The Ohio State University has a deep stable of running backs heading into the 2011 season—but which one will lead the Buckeyes in rushing yards at season's end?
If this question would have been asked eight months ago, the obvious choice would have been Dan Herron, who rushed for 1155 yards in 2010. With Dan Herron suspended for the first five games of the season, the position appears to be open for competition and the Buckeye's have four backs who will all battle for carries during the first five games of the season.
Which ever running back who shows the most promise during the fist five games of the season should be the man who shares the load once Dan Herron returns.
With true freshman quarterback Braxton Miller likely to be the Buckeyes starter come Week one, one can bet that Luke Fickell will utilize his deep and talented crop of running backs.
*Jordan Hall is not on this list due to him being moved to WR
2010 Stats: 141 yards, 0 touchdowns, 5.9yards per carry
2011 Prediction: 250 yards, 2 touchdowns, 5.4 yards per carry
Of the four Ohio State running backs who will see the field most during the 2011 season, I think Carlos Hyde will finish last among them. That's not to say Hyde is not—or does not—have the ability to be a big-time back—I just don't see him beating out the guys in front of him.
Hyde is the biggest running-back on the Ohio State roster, standing 6'0'' with a powerful 240-pound frame. Hyde showed in limited action last year that he can be a load to take down, making him the type of running back defenses don't enjoy having to tackle.
2010: 266 yards, 1 touchdown, 8.3 yards per carry
2011 Prediction: 500 yards, 4 touchdowns, 6 yards per carry
Jaamal Berry came to Ohio State in 2009 as one of the highest rated running backs in the country, and he finally showed flashes of why in 2010. Berry's 67-yard touchdown run against Eastern Michigan showcased his elite mix of speed and elusiveness that Buckeye fans are hoping to see more of in 2011.
Look for Berry to play the role of a change-of-pace back in 2011—being the lightning to Roderick Smith's thunder through the first five games of the season. Herron's return will undoubtedly cut into Jaamal Berry's carries, but Berry is to much of a home-run threat not to receive carries every game.
2010 Stats: 1115 yards, 16 touchdowns, 5.3 yards per carry
2011 Prediction: 675 yards, 9 touchdowns, 5.5 yards per carry
Dan "Boom" Herron will have to watch from the sidelines for the first five games of the season, which is unfortunate because Boom got better and better every week last season.
Breaking down last season's numbers, Boom really failed to impress that much early on in the year, in fact Herron failed to reach 100 yards in any of his first five games. Herron earned his Buckeye leaves during conference play, and I anticipate Boom doing just that again in 2011.
2010 Stats: N/A (Red Shirted)
2011 Prediction: 1,200 yards, 9 touchdowns, 4.5 yards per carry
Roderick Smith possesses that rare breed of size and speed that doesn't come around to often, but he's got it—and I fully expect him to be Ohio State's leading rusher by season's end.
Smith stands 6'3'', 225 pounds and has already been compared to past Ohio State great Beanie Wells, but Roderick Smith will create his own legacy at Ohio State and it will start Week 1 against Akron.
Look for Roderick Smith and Jaamal Berry to split carries the first couple games of the season with Smith receiving more carries as the weeks go by.
Even when Dan Herron returns, I think Smith will at the very least receive a 50/50 split of the running load.