“O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?” ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley
I can only surmise that the author of the epic work “Ozymandias” did not spend too much time in the great state of Ohio. The answer is simply, and painfully, no.
As it gets closer and closer to the official start of Ohio State spring football, I have decided to write a series of articles on a weekly basis to identify and rank the position groups, from least to most concerning, as they pertain to the upcoming 2023 season. Each week, I will point out questions I have about these position groups, and it is my hope that several, if not all, of these questions will be answered by the Ohio State Spring Game on April 15.
The Running Backs | Concern Ranking: 8th
- Scholarship Players Lost From The 2022 Squad: None
- Scholarship Players Returning From The 2022 Squad: Dallan Hayden, TreVeyon Henderson, Evan Pryor, Chip Trayanum, Miyan Williams
- Freshmen Players Participating In 2023 Spring Football: No scholarship players
Reason For My Ranking: Quite simply as it is listed above, Ohio State is not losing any of their top running backs from the 2022 team. Yes, Ohio State had to continually shuffle their lineup due to injuries, and TreVeyon Henderson and Evan Pryor will be among the group of players sitting out this spring.
Both players should be ready to go by the time of fall camp. Even without Henderson and Pryor this spring, the talent and depth is there for Ohio State to have a strong running game in the 2023 season.
- Can Dallan Hayden establish himself as the third tailback on the depth chart?
Dallan Hayden had a fine freshman season, rushing for 553 yards and five touchdowns on 111 carries, averaging five yards per carry. Against Indiana on Nov. 12, Hayden carried the ball 19 times for 102 yards and a touchdown. Hayden’s high point was when he carried the ball 27 times for 146 yards and three touchdowns at Maryland on Nov. 19.
It was those performances by Hayden versus Indiana and Maryland that had Ohio State fans puzzled as to why Hayden was not more involved in the game plan versus Michigan the following week. Against the Wolverines, Hayden had only two carries for seven yards, and was pretty much a non-factor. Hayden wound up being Ohio State’s leading rusher in The Peach Bowl versus Georgia, carrying the ball nine times for 43 yards, as both TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams were battling injuries.
According to Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford in a recent conversation with the media, Hayden needs to continue to, “eliminating the noise around him.” Perhaps Hayden will do that, and will become the trusted third tailback that Ohio State will likely need for the 2023 season.
2. Is Chip Trayanum another batch of ‘Thunder’ in Ohio State’s backfield?
Chip Trayanum had quite the 2022 season for Ohio State. Trayanum transferred from Arizona State — where he played running back — to play linebacker for the Buckeyes, and wound up moving back to the running back position in October after injuries began impacting the running back depth chart. Trayanum actually wound up carrying the ball 14 times for 83 yards versus Michigan, which was surprising. This was, after all, the biggest game of the season, and only one week after Dallan Hayden’s big game at Maryland.
Now firmly entrenched as a running back, Trayanum offers a physical style of play comparable to his teammate Miyan Williams. Listed at 5-foot-11, 230 pounds, perhaps Trayanum can be the type of back who will wear down the opposition in the latter portions of a contest?
3. Can Miyan Williams stay healthy in 2023?
Ohio State’s leading rusher in 2022 with 825 yards and 14 touchdowns, Williams’ absence was keenly felt down the homestretch, as he sustained an ankle injury versus Indiana on Nov. 12 that limited his effectiveness versus Michigan and Georgia. Williams played sparingly in both games, and was unable to consistently provide the type of running attack to keep opposing defenses honest.
It would not be surprising if Williams is kept on a pitch count during spring practices, comparable to my expectations of his teammate Marvin Harrison Jr. After all, why risk losing Williams to injury in the spring, when he will be needed for actual games? The biggest question is will Williams be able to stay healthy in 2023, as Ohio State fans saw what happened when he was unable to effectively play in 2022.