Even national championship contenders have concerns. And when J.K. Dobbins declared himself for the NFL Draft, Ohio State’s primary issue was front and center. Ryan Day high-powered offense was losing its star RB, and the program lacked depth at this position.
Dobbins isn’t going to be easy to replace anyway. The All-American was remarkably consistent and durable. Alongside the likes of Archie Griffin, Eddie George, Beanie Wells, Carlos Hyde and Ezekiel Elliott, he’s one of the premier backs in this school’s storied history. And the numbers support this claim:
(1) 4,459 career rushing yards (2nd all-time) over a 3-year collegiate career with 38 TDs and a 6.2 yards per carry average
(2) 100+ yards rushing in 10 games during his junior season
(3) The only Buckeye in team history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season
(4) Dobbins averaged 162 yards per games against three Top 4 rush defenses
Yep, he was good. The Houston native was also a dual threat who could catch the ball out of the backfield, which gave Day another dimension for his offense. With Dobbins taking his talents to the next level, Ohio State was expected to turn to Master Teague, who rushed for more than 700 yards as a backup last season. However, Teague suffered an Achilles injury in Ohio State’s first spring practice so his availability is uncertain.
Next man up, Marcus Crowley, is expected to return, but isn’t quite 100% yet after sustaining a season-ending knee injury last season. Steele Chambers is another talented, but inexperienced option. So there was some concern in Columbus.
Help is on the way. Sunday’s announcement that former Oklahoma running back Trey Sermon is transferring to Ohio State was welcome news for nervous Buckeyes fans. Sermon is immediately eligible as a graduate transfer and has 1 year of eligibility remaining.
The talented tailback is recovering from a leg injury that ended his season after only 8 games in 2019. He rushed for 385 yards and 4 TDs during an abbreviated campaign. During his first season in Norman, Sermon rushed for 744 yards and 5 TDs; he followed that with 947 yards and 13 TDs in 2018.
Sermon is expected to be declared healthy upon his arrival in Columbus. If so, he’ll bring explosiveness and power out of the backfield. And the national spotlight won’t daunt him after having experienced it while performing for another playoff contender in Norman.
With Sermon, Ohio State is poised for another title run. The Buckeyes also recruited some additional support in three-star talent Miyan Williams, who starred for Cincinnati’s Winton Woods High School. And they are striving to enhance their already strong 2021 class with more studs at running back.
They recently landed four-star RB Evan Pryor, the No. 5 ranked tailback in the Class of 2021. And Ohio State is said to be on the trails of another 5-star talent at the position. You can’t have too many running backs. This would be quite a rally after the program came up short on high-caliber RBs during earlier recruiting cycles.
For now, the Sermon addition is a nice get for Day. He has a Heisman Trophy candidate at QB and an outstanding corps of wide receivers. But this offense is at its best when it balances the run and the pass. J.K. Dobbins played a star role in Ohio State’s quest to accomplish this a year ago.
Buckeye Nation is hoping Trey Sermon does the same in 2020.