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Column: A quick look at the running back room as Fall Camp begins for Ohio State

The running back room was center stage during media availability, so let’s look at what the room brings to the table entering the 2022 season

NCAA Football: Ohio State Spring Game Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Fall camp is underway in Columbus, Ohio and the Ohio State Buckeyes are ready to start the journey of their 2022 season. The Buckeyes bring back an explosive offensive with a ton of talent and high expectations entering camp coming off a year where they ranked near the top of the country in every major category. A significant reason for the offense’s success was the explosive nature of the running back room.

This room returns the featured back in Treveyon Henderson, who led the team in rushing and set the Ohio State freshman record for touchdowns, as well as the bulldozing Miyan Williams, who had some big play ability in his own right. Position coach Tony Alford also had high praise for Evan Pryor as he heads into year two for the Buckeyes. With a core like this, expectations should be high and improvement should be expected from all three players with another year of maturity.

Looking ahead, there is no reason this room shouldn’t be in the conversation for best in the country. Last year, the group was not always perfect, and this year they won’t have to be. That being said, the running backs should be a dangerous weapon for Ryan Day, and if he can unlock it this offense will be unstoppable.

A quick look at last year

This room, despite relying on two first time contributors, looked exceptional for most of the season. As a group, they return 84.6 percent of their rushing yards and they bring back 85.2 percent of the touchdowns from the position. This is an incredible place to start for the Buckeyes, and this experience should count for something.

The one issue for the Buckeyes with this group was the list of health problems they faced. Having another year under the belts of Williams, Henderson, and Pryor should also lead to some more durability this season. Henderson came into his first season at Ohio State after not playing football for year. This weighed on him, as he ended up battling a concussion and the physical wear made Henderson struggle a little bit late in the season. Williams battled an undisclosed illness as well as some other health issues on top of a few injuries throughout the season, and his production level dropped off as well. Pryor just wasn’t physically ready to take on the work load of a consistent contributor, but all signs point to a big role this year.

If the Buckeyes can remain healthy, the experience gained last year will be invaluable. The group will need to be tougher and convert in short yardage situations, which was a major struggle last year. The explosiveness is already there, and they really have a group of players with three different skill sets that can hurt opponents.

The current running back room

TreVeyon Henderson (183 attempts, 1248 yards, 19 Touchdowns)

Henderson came onto the scene with an explosive 70 yard touchdown against Minnesota to to give the Buckeyes the lead in the fourth quarter. From then on expectations were set, and the freshman running back was one of the most exciting stories in the sport through the first four games.

After the controversial statement he made about playing through a concussion, the running back began to fade in production. After a huge performance against Penn State, Henderson failed to eclipse 100 yards rushing again on the season. This is where Henderson will be looking to improve. His explosiveness gave Buckeye fans a lot to be excited about, and becoming a more well-rounded back will go a long way for the offense.

Here is a look at what Henderson can bring to the table from an explosive, power, and balance stand point:

Miyan Williams (71 attempts, 508 yards, 3 touchdowns)

Williams was the starter week one of the season and carved out a consistent role for the Buckeyes until he ran into some health issues. His skill set starts with his agility and his innate ability to make defenders miss. This gave him quite a few highlight juke moves on his tape from last season, and he will be looking to build off that skill set this year.

Where Williams can improve is harnessing his powerful running style and becoming a bell cow in short yardage. Despite being hard to tackle and incredibly physical, he still wasn’t always reliable in short yardage situations like fans would hope. For a true thunder and lightning dynamic, Williams will need to continue to run hard, but build more on the battering ram aspect of his game.

Here is a look at the shiftiness and power Miyan Williams is bringing into the season:

Evan Pryor (21 attempts, 98 yards, 1 touchdown)

Last season Pryor was the fifth back on the depth chart. With Marcus Crowley medically retiring and Master Teague III heading to the NFL, Pryor now has a significant opportunity to prove he belongs in the Buckeye backfield. As a recruit he was touted for his explosiveness and shiftiness, which flashed in his limited play last time last season. This year in the Spring Game he got to show off his skills even more.

This skillset should bring balance to the styles of Henderson and Williams, and if a team doesn’t want to focus attention on Pryor he has the talent to do damage to opposing defenses.

Here is a look at Evan Pryor showing his acceleration, shiftiness, and stiff arm in the Spring Game:

Dallan Hayden (N/A incoming freshman)

Hayden will not have an expansive role on the offense this season, but with a rather thin group he still should receive some ample playing opportunity. He brings an all-around skillset with no true calling card heading into the first season. His high school highlights showed a great blend of shiftiness and power, while also showing more explosiveness his senior season. This mix should set him up for some success early, and if he can build on that, he has the upside to be a featured back in the future for Ohio State.

The first media session with players and coach was the running back position group. As a unit, “Tote Nation” has high expectations for themselves. Tony Alford spoke on how the group has been carrying themselves and the experience is showing in their day-to-day work.

Alford mentioned how well they approaching the game on and off the field, saying, “When they’re talking the game, they’re they’re articulating the way that we play and using our terminology, and they’re understanding the game of football much more than they did at any time in point last year. But that’s just called maturation. That’s how it should be.”

Entering camp the roles were well established and complacency could have set in, but all of the players in the room are preparing for the huge opportunity this season will provide. The combination of work ethic, talent, and understanding provide the expectations that this room should be much improved.

This maturity level should raise expectations even higher, and this room has all the ability to be one of the best in the country. Coach Alford has the room poised for success, and the value of having three capable backs will pay dividends down the stretch. The one thing that can truly take the offense to another level is a balanced and explosive run game.

The only things left to learn are the rotations, roles, and how many carries each back will get in the games. As we get further into camp, expect to hear more about the business mindset this room is taking. With few eyes on the running backs, they’ll be able to work in silence until the Buckeyes take on Notre Dame and the group can show the rest of the country who they really are.