I remember the Buzz when Brandon Saine went to the campus of Ohio State. I remember people comparing him to Reggie Bush. I remember the talk he was going to make playing time for himself even with Chris Wells in the backfield by playing some in the slot or in various formations designed around him.
In his freshman season he racked up over 200 yards with an average YPC of 4.5 on limited carries, but he showed flashes on what he could be. There is a lot to like about a 6'2" 225 pound back who has been clocked a 4.25 in the 40 yard dash, owns the Ohio record in the 100m @ just a shade over 10 seconds, is a national champion in the 60-yard dash, and has proved he will block and he catches well in the slot. There's plenty to be excited about. That is, if he actually plays.
Since his freshman season Brandon Saine has been constantly injured. He played all of last season at far less than 100 percent and saw a decline in his production with a YPC of far less than 3.0. He was seldom seen in the slot and when he was he was not a favored target.
So far entering his third year at Ohio State there is little to be known about Mr. Saine. We know he has the physical gifts, but we've not yet seen them become relevant. That all could change this year.
I was watching some interview footage with Brandon this spring and I saw the following (starting at 5:18 on this video):
It appears that Brandon is not only healthy, but has changed the way he approaches preparation for the game. He's serious about his preparation and that has translated through spring practice.
Coming out of spring Dan Herron is considered by most to be the No. 1 tailback for Ohio State and it is clear that both Dan and Brandon will get opportunities early this season. If one of them shows that he can be successful as an every down tailback and that he gives the Buckeyes their best shot at being effective in the ground game, know that Tressel will make sure that back gets the touches.
I personally like both Herron and Saine. Dan Herron is a smaller back who plays with the style and mindset of a bigger back and I like that. He has a good combo of speed and power but I've not seen him catch the ball well out of the backfield and his blocking can be suspect at times. He also appears to lack the top end speed that Saine provides.
My personal analysis is that Branon Saine provides the best option as an every down back because of his vision and explosiveness in his cuts. When you combine that with his elite top end speed it makes him one of the most dangerous players that Ohio State can field at any given time.
This year Saine has an opportunity to do what he came to do at Ohio State. Many questions linger from last season, but they will be answered quickly this season. At least by September 12th.