It’s not the best sign when a couple of your linebackers have moved over from running back over the last few years. Luckily for Ohio State, the linebackers that have moved from the offensive side of the football are two tremendous athletes. Last year, Steele Chambers got his feet wet at linebacker at the college level, becoming a key contributor on a Buckeye defense that struggled. This year, Arizona State transfer DeaMonte “Chip” Trayanum hopes to follow a similar path.
Trayanum is off to a great start in scarlet and gray, becoming the first player in fall camp to lose his black stripe. The transfer joins Tanner McAlister, Kye Stokes, and Caden Curry as new Buckeyes to have their black stripe removed, in addition to Jyaire Brown just this Tuesday. The other three officially became part of the Ohio State brotherhood during spring practices.
The new Buckeye is originally from Akron, playing on both sides of the football for Archbishop Hoban. Trayanum was a four-star prospect, ranking as one of the top players in Ohio coming out of high school. Even though Ohio State recruited Trayanum, Arizona State earned his commitment because they recruited him exclusively at running back. Ohio State recruited him on both sides of the football, keeping their options open to play him in the position that would help the team most.
In two years at Arizona State, Trayanum carried the football 127 times for 692 yards, scoring 10 touchdowns for the Sun Devils. The Akron product burst onto the scene in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, rushing for 84 yards and two touchdowns in his first college game against USC. In his next game, Trayanum recorded the only 100-yard rushing game of his college career, racking up 108 yards against UCLA.
2021 saw Trayanum receive even more work at running back, rushing for 402 yards and six touchdowns. Even though he didn’t reach triple digits in any game, Trayanum had solid performances against UCLA, where he rushed for 68 yards and a score, followed by an 89-yard game a few weeks later against Washington State, where he also found the end zone.
Even though Trayanum was set to be Arizona State’s leading returning rusher this year after Rachaad White was selected in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the increase in carries wasn’t enough to keep Trayanum from entering the transfer portal. The lure of Trayanum to return to Ohio and play for the premier college football program in the state was too much to pass up. Trayanum gave head coach Ryan Day a big Christmas present, announcing on Dec. 25 he would be joining the Buckeyes.
After trying his hand at running back, Trayanum is eager to return to the defensive side of the football. With guys like Tommy Eichenberg and Steele Chambers already entrenched in their roles at linebacker, Ohio State doesn’t need Trayanum to be an every-down linebacker. Where Trayanum will provide value is giving the Buckeyes an athletic option to spell the starters when they need a breather. Also, if the linebacker unit is dealt some bad injury luck, Trayanum helps the depth of the group.
Since Trayanum’s first year of college football came during 2020 when COVID-19 shortened the season, he still has three years of college eligibility left. While it would be great to see him make a ton of plays at linebacker for the Buckeyes this year, Jim Knowles and the defensive coaching staff can ease him back into the role. Where it will really be interesting to see what Trayanum does on the field will be in 2023 and 2024. Ohio State can follow a similar plan as they did with Chambers, where they gradually gave him more time at linebacker to allow his confidence at the position to grow.
Even though the defense hasn’t performed up to expectations the last few years, there is reason for optimism this year and going forward, especially at linebacker. After having what seemed like too few linebackers last year, now it almost feels like there might be too many, which is a great problem to have. With the amount of linebackers that are hungry for reps, it will force those in the group to be at their best on every snap, or else there is someone waiting to take those snaps and make a name for themselves. Expect to see Trayanum be one of those to earn more snaps as the season goes on.