From now until preseason camp starts in August, Land-Grant Holy Land will be writing articles around a different theme every week. This week is all about players to watch this upcoming season. You can catch up on all of the Theme Week content here and all of our ”Player to Watch” articles here.
To me a player to watch can’t be obvious. There also has to be a real chance that they will have an opportunity to impact games on a regular basis. With the many positions there are quite a few players with lofty expectations coming from the Buckeye faithful, but there is one that I have my eye on.
With one of the most explosive plays in the Spring Game, Chip Trayanum is the player Buckeyes fans should all have on their short list of potential breakout stars. Coming into last season as a transfer linebacker, kick returner, and special teamer, Trayanum found his way back to the offensive side of the ball due to injuries in the running back room. His name was called to the ire of Ohio State fans when Trayanum was the feature back against Michigan.
To me, this spelled the level of trust the coaching staff had in him, his size and speed combination. He also flashed this when he was outrunning the entire defense in the Spring Game. There is not a running back in the room with his skillset. Trayanum may not be a household name, but he will be by the time the season is over. That is why he is my offensive player to watch.
What he brings to the table
To get started, Trayanum brings an incredible blend of size and athleticism. He is 5-foot-11 and weighs over 230 pounds. When it comes to his level of athleticism, going back to high school he was a player that can be an individual matchup on anybody. Against Massillon-Washington in the OHSAA playoffs, he guarded Jayden Ballard, who was already a certified burner. This is not a task a coach would leave to someone unless they had the speed and mobility to stick on a legitimate 4.3 forty speed guy in high school.
On top of that, he still played his normal running back duties, and this is why he was such a lauded prospect as a recruit. Coming out of high school, he was recruited by most Big Ten schools as a linebacker. This led to him making a decision to play running back at a school that would allow him to be just that, Arizona State. Given his recruiting history, it is crazy that he has found his way back to Ohio State.
After starting out at linebacker, depth led to him being needed at running back. With Miyan Williams, Evan Pryor, and Treveyon Henderson out this Spring, he was the lead back getting the majority of reps. We saw the explosiveness and the work put in during the Spring Game, and his skillset is different than both Williams and Henderson.
His size isn’t matched by anybody else in the room, and the only player who can match his straight line speed is Henderson. Trayanum brings a dynamic mix to the room, and we all know that at least three backs will get real reps this season.
Why you should have him on your radar
Going back to last offseason, the rest of the team couldn’t hold back their excitement they had seeing Trayanum perform feats of athleticism. His athletic prowess stood out immediately, and some players with serious time in the program had high praise for the Arizona State transfer.
“Chip is probably one of the most athletic people I’ve seen come through this facility, already being here in the offseason,” former Ohio State linebacker Teradja Mitchell said during last year’s preseason.
Steele Chambers called him Hercules. To put some context to this players, don’t just blow smoke when it comes to athleticism. These are a bunch of people who have always been the best athletes on their team, so for this level of praise, getting the ball in his hands is a must.
To add another part to why he should be on everybody’s radar, Trayanum has averaged 5.5 yards per carry in his career. That is not to the level of Williams or Henderson, but looking across the country, that’s pretty damn good. For Chip, his battle has been consistency, behind the Arizona State line this was hard to find.
At Ohio State, he averaged over five yards per carry against Michigan. In the Spring Game, Trayanum led all rushers with 110 yards with a long run of 65 yards to open the scoring for the offense. He had 80 more rush yards than Hayden, and showed an extra gear that the young back just doesn’t have.
Overall, the strong spring and athletic profile makes it feel like Trayanum won’t be held off the field. Also, dealing with the wear-and-tear of being one of two healthy scholarship backs this spring shows he has the durability to make it a full season with a real work load.
A propaganda clip
Would it be an article I wrote without some propaganda film added to the piece. Ohio State loves their wide zone run game. What that takes is patience as well as a sudden burst. Once the lane shows, the back needs to have the acceleration to take a crease and turn it into the big game.
That is what Trayanum brings to the table, and maybe I’m reading too far into this clip, but this and the Hercules comparison have me buying into all of the Trayanum stock.
There is a threshold of athleticism that takes a player to another realm. This doesn’t always translate to on-field success though. Trayanum tried his hand at linebacker after not playing the position for two years. He got playing time, but there was not a lot of volume on the defensive side of the ball. Lack of depth brought him home from the defensive pilgrimage he went on.
Now that he is in his rightful place, he has the gamebreaking level of athleticism needed to turn a lane into a touchdown. There has not been a back with this combination of size and speed since Ezekiel Elliot. This is not to say he will be Zeke, though. Trayanum will share carries, but his value will be taking advantage of tired defenses. Williams will probably end up with the most carries, but if Trayanum can add to the explosiveness out of the backfield with Henderson, this could be the most dangerous room in the country.
Trayanum is built different. There is not a superlative athletically he has not earned among his teammates. Ohio State has a secret weapon on their hands. He showed he can handle the grind this spring. Now it is time for him to live up to the lofty expectations I have set for him.