end up playing 15 games this season, this is the one I feel the least confident about standing. Logically speaking though, teams will pay more attention to Smith-Njigba, and if any of the other receivers emerge as a legitimate second option, Njigba’s numbers will take a hit.
The most likely scenario is Smith-Njigba being around 15 touchdowns, with the other receivers taking around 30 total between them. That also doesn’t include the running backs and tight ends getting involved, which probably will impact this pursuit as well. Of all the receivers since Glenn, Smith-Njigba probably has the best chance since David Boston, but this is not an easy record, especially with the eyes that will be on him from game one.
Kick Return Touchdowns in a Season - Lenny Willis (1974), 2 TDs
The Record: Lenny Willis has held this record for over four decades, and this is not one that is predictable in any way. The Buckeyes have had plenty of athletes back to return kicks over the years, but none of them have been able to replicate the success of Willis, who ran his two kicks back that season for a team that had an incredible list of Buckeye legends. Per his Wikipedia page, he was the fastest Buckeye on the team, and on that team of legends he stands alone with a record of his own.
Why it won’t be broken: This is a record that has a 17-place tie for second with one kick return in a single season. The Buckeyes just don’t return kicks for touchdowns often, with the last one being returned by Jordan Hall in 2010. Kickers have improved, and now for the most part kick the ball out of the back of the end zone, taking away any threats of a return. Ryan Day also is pretty conservative with kick returns, usually preferring to take the ball at the 25-yard line.
The likelihood of this record is incredibly random, but looking at the last 11 seasons is enough data to put this record highly in doubt. Last year, Emeka Egbuka showed some potential to be that guy, but with his potential expanded role on offense, there will probably be less emphasis on him taking risks as a kick returner. For the Buckeyes to achieve this they would have to end the long streak to return just one kick, then they’d have to do it again to tie the record at two. Three seems like a number that is in another galaxy when it comes to achievable goals, and the Buckeyes will either have to get lucky or creative to make this happen. Parker Fleming, that’s right, looking at you.
Rushing Attempts in a Season by Team - Ohio State (1977), 769 Attempts
The Record: College football has changed a lot since the 1970s, and this record lives in history from a different time in the world. Woody Hayes was still on the sideline, that meant three yards and a cloud of dust was the way to win. Physical football was the name of the game, and that meant hammering the ball for incremental gains until the will of the opponent bent and gave way to a score. The likelihood of eclipsing even 500 rushing attempts in this era takes a strong commitment to the run, but getting into the 700’s is not even a realistic possibility at this point.
Why this record won’t be broken: Ryan Day was a quarterback and he has a potential No. 1 overall pick at the position. This means the Buckeyes will throw a lot, and that takes away from rushing numbers. In 1977, Ohio State quarterback Rod Gerald threw the ball just over 100 times, giving the Buckeyes one of their highest volume passers of the decade. Last year, the running backs had just over 400 carries, which gave the offense the necessary balance to be dangerous. The Buckeyes will not be straying away too much from that this season, and that leads to the conclusion that this record might be unbreakable.
Not every record is not meant to be broken every single season. There are a lot of variables that go into breaking records, starting with individual talent and ending with pure luck at times. The Buckeyes can reasonably not break a single record this season while still reaching all of their goals, but they do have some players like Stroud and Smith-Njigba who are capable of rewriting the record books.
Even though these records definitely won’t be broken, it doesn’t mean that players can’t have great individual seasons. There are a ton of historical performances that aren’t records, but also still stand the tests of time. Outside of the aforementioned players, this roster will need to improve in a lot of ways to make some of the records feel threatened at all. If any of the records mentioned fall, that will be a cause for celebration. Heck, even come back here and rub it in that these predictions were wrong.