The unfortunate rumors of Carlos Hyde’s imminent departure from The Ohio State University and it’s football program are now official. Hyde has been dismissed from the team and will not contribute to their chase for the 2013 National Championship.
With the excitement of training camp and the new season approaching, the news comes at a difficult time for the Buckeyes.
Hyde, just this past week, was placed on the Doak Walker Award watch list for the best rusher in the nation. That was certainly a possibility until Hyde made a decision he may often regret.
While the Hyde dismissal is news that no one outside of Ann Arbor wanted to hear, the Ohio State program has nowhere to look but forward and fortunately, they have options.
As of right now, the Buckeyes depth chart at halfback will look as follows:
The list is deep and extensive, however, it’s hard to fill the role that Hyde played. A tremendously quick and athletic runner with the build of a fullback, Hyde was almost one of a kind. He had experience in big games and big situations, often coming through when needed the most.
That being said, there are other ways to go.
Super-senior Jordan Hall had a very disappointing 2012 campaign in which he only played in a couple of games thanks to a freak offseason cut on his foot and a knee injury against Michigan State.
When Hall was in, however, he was more than effective. In the only true game he played for the Buckeyes in 2012, he rushed for 105 yards on 17 carries, averaging 6.2 per attempt.
After Hall’s departure against the Spartans, he was granted a medical redshirt and deemed eligible for the 2013 season.
In hindsight, that very grant could be the biggest moment of the entire 2013 season.
We all know what a rusher Hall can be and when given the reigns in Urban’s offense, the results could be much better than we’d ever have imagined.
However, Hall’s backup, Rod Smith, could be.
Smith has a much more Hyde-like build, standing at 6-3, 240 pounds, but has underachieved in his time with the Buckeyes. Urban has tested the big back as a featured runner, yet Smith has yet to live up to the potential that followed him to campus.
If the Buckeyes running backs are going to piecemeal together the hole that Hyde leaves wide open, Rod Smith must fill the biggest section of the gap.
With Hall and Smith taking the majority of Hyde’s carries, young guns are going to be thrown in the spotlight much quicker than imagined.
Bri’onte Dunn, the sophomore tailback, will be hogging that spotlight and deservedly so.
Dunn came to Ohio State as a four-star prospect and the eleventh ranked running back in the nation. HIs first year with the Buckeyes proved him nothing less than a playmaker.
While putting together some less-than-stellar performances in his first two outings against Miami (OH) and UCF, Dunn showed his colors against Illinois. On thirteen carries, Dunn produced 73 yards and a touchdown while helping the Buckeyes to a 52-22 drubbing of the Illini.
Of course, Dunn figured to be buried beneath Hyde, Hall, and Smith this season, but will certainly get his chance to shine in 2013.
Another young difference maker could come in the form of freshman Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott has yet to show anything he can do at the collegiate level, but his production in high school was off-the-charts.
In May, Elliott won the State Championship in the 100m, the 200m, the 110m hurdles, AND the 300m hurdles. If you’re scoring at home, that’s four gold medals for the young man.
Elliott is certainly fast, but we have yet to see whether or not that speed will translate to the collegiate levels. There are certainly examples of speedsters making it in the NCAA ranks, but there are examples of the contrary as well.
Finally, there are two more guys that could make a miraculous impact for the Buckeyes: Warren Ball and Dontre Wilson.
Ball is a Hyde-like bruiser himself, standing at 6’1 228 pounds, and has yet to make effective use of any playing time.
Wilson, on the other hand, has yet to have the chance to make an impact. He’s supposedly an incredibly gifted back, suited for all facets of the game.
At 5’10, 174, Wilson was ranked as the number five running back in the nation in 2013 and the 100th best player in the nation. While Wilson may not see the field as a back, he could surely make an impact on special teams or even as the “pivot”- the position that Percy Harvin popularized in Urban’s spread system.
Between Hall, Smith, Dunn, Elliott, Ball, and Wilson, the Buckeye backs have a tall task at hand.
Carlos Hyde was set to have a legendary year for the Buckeyes and lead the Buckeyes rushing attack to the National Championship game.
Instead, Hyde is no longer a Buckeye and the Ohio State offense is left searching for answers.
Could the veteran Jordan Hall take the reigns, live up to his potential, and make the most of his second-chance senior year?
Could Rod Smith finally live up to his potential and become the bruising back that Urban Meyer has visualized?
Could Bri’onte Dunn, with more carries, show us more of his incredible upside?
Could Ezekiel Elliott take his high school speed and take it to the collegiate level, all the while helping the Buckeye backs in his first season?
Could Warren Ball take an incredible leap and surprise Buckeye fans all over the nation?
Could Dontre Wilson make the impact we all expect him to make a couple of years early?
These are the questions all Buckeye fans are asking. Hopefully, they are answered in our favor.