Ohio State will go into 2013 with one of the best stable of running backs in the country. Each one possesses a different threat to defenses.
There’s speed, power and elusiveness that each bring to the table.
Every running back who touched the ball in 2012 is expected to return, and you can’t forget who’s coming in this year’s recruiting class. Let’s take a look at every back for the Buckeyes who will be part of a lethal ground attack in 2013.
Hyde proved himself as the No. 1 running back after a strong 2012 season. When Urban Meyer talked about having an angry team, Hyde was one who took that message to heart. After missing two games early in the year, Hyde returned with a vengeance and was unstoppable when he got his pads going north and south.
By the end of the season, the offense’s success ran through Hyde as he averaged more than six yards per carry over the last three games. With four out of five offensive linemen returning in 2013, Hyde will be the battering ram for the Ohio State offense.
Hall presents a different threat as he’s a smaller, shiftier running back that could even be used in the slot. Hall was the top running back going into last season, but injuries kept him on the sidelines for all but two and a half games.
The News-Herald reported that Hall would take a redshirt season and return in 2013 as a redshirt senior. Though it may not seem like it, it’s huge to have a guy like Jordan Hall return for another year. Being in his fifth year in the program, Hall will provide instant leadership on and off the field. In 2012, he played in two full games, racking up 223 total yards. There are many ways Hall can be used if he stays healthy enough to be on the field this upcoming season.
The undeniable, most interesting running back on the team definitely goes to Rod Smith. Some around Buckeye Nation think Smith is the most talented back on the team, and rightfully so.
Smith gained playing time as the season went on and was a threat to take it the distance every time he touched the ball. Mostly used as a kick returner, Smith has all the attributes at 6’3", 228 pounds.
Early in his career he suffered from fumblitis which has limited his playing time his first two years on campus. Though a couple fumbles hurt Smith’s stock late in the year, the light finally seems to be going on as the sky is the limit for No. 2. Hold onto the ball, and Rod Smith will become a household name in every home in America.
With a loaded backfield, it’s hard for the younger guys to step in and get playing time. However, Dunn, who was a true freshman last season, earned solid playing time in his first year as a Buckeye with 133 yards on 25 carries and two touchdowns for the season. Dunn was also used as a kick returner.
Meyer is high on Dunn, as he was the first player he called when he took the job in December 2011 according to SI's Steve Wiltfong. A former Scout.com 5-Star running back, Dunn will continue to work his way up the ladder for playing time as he looks to be slowly developing into the same type of player Hyde is.
Warren Ball and Ezekiel Elliot
The two newcomers for the 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes are Warren Ball and current class of 2013 commit Ezekiel Elliott. Yes, yes I know Warren Ball is not an incoming freshman, but Ball missed the entire season with a foot injury as he took a medical redshirt. Ball was an All-State running back in high school and will be looking to make a name for himself once spring practice starts up.
That leaves us with Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott is a current commit for the Buckeyes and could gain playing time when the season rolls around. Elliott is the type of running back Urban Meyer is looking for in his spread offense. With a reported 40 time of 4.42 by ESPN.com, look for the back to make a splash whether it comes on offense or special teams.
When it comes to running backs, a team can never have enough. These are some of your best playmakers on the field. With a plethora of talent at this position, the Ohio State offense has the potential to flourish in their second year under Urban Meyer. Oh, and it’s never a bad thing when you have a quarterback like Braxton Miller running the show.