Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.
Today’s Question: Which Ohio State performance was the most heart-string-tugging from the win over Toledo?
Jami’s Take: Dallan Hayden
At face value, there’s nothing particularly heartwarming about Ohio State’s 77-21 routing of Toledo on Saturday. It just seemed like a good, old-fashioned butt-kicking.
But the Buckeyes had plenty of moments on and off the field that could induce a cheesy grin or even a few happy tears. And while it was awesome to see the return of Julian Fleming, for me, nothing gets the tears rolling like someone getting their moment to shine for the first time.
When TreVeyon Henderson headed to the locker room with an unannounced injury in the first quarter, shortly after scoring his third touchdown of the season, OSU thankfully had two guys ready to go.
Miyan Williams did a great job filling that gap, but when he needed a breather, it was true freshman Dallan Hayden who made me a little weepy.
Hayden had massive shoes to fill in Henderson, and while Henderson’s injury is not expected to be long-term, Hayden’s performance on Saturday proved he is ready to go and has the potential to be the real deal.
Hayden finished the game with 108 yards on 17 carries, capping it off in the fourth quarter with his first touchdown as a Buckeye. While he has only played in two games so far this season (fourth-quarter clean-up against Arkansas State being the other), Hayden has proven that he has what it takes to really help out this team.
Any time a true freshman or new guy has a chance to take the field and really uses their moment to step up and prove why they deserve to be there is special. It can be especially emotional when they’re filling the shoes of a star.
Hayden was ready to step up. His practice and hard work were evident in the performance he gave. Nerves can still get the best of anyone, especially when the game’s outcome is still hanging in the balance. But Hayden’s confidence on the field was noticeable.
Having CJ Stroud as his quarterback certainly didn’t hurt. Stroud said he tried to give him a boost of confidence, encouraging him to go out and have fun playing the game he’s been playing since childhood. It helped Hayden relax, calm his nerves, and settle into his game. What we saw afterward gave us a glimpse at a future star.
It’s still very possible that we won’t see much more of Hayden this season in an attempt to preserve his chance to redshirt, but he proved on Saturday that he can do a lot to help this team as the No. 3 back. His future at OSU looks bright if this is what he’s capable of now as a freshman, and if we are lucky enough to see more of him this season, I’m excited to see what he can do and how he can continue to grow and gel with Stroud.
There were a lot of worthy options to pick from in Saturday’s 77-21 victory over Toledo. Jami, justifiably, went with true-freshman running back Dallan Hayden, and I think another worthy option would have been fellow RB, walk-on TC Caffey who delivered an unforgettable run in the second half.
But, for me, the only answer is wide receiver Julian Fleming. The Catawissa, Penn. native came to Columbus as the No. 1 wide receiver and No. 3 overall player in the 2020 recruiting class, but was almost immediately beset by injuries. The receiver has dealt with shoulder injuries, hamstring issues, and more.
These difficulties have conspired to limit him to just 19 receptions in his first two years as a Buckeye for 160 yards and a single score. However, against Toledo, Fleming finally got on the field, and with No. 1 WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba out, he had the opportunity to shine. While the third-year pass-catcher only caught three balls for 23 yards, two of his receptions were for touchdowns.
Knowing what Julian has been through — from the sky-high expectations that his recruiting ranking carries to the seemingly never-ending parade of maladies — I did get emotional on Saturday watching him celebrate his second score with his teammates.
I know I'm just a sentimental old man, but seeing a guy like Julian Fleming -- who has struggled with injuries so much in his career -- catch two TD passes really does my cranky heart good.— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) September 18, 2022
Granted, I tear up watching just about anything — especially “Great British Bakeoff” and Hallmark movies — but knowing how hard Fleming has worked to get to a position where he can finally be an integral part of the OSU offense is moving.
Before dealing with a shoulder injury in a preseason scrimmage, Fleming had been named an Iron Buckeye for his hard work and dedication to his offseason strength and conditioning program. He has put in the work, he obviously has the talent, he clearly has the drive — or he wouldn’t still be here — so to see it all come together in a really successful game was gratifying.
Will this lead to Fleming ascending the Ohio State and college football receiver rankings to even meet the expectations others had for him coming out of high school? I don’t know; I hope it does, but even if it doesn’t, I am happy for him that he had his moment(s) on Saturday.
Who has the right answer to today’s question?
Jami: Dallan Hayden
Matt: Julian Fleming