Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer has had no problem developing NFL talent over the course of his career.
From first-round quarterbacks to top-flight defensive linemen, Meyer has coached some very talented football players. Guys like Alex Smith, Percy Harvin, Joe Haden, Aaron Hernandez and the Pouncey twins all started their paths to the NFL under Meyer's tutelage.
Featured NFL running backs have not been his forte, though.
Enter Carlos Hyde, the 235-pound junior running back from Naples, Fla. Despite his size, Hyde has been stellar running the football in Meyer's spread offense this season.
In eight games this year (he was injured and sat out of the Cal and UAB games), Hyde has rushed for 737 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. He also has 43 receiving yards and a touchdown through the air, which came against Indiana via a shuttle pass from backup quarterback Kenny Guiton.
He appears to be running stronger as the season progresses. In his first three games, Hyde only averaged 53 yards per contest and had just two touchdowns to start the season. Over the course of the last five games, Hyde is averaging 115 rushing yards and has 12 total touchdowns.
As the junior running back continues to surge at Ohio State, this question becomes more appropriate: Is Carlos Hyde the best running back Urban Meyer has ever coached?
Going back to 2001 when Meyer was the coach at Bowling Green, Joe Alls led all running backs on the team with just 553 rushing yards and three touchdowns. A year later, Alls led the running backs again in rushing, piling up 801 yards with four touchdowns on the ground.
At Utah, Brandon Warfield played exceptionally well in Meyer's offense. In 2003, Warfield rushed for 976 yards and 11 touchdowns. Warfield was by far Meyer's most productive running back, averaging 81 yards and just under one touchdown per game.
Marty Johnson and Quinton Ganther split carries at Utah in 2004. Johnson got the bulk of the carries, rushing for 802 yards and 14 touchdowns while Ganther added 654 and two touchdowns in a complimentary role.
During Meyer's six-year stint at Florida, only one running back—Jeff Demps in 2009—rushed for more yards than Hyde currently has in 2012. Demps rushed for 745 yards in 14 games that year, just eight yards more than Hyde's current rushing total from eight games.
From a pure statistical perspective, none of Meyer's Florida running backs produced like Hyde has this year.
Going back to Meyer's Utah and Bowling Green teams, only Brandon Warfield had numbers that compare to Hyde's numbers this season, but again, Warfield accumulated his stats over 12 games compared to Hyde's eight.
It'll be interesting to see how strong Hyde finishes the year, but if he continues running the ball as well as he has recently, he should become Urban Meyer's most productive running back.
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