The Next Beanie

By David Sokol on August 7, 2012 at 3:00p
One of Beanie's staples: The Hop

History and tradition are not taken lightly at Ohio State.

Over the program's storied past, the Buckeyes' starting running back has been among the most coveted and immortalized positions on the team.

Just take a look at the northern end zone of Ohio Stadium. Seven retired numbers perpetually grace the divide between the mid-level B-deck and the upper-level C-deck. If you take a closer look at the names, six of those honored have played running back at Ohio State.

Chic Harley brought Ohio State to national glory in the 1910s carrying the ball, while Les Horvath (also played QB), Howard Cassady, Vic Janowicz, Archie Griffin, and Eddie George all won Heisman trophies doing the same. The program's historic offensive focal point is clear: power running, three yards and a cloud of dust, and running through, not around, the line of scrimmage.

In more recent times, Chris "Beanie" Wells, whose 24th birthday happens to be today, solidified himself as that style of running back.

Although Beanie will probably never have his name enshrined permanently at Ohio Stadium, he may have been the last running back to be the offense's focal point for years to come.

Historically, Ohio State's coaching staffs have relied heavily on power running backs to carry the offense down the field. However, with Urban Meyer and the new staff, things are definitely going to change, meaning Beanie could be the last great back for the foreseeable future as the Urban spread focuses on smaller running backs and lighter carry loads.

The Career

Much like the running backs who preceded him at Ohio State, Beanie was a workhorse during his time at Ohio State.

A former top recruit in the nation and consensus 5-star running back from Garfield High in Akron, Beanie fulfilled his duties as a Buckeye power back, failing to ever carry the ball less than 100 times during his three-year tenure.

As a freshman, slotted behind then-senior Antonio Pittman on the depth chart, Beanie carried the ball 104 times for 576 yards and seven touchdowns. Of those seven touchdowns, the one that really stood out the most will forever be ingrained in our minds. Obviously, the run from mid-field vs. second-ranked Michigan, in the #1 vs. #2 game, allowed Beanie to emerge as the feature back that he was bound to become, only he was able to become that back earlier than expected.

As a sophomore, he showed the world why he was the nation's top recruit. Beanie carried the ball 274 times. That's right, 274 times (over 20 times per game) for 1,609 yards and 15 scores, which really demonstrated Coach Jim Tressel's desire to pound the ball up the middle, just as Woody Hayes had established. Beanie was the perfect running back for the offense and helped lead Ohio State back to the BCS National Title for the second straight year.

Ohio State takes their running backs seriously

After his sophomore season, Beanie was added to the shortlist for the 2008 Heisman Trophy, due to his stellar 2007 performance.

However, the season would be a glimpse into how his professional career has played out to this point.

In the first game of his junior season, Beanie injured his toe en route to a 43-0 Ohio State victory.

The injury would force him to sit out the next two games where Ohio State narrowly escaped Ohio University and a 35-3 loss to Southern Cal, arguably the biggest regular season game in the last decade, in Los Angeles. Of course that USC team was filled with studs such as Brian Cushing, Clay Mathews, Rey Maualuga, Taylor Mays, and Mark Sanchez, just to name a few, but Beanie sitting out of the game allowed it to reach a lopsided embarrassment.

Beanie did return post-USC to accumulate 1,197 total rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 207 carries during an injury-plagued season, still great statistics for any college back.

As the Arizona Cardinals first round pick in 2009 and an injury-filled campaign in his first two seasons, Beanie accumulated 1,047 and 10 touchdowns in the 2011 campaign, the best of his professional career. However, injuries (once again) sidelined Beanie throughout the season, disallowing him from gaining even more yards.

He has already started the 2012 season from the sideline, missing the first preseason game of the year. He was just taken off the PUP list today and can resume playing.

Injuries aside, Beanie can definitely be included on the very long list of successful Ohio State running backs.

No Need for Beanie-Types?

In Tressel's remaining tenure at Ohio State, pounding the ball on the ground continued to be the theme.

His successor, Dan "Boom" Herron, was an extremely successful running back at Ohio State, carrying the ball over 100 times in three seasons and over 200 times in one of those seasons.

With Coach Meyer taking over, the backfield will completely change.

In Meyer's tenure at Florida, only twice did a running back have more than 100 carries (DeShawn Wynn in '06 and Kestahn Moore in '07). That's right, 100 carries. I just mentioned that Beanie carried the ball 274 times one season.

In reality, the need for a big powerful back to carry the ball all game is just not there in the Meyer offense. Instead of just one power back getting the call 25 times or so per game, Meyer uses all different types of offensive weapons to carry the rock, such as Percy Harvin, Tim Tebow, Jeff Demps, and Brandon James, leaving man to believe we have seen the end of a long era of big, bruising backs tearing apart defenses at Ohio State.

I say "many believe" because, quite frankly, Meyer has never had a back like Beanie Wells on his rosters at Florida, Utah, or Bowling Green. When approached this spring about the differences in using running backs in his sytem compared to traditional OSU rushers, the new head coach stated that he had always wanted a back he could lean on and now that he is in Columbus, that is something he could potentially work into his offense.

While the expectation is that all-purpose backs cut in the mold of 2013 recruit Ezekiel Elliott will be the type of players targeted by Meyer, there may indeed be room for the Bri'onte Dunn's of the world. Talents like the freshman back from Canton that the new staff is inheriting will have a large role in the Buckeye offense moving forward, potentially making the OSU spread attack more lethal than even Meyer's national championship units we saw at Florida.

So, does it end here with the great tradition of running backs? Will the next series of retired numbers be dual-threat quarterbacks and multi-purpose athletes or will Meyer adapt to the culture in Columbus and find a way to work in "the next Beanie Wells" into his offensive success? Only time will tell.

Like Father, Like Son

I just had to throw in a few lines about Beanie's son, Christin. Although he is just a toddler, he's already in training to be the next Buckeye back.

If anyone attended the Ohio State vs. Michigan State basketball game at the Schott this past season (yes, the one we lost at home), you'll recall them introducing Beanie Wells at the half accompanied by his son.

Will Christin Wells take after his father?

Christin was beyond excited by the attention and while most kids shy away from the pressure of being in the spotlight, he thrived. Christin was running (fast, may I add) after Brutus, giving people high fives, and waving to the crowd. He's definitely ready to be "that" back and follow in his father's footsteps and a true Buckeye.

Although it remains unforeseen that we have another Beanie-type back in the near future, here's to hoping the next one shares the same genes and the same last name. We only have to wait about 15 more seasons for the to come true.

Once again, Happy Birthday to Beanie. We hope to see Christin wearing number 28 for the Buckeyes.


Comments Show All Comments

Ethos's picture

Pretty unrelated, but didn't Smith end the retired jerseys?  I feel like I read that somewhere....maybe that was basketball I don't remember now.

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

LouGroza's picture

Anyone know if Christin has a commitable offer or is planning a visit anytime soon?

OSUBias's picture

LSU offered all of Beanie's future children shortly after the stiff arm of death

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

RBuck's picture

There will never be a stiff arm like Beanie's in the 'Shoe ever again.

Long live the southend.

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

TP's was pretty strong.

Colin's picture

Beanie was Pryor's stiff arm coach.

45buckshot's picture

lol true, dat ;)
no, Beanie had the stiff arm of champions. he could run past you, jump over you, or, barring that, stiff arm you to the ground. he was a total package :)
and we may never see his like again :(

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
—G.K. Chesterton

onetwentyeight's picture

Not a real big fan of this type of "Urbz Regime = death of the traditional power Running game" mentality. Last time I checked, the greatest power runner in CFB the past decade played for Urban Meyer. Sure, he was (NOMINALLY) a "QB", but positional titles are increasingly meaningless in football (what is a percy harvin? or a Gronk/jimmy graham? Look at Ol Ball Coach talk of playing Clowney at LB, etc). 
If there is an elite power runner on the roster, Urban will have him run through the tackles. His offense isnt some fancy pansy Rich Rod spread thats populated by a bunch of undersized slaton/white types. Remember all those games when they ran Tebow to death up the middle? 

Squirrel Master's picture

He still threw for 261 yards with all that. I never have been a fan but I do think he can be a QB in the NFL. He still needs to get better though. 
I can easily see that with Braxton and even though he still needs to get better, I think he is already ahead of Tebow. We'll see. I wouldn't be surprised if Urban lets a couple guys go for records just to prove points and win individual trophies! 
Braxton for Sophomore Heisman!

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

smith5568's picture

Thank you. Nailed it. 

onetwentyeight's picture

I guess I just take issue with the "In reality, the need for a big powerful back to carry the ball all game is just not there in the Meyer offense." idea that Meyer is somehow adverse to running the ball up the gut "all game" with one big "powerful back". 
Tebow ran the ball over 200 times in 2 seasons, and 176 times in another. That was the personnel Meyer had at his disposal and he USED IT in a power running MANNER, a lot.

BrewstersMillions's picture

Meyer's offense is run heavy. You run with who you have. The idea is to get dudes in space. If that means letting a 235 pound guy get into space that is occupied by smaller dudes, then by all means have it it. Quite frankly I don't care how he does it at this point.

OSUBias's picture

Urbs has no history of recruiting or using a big, Wells type RB. Yes he ran Tebow in between the tackles. But Tebow is not a Wells, because Tebow is a QB. The article wasn't saying we're never going to have a power running game. It just said traditional. That's two tight end, I formation, follow the fullback. Urbs won't do that, at least not often. Not often like 15-20 carries a game like Wells.
So the question of will we see another Wells is probably answered with a "no". Maybe we'll see another Tebow type QB who runs power between the tackles. But Urbs is always going to shuttle guys in all over the field, so he's really not going to have a 15-20 carry RB unless they seriously change their offensive strategy.

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

David Sokol's picture


Urban will definitely use what he has with Hyde, Dunn, etc. but I don't think we'll be recruiting any 6'2/235 brusing backs down the line.

Poe McKnoe's picture

I'd argue that this is exactly what Urban Meyer has been missing in the running game.  Hopefully they can have success this year.  If they do, I expect that body type to be recruited in the future.

45buckshot's picture

+1 this is the year. Hyde or Smith or Dunn has to do something this year to show Meyer what's possible. if one of them has a break-out year, then at least a year where there's a 200+ lb back in Ohio (like Wells, or Dunn) UM3 will recruit him. 
but if none of those guys goes anything, and Hall comes back and has a great year, Dunn will be the last big back Meyer ever signs. 

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
—G.K. Chesterton

smith5568's picture

I have to disagree. I think Urban will definitely recruit these types of backs. I think he will actually look for these large bruising backs, as long as they have breakaway speed like Beanie. Urban's offense is not about having a QB who can carry the load, it is about having someone who can carry the load.
I believe that Urban would rather have a QB who doesn't carry the load like Tebow did. Instead he would prefer a large bruising back who has speed to carry the load, protecting the decision maker of his offense, the QB. 

schooey's picture

I hope that he will be recruiting big bruising backs. They may not get as many carries as past OSU bruisers but I think one will be always be incorporated if available. As stated above, Meyer never really had a bruiser before Tebow. I hope that was just circumstancial and that he will add it to his game plan. 

hodge's picture

Just because you're the QB doesn't necessarily mean that you're not your team's go-to rusher.  Tebow served both purposes at UF: a smart quarterback who doubled as an up-the-gut power runner.  Same with Denard Robinson (especially under Richrod) at UM and even our very own Les Horvath, who I believe won the Heisman as a single-wing QB.  
I don't think his recruitment of Bri'onte Dunn was mere damage-control: he didn't want the kid to go to UM because he genuinely wanted him on the team (I recall him even telling Dunn, "I've always dreamed of having an RB like you").  The fact of the matter is that his system isn't good for big, powerful guys looking to be "feature backs".  Meyer's system won't offer that kind of exposure, thereby lowering the amount of elite big backs who want to play in his offense.

OSUBias's picture

I'm not saying that Tebow wasn't their #1 option for running the ball. I was just pointing out that when we're talking about "will there be another Beanie Wells?" we're talking about a 6'2" 240 lb power RB who grinds teams down over the course of the game. And for all of the things Tim Tebow was, he was not a RB. They snapped it to him every play at the QB position; he didn't take the handoff from someone else.
I agree on your second point. I don't think it's a question of Urban not wanting that type of player. He sort of deals himself out of the hand by the style of offense he runs. Maybe this year he uses Hyde and Dunn and Smith differently enough to show he can adapt the spread to a big bruising back like he adapted it to Tebow. But the fact that I just suggested 3 options to be that guy means he'll be spreading the carries out, automatically making none of the 3 guys "the next Beanie Wells".

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

hodge's picture

Hyde will be the closest thing this season, barring some cataclysmic event (good or bad) that thrusts Dunn or Smith into the role.  Meyer's said he'll get 15, which is nothing like Tebow, but it's still more constant touches than most RBs in his system have recieved.  I see this "Hyde Back" becoming a feature of Meyer's B1G-tested offenses, a role that Dunn will fill into nicely.  

OSUBias's picture

Agreed. I'm all for Hyde getting more so Braxton gets less and stays healthy. Hyde's got the body for 15-20 a game. Unless he's on the edge and avoiding contact, 10-15 a game for Braxton scares me a little bit, with his injury history.

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

sir rickithda3rd's picture

theres only one tim tebow just like theres only one john simon... meyer would make full use of a beanie wells in his own way.... i just have to much respect for ufm to think he wouldnt use someone of other worldly talents to their potential

mark may wins douchebag of the year... again

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

Being an Arizona Cardinals fan (yes, we do exist), I was ecstatic that the Cardinals drafted Wells. He is their best back regardless of injuries and hopefully will be their feature back for years to come. I wear my #28 tOSU jersey and #26 Cardinals jerseys with pride out here in the desert....

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

immort9888's picture

Couldn't agree more, 128.  Also, don't forget about Josh Harris at QB back in the day under Coach Meyer.  He was a huge running QB with over 20+ rushing TDs.  
Additionally, Meyer has had big backs who were successful in the past.  Marty Johnson, although not 1000 yard season, was a big RB with a large impact back in 2004 at Utah.
I don't think Coach Meyer "shies" away from good big running backs or quarterbacks.

rmichael.smith's picture

I think its safe to say what Coach Meyer said: he'll use the talent he has & get the playmakers the ball.  I also think its safe to anticipate the team will keep scoring regardless of the score.  If that creates hurt feelings, they might as well get used to it. 
There may be times, though, when we really need to keep the other offense off the field or to run down the clock; you must have a great ball carrier for that.  Urban can learn from Tressel.


ShadyBuckeye's picture

i may be confused but how did Urban and his staff inherit Bri'onte Dunn? That was Urbans recruiting class and he convinced him to remain committed. Anyways I dont really care what type of running back we have, I just want to win a national championship... if we do that then it means we have great players and we will all fall in love withevery Buckeye. I for one dont believe it at all, I think we will recruit big backs, they might just have to be from Ohio (Like Bri'onte) though because a kid from texas probly wont want to come here and not get his 274 carries.

buckeye76BHop's picture

Beanie was such a stud...hope he can get those injuries under control in NFL.  Still love watching him run over ppl.  
Urban won't be going after a big back like Beanie in the next few years bc we already have em.  I could have seen UFM passing on Beanie if he was the coach in 2006...may be.  Would he have taken him if we didn't have a scholarship crunch like the next 3 years...I'd say YES without a doubt.  UFM isn't just going to pass on an in state 5 star STUD RB that had a 6'1 228 frame with a 4.5 a "SR in HS".  I'm sorry folks, but just bc he runs the spread doesn't mean he's not going to get a good big fast back (he's not stupid...he wouldn't want to give another team a chance to get him).  Green would have been a Buckeye if it wasn't for limited #'s in 2013 class.  Need was elsewhere and now lets just hope Green doesn't go tTUN...that could suck...

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

Riggins's picture

I am not so quick to discount the era of big Ohio State backs.  I think we're done recruiting slow RBs, but if the big guy can move (like Beanie could) then sign him up. Urban's spread is still based on power football.  Since when is a big back ineffective in the open field?  I remember seeing some epic stiffarms against poor DBs from Beanie.
I think he could've been lethal in Urban's offense in 1-on-1 scenarios.  So many times, Beanie got caught up in the dogpile of 5 OL, 4DL, a FB, and 1-2 LBs with nowhere to go and basically got tackled where he stood.   Get him in a spot where he is going downhill against a LB or S and I like his chances.
I just don't understand why some people think a big, powerful RB can't run an inside/outside zone, or veer.  Tress ran similar stuff from time to time.  He just didn't get as creative with motions, counters and the like as Meyer does.  That's another reason Meyer is going to elevate the offense. Constraint plays.  And something other than a shallow effin' bubble screen!
Obviously you're not going to run speed options with a guy like Beanie.
I think the biggest change on offense will not be the type of RB we recruit, but the type of TE and WR we recruit.  I think TEs like Ballard, and Fraegel are gone. Big, long-striding WRs like Michael Jenkins are gone. 

Bucksnut13's picture

Why the hell do you guys even like power backs? Their not as exciting. Plus with one power back he sometimes gets worn down over the course of a game. With three speedy and quick backs rotating in and out (harvin, demps, rainey) they in fact run as hard as they can every play and make people miss as well as occasionally run over defenders. I am 100% for the small shifty backs.

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog

schooey's picture

I like the physical wear and tear big backs can put on a defense. Also, when the weather is bad for cutting speed. And slow drives that keep the defense off the field. 

Squirrel Master's picture

JT Barrett is very Tebowesque with his running style. He runs very north south and makes the read very quickly. 
I don't think the power back will disappear. I see Urban taking his zone read with the slot back, combine the OSU B1G power back and I say throws in what he grabs from Bill Belichick with the 2 TEs. He has the personnel to do it all now and it will get even better once Marshall, Ezekiel and Jacobs gets in to join Hyde, Dunn and Ball. 

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

HighBallAce's picture

Isn't tOSU still recruiting Derrick Green? He's a pretty big back! That should tell you that Urban isn't throwing in the towl on big backs and power running. Besides that, this is B1G country! There will have to come a time in games when it's snowing or too slick because of the weather to be throwing the ball around like they did at Florida.

David Sokol's picture

I believe the OSU staff let Green know they are moving in a different direction.

ghalephoto's picture

Then why did Meyer go heavy after Dunn?  He is a bigger back.

thorvath22's picture

In NCAA 13 I have two thousand yard backs in Miller and Hyde and I run an offfense more I form heavy with Meyer's Heavy and Flex shotgun formation zone reads....

I know this is irrelevant but it is in line with the scheme Meyer displayed in the spring game showing a zone read with the power back diving up the middle and the faster qb running outside the invert that with the backs running outside the tackles and qb running up the nose and you have the offense at Florida with Tebow under center. That's the beauty of Meyers Flex and Heavy shotgun forms, it can service either qb or rb style...the only requirement is the qb must be somewhat a running threat.

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Maybe it's just me, but I see a little of Beanie in Hyde.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Dougger's picture

At freshmen orientation, beanie was sitting one row and two seats over from me and my best friend. We gawked at him wearing this sleeveless shirt, his arms were bigger than our heads!! That run agains UM in '06 has to be one of the best runs in history. Amazing to see live, the shoe was so loud. 
Carlos Hyde: "it's either a yes or a no" ... I'll go with yes

I like football