COLUMBUS – The season-ending knee injury sophomore running back Evan Pryor suffered last week deprived Ohio State of an offensive weapon but the Buckeyes might not have been left entirely without depth behind starter TreVeyon Henderson and No. 2 running back Miyan Williams.
OSU coach Ryan Day had good things to say about freshman running back Dallan Hayden during a press conference Monday. He also said Chip Trayanum, who intended to switch from running back to linebacker this season, has spent some time in the offensive backfield in practice since Pryor’s injury.
“We’ve been very impressed with Dallan. I think he has really come on,” Day said. “He’s been drinking through a fire hose in preseason camp. He’s had ups and downs. But I’ve got to tell you he’s got a lot of talent.
“He’s our third running back right now. If he continues to grow we’re going to trust putting him in the game.”
The 5-10, 195-pound Hayden rushed for more than 2,000 yards as a junior and as a senior at Christian Brothers High School in Memphis, Tenn. He was a 4-star recruit who did not enroll at Ohio State until this summer.
Trayanum, formerly a 4-star recruit from Akron Hoban, signed with Arizona State as a running back and played two seasons for the Sun Devils before transferring to Ohio State. He rushed for 402 yards for ASU in 2021 and 290 yards in 2020.
“We had one day where Chip came over and did some running back and boy, he’s natural. And he’s doing a great job at linebacker as well, so he’ll be a guy that we can use as rain insurance if we needed him to,” Day said. “He’s a talented running back. Been very impressed with the way he’s playing at linebacker as well. But we can also use him in a dual role if needed.”
Some other items from Day’s press conference:
– Receiver Kamryn Babb, who has suffered three torn ACLs, is injured again. Day called it “a setback.” “He had a setback but not a setback that is going to cost him the whole year,” Day said. “He’s going to be out for a little while and we’re hoping to get him back in a couple weeks. We’re going to be smart.”
– Tight ends Cade Stover and Mitch Rossi were the first two names Day mentioned when asked which veteran players had stood out in preseason practice. “I’ve been very impressed with Cade Stover and Mitch Rossi. These are two guys who put their time in and had very productive camps. At tight end you have to do a lot of stuff. You have to block, you have to protect, you have to run routes. There is a lot that is asked of you.”
– Wide receiver Julian Fleming, defensive lineman Taron Vincent and safety Ronnie Hickman also have stood out in preseason practices and scrimmages, Day said. “Julian Fleming has had a really good camp and a really good summer. We’re hoping Taron Vincent can take the next step and solidify some stuff for us inside. He has been a bright spot for sure,” Day said.
— Day said there were three general areas he wanted to see improvement in the preseason and he has seen it. “The three things we wanted to get done were toughness, discipline and skill. I think we got tougher. We practiced really hard, really hard. I think we made some progress in those areas,” he said.
— Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles also answered questions from the media after Day. OSU’s first-year coordinator said the Buckeyes’ defensive players have learned around 75 percent of his system. “We’re up to about 75 percent. I’m very comfortable with where we’re at. We’ve come a long way in terms of installation, farther than I would have expected. The players are very open to learning. They want to be great. I never expected to get to 100 percent. We’ll keep some things in reserve and pull them out as needed as we go through the season,” Knowles said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau