The Stable: Jordan Hall's Medical Redshirt Means More Weapons for Urban Meyer and Ohio State in 2013

By Kyle Rowland on January 11, 2013 at 10:00a

When it comes to running backs, Ohio State knows a thing or two about the backfield. Names like Archie Griffin, Eddie George, Hop Cassady, Keith Byars and Maurice Clarett have occupied the hallowed space behind the quarterback, galloping for chunks of yardage and becoming Buckeye legends in the process.

Jordan Hall will get a do-over for his senior year.

In 2013, Carlos Hyde hopes to find his place among those familiar names. But he’ll do so taking handoffs beside Braxton Miller in a power-spread offense, not to the rear in a traditional I-formation that was the engine behind three yards and a cloud of dust. Hyde’s carries also won’t be his alone.

Ohio State’s backfield will rival a Kentucky Derby field. Along with Hyde, the Buckeyes welcome back Jordan Hall, Rod Smith and Bri’onte Dunn. Redshirt freshman Warren Ball and true freshman Ezekiel Elliott round out the crowded stable.

During Ohio State’s memorable march to 12-0, Hyde, Smith and Dunn developed into reliable backs for the Buckeyes. Someone that didn’t have that luxury was Hall, whose thought-to-be senior season included multiple mishaps.

First came an unfortunate incident in June, when the tailback stepped on a piece of glass, severely damaging a tendon in his foot. Expected to be a key contributor to the Buckeyes’ new up-tempo offense, Hall’s injury left head coach Urban Meyer without a versatile run-pass threat. Hall returned for three games – California, UAB and Michigan State – but went down again against the Spartans. This time it was a season-ending PCL tear in his right knee.

“You just hate to see that because it’s a kid who has worked his tail off, one of the hardest-working guys we had in the offseason,” Meyer said.

Hall did receive a medical redshirt from the NCAA to continue his career, something Ohio State has had recent success with. Ross Homan and CJ Barnett each received an extra year and went on to play well. That means another offseason of hard work will exists for Hall. But it’s something he is very thankful for.

He finished last season with 218 yards on 40 carries, an average of 5.5 yards per carry. He also caught three passes for 31 yards. When Hall went down, Meyer was on the verge of expanding the Ohio State offense and featuring Hall and Hyde in the backfield together.

“Why wouldn’t they play together when you have two great running backs on the field with completely different running styles being able to go all over the field,” said now ex-wide receiver Jake Stoneburner. 

Current Chairman of the Stable, Carlos Hyde.

That’s not all Meyer could pull out of hat for 2013. There may be hints here and there of an NFL offense. It won’t be the pro-style set that most people are used to, however. It will be tweaks and variations of Meyer’s own spread attack.

With RGIII, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton breaking down the barrier that long said mobile quarterbacks couldn’t succeed in the NFL, more and more head coaches at the professional level are willing to blend in some elements of the spread offense that has thrived in college football for a decade.

Meyer, a workaholic to the core, doesn’t watch a great deal of NFL games because Sundays are generally spent in the cavernous Woody Hayes Athletic Center reviewing the previous day’s game and looking forward to the next opponent. But with no postseason to gear up for, Meyer has seen snippets of NFL action. And what’s he’s viewed has resonated.

“I saw some highlights that looked exactly like the stuff we run,” said Meyer, on a recent edition of The Dan Patrick Show. “It’s phenomenal. It’s pure spread offense. That means you’re reading one defender and the quarterback is, in essence, a ball-carrier if the defender reacts a certain way.”

He even went one step further, saying what San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh does with the 49ers is something he’s never seen before. Come August, though, you’ll be able to set your eyes on it in Ohio Stadium.

“I can assure you we’re going to do it next year,” Meyer said.

If there’s an NFL team Ohio State resembles, it is the 49ers. Both teams have mobile quarterbacks, but it doesn’t mean running backs become obsolete. Actually, it has been the opposite. Carlos Hyde rushed for 970 yards and 16 touchdowns last season, while San Francisco’s Frank Gore amassed 1,214 yards and eight rushing touchdowns.

When both quarterback and running back bring speed, power and elusiveness on the field, it provides the offense with game-changing skills. Most coaches and players would agree that someone should not lose their starting job due to an injury. But in the case of Hall, his replacement, Hyde, clearly separated himself in the Ohio State running back derby.

The previous year a similar scenario played out at running back. Despite solid numbers, Hyde was the odd man out. He made sure that wouldn’t be the case in 2012, running with a purpose every time he touched the ball. In October and November, he became a reliable cog in the Buckeyes’ grind-it-out offense.

Rod Smith gives coaches a unique skillset to work with.

“He is one of the most improved players on the team in all areas, just the way he handles himself like a grown man now,” Meyer said. “I have a lot of respect for Carlos, and it was not given, it was earned, the way he has handled his business.”

When you next see Hall and Smith on the field, they’ll be donning the Nos. 2 and 7. But it won’t be in the usual capacity. It will be Hall wearing No. 2 and Smith wearing 7. The offseason change could lead to a breakout for each player. Bradley Roby became a second-team All-American after the switch to No. 1, and LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have reached rarefied air in the years after number changes.

Hall gives Meyer that shifty runner he so coveted during his first season at Ohio State. The receiving corps still isn’t what the head coach envisioned. Hall can line up in the slot to give the offense an added dimension, as well as add to Miller’s offensive threats. Hall also has been in the program for five seasons and was a captain on last year’s undefeated squad.

“It really adds to the versatility of what we can do, both personnel-wise and formation-wise,” running backs coach Stan Drayton said. “It’s a very integral part. He’s so versatile. He’s a physical ball-carrier and he’s got great hands. He’s a very smart football player.”

An addition to the team that features some of the same on-field characteristics as Hall is Elliott. The true freshman out of Missouri will immediately become one of the top athletes on the entire roster. He’s reportedly been clocked at a blazing 4.2 in the 40, creating opportunities to appear on special teams if game time doesn’t materialize. But his sure hands, combined with blazing speed, make Elliott a candidate to crack the rotation with a role as a slot receiver who presents the defense with a mismatch. If he gets the edge or any space, look out.

Even as a freshman, Elliott could be the top playmaker Ohio State has in 2013. His talent will be untapped with the potential to flourish, being an unlimited mystery so to speak.

Dunn will have to be patient.

The emergence of another freshman gives Elliott hope for this fall. It may have been limited playing time, but Dunn still made an impact in the backfield. In fall camp, he factored into the equation when the second-string competition was ongoing. He played in the first two games of the season, but didn’t appear again until November. He made it worthwhile, though, running for 73 yards against Illinois and earning Big Ten freshman of the week honors.

Dunn was the first player that Meyer called when he took the Ohio State job, so he’s clearly viewed favorably in his coach’s eyes. He is still a year away, though, from being a featured back. In the mean time, Dunn could do damage as a kick returner.

In terms of redemption, Smith has done pretty well for himself. At one time battling what appeared to be an incurable form of fumble-itis, he has since fought off the demons and given Meyer and Drayton another battering ram.

Smith’s 6.7 yards per carry were more than any other Ohio State back in 2012. He possess a unique blend of size and speed that leads some to believe Smith has more upside than any running back currently on the roster. His 6-foot-3, 230-pound frame should see increased carries in the coming season.

“We’ve always been a power, inside zone offense, no matter where we’ve been,” Drayton said. “Just at Florida, we were doing it with guys who were 185-to-190 pounds. We’ve always been an offense that is going to run A-gap power with an attitude and tight zone with an attitude.” 

The man who missed all of 2012 was Ball after he suffered a season-ending foot injury. He was likely headed toward a redshirt season anyway. With such a crowded mass of bodies in the Ohio State backfield, it’s hard to envision Ball making much of an impact in 2013.

Life in the Big Ten is unpredictable, though. Injuries are inevitable, and as the calendar flips to the cold months, a stable of runners is often called upon to help close out games. Next season, Ohio State plays three of its final four games on the road, making the rugged Big Ten even tougher.

Year 1 of the Meyer era will forever show an unblemished record. That doesn’t mean the season featured perfection, however. Ohio State wasn’t a finished product on either side of the ball, and Meyer will tell you point blank that the offense was not nearly where he wants it to reside.

“At Ohio State, you should walk off the field going, ‘Wow! Who are those two guys,’” Meyer said. “I still today haven’t done that.”


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Buckeyes125's picture

This was a great read!

Rapping Bum's picture

Wonder what this means for Warren Ball, special teams most likely.

Help is on the way.

Unky Buck's picture

Not that this will happen or is any indication of what may happen by any means, but going into my second season on NCAA 13, it had Warren Ball transferring because of playing time. Like I said, it's obviously no indication of what's happening, but this could be a very real possibility when looking at the depth chart of the team.

Rock over London; Rock on Chicago. Timex: It takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

beserkr29's picture

All I've seen (which is admittedly not that much) indicates that Zeke is in the 4.4 range.  If he's legitimately a 4.2 guy, then Urban got an incredible steal.  With so many running backs in the fold, it's hard to imagine they'll all stay.  I certainly hope so, since I've got high hopes for Rod Smith and Bri'onte, but I don't know how patient they'll be to be able to tote the rock with such a logjam.  I'm hoping they all stick around.  As it is, Ohio State's pretty well set for the foreseeable future at running back.  WRs can be improved upon a bit, but the offense is starting to really take shape.  OL is where the Buckeyes are thinnest, but it's hard to imagine Urban not making every effort to fix that.  All in all, I think we're going to see quite a lot of running with our offense.  If Braxton hits for over 300 yards passing in more than a game or two during next season, I'll be quite shocked.  Not because he isn't capable, but the Buckeyes have so many options running the ball that it's hard to not see multiple 1,000 yard rushers instead of an aerial assault on par with September's Geno Smith.  Different offenses, I know, but the point stands.

popeurban's picture

As to keeping the backs happy, Alabama seems to be keeping their backs happy, I hope we can be high powered enough to do the same. 

German Buckeye's picture

I have no issue keeping a lot of backs - injuries happen.  Best to have a big stable of guys you can count on - they just need to be patient for playing time. 

Squirrel Master's picture

Smith and Dunn will be fine. They will get some play this year and be the top 2 backs next year. Ball I would say is likely to transfer if he feels he will get stuck out of the rotation.
I find more improbably that Zeke will get playing time. He will not only be behind those two for carries but also have to fight Hall, Corey Brown and Jalin Marshall for the hybrid slot role too. I would suspect Marshall would get more opportunity than Zeke but you never know.
Injuries happen and it is nice to know that if a rash happens, there is some very talented depth now.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

buckeyedude's picture


When you next see Hall and Smith on the field, they’ll be donning the Nos. 2 and 7. But it won’t be in the usual capacity. It will be Hall wearing No. 2 and Smith wearing 7.

Where did you get that info? Interesting. I like the idea of switching things up like that. Maybe it will help Roderick cure his fumblitis and lead to a really productive season in 2013. He'll still be following El Guapo, but he could be the featured power running back in 2014 with Zeke playing the Percy Harvin type RB.



buckeyedude's picture

Copy that, Jason. Thanks. I don't Twitter, but I'm glad we got people that do, to keep up on this stuff. ;)



armybuckinva's picture

I wish nothing but the best for Hall.  I hope he can stay clear of the injuries and put together one helluva season in 2013.  Its great to have all these fanatastic running backs but I'd assume that as a coach, it has to be hard to find a way to get all these guys on the field. Hall, Hyde, Smith, and Dunn could start on other teams in the BIG and other teams across the country.

Pbum32's picture

Jordan do yourself and Buckeye Nation a favor and get yourself a pair of these when you take your dog out or just keep them on at all times:
Above all else no bare feet

shortbus20's picture

Great article except where you included Maurice Clarett as a legend...infamous certainly...legend not.

  • shortbus20
bhsiba99's picture

Had the same thought .... 1 season does not a legend make.    Perhaps a case could be made for Beanie Wells instead ...

CC's picture

It does when you win the national championship and you are the main weapon.

bodast67's picture

I took that point as meaning his Freshman numbers were legendary. This kid was one or two injuries from winning the Heisman that season. 




     " I hope when I die, I die laughing"...                

DefendYoungstown's picture

Not true, we don't have #13 in 2001/2002 NCG we don't beat Miami.

What we can't do in the air we'll do on the ground.

CC's picture

We also don't get there.

Unky Buck's picture

I will say that I found it odd that his name was included in the list, but you're right, when you think about it, there is no way that we beat Miami, let alone get there, without him.

Rock over London; Rock on Chicago. Timex: It takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

farmerbuck's picture

Awesome read!! I'm so ready for the season to start right now!! Ours gonna be a looooooong off season!!

You have to hate losing more than you love winning! GO BUCKS!!

OSUAndy07's picture

God, is the season here yet?

"But I'm tryin' Ringo. I'm tryin', real hard, to be the shepherd"

BuckeyeinExile's picture

I was really happy for the year Rod Smith had. I still think if we go undefeated we get screwed and end up merely winning the Rose Bowl, although apparantly that is hard (Wisky). With that said, I still think Hyde has a big year with the rest of the crew supporting, however I think 2014 is going to be our year, with Rod Smith as the main beast in the backfield. Of course this is all conjecture, we did think we had a deep backfield last year before all those injuries. My goodness though this is an impressive amount of talent at running back that has probably been seen only a few times if ever in Columbus. No matter what good times are ahead!

buckeyedude's picture

I agree with everything you said except Roderick being the "main beast".  He's #2. El Guapo proved himself worthy of the #1 RB numerous times last season when we needed him.



cinserious's picture

Hyde is certainly the top dawg on the backfield, but Rod Smith has the most 'potential'. Its just never been realized because of all the fumbling. I've seen flashes of brilliance out of Smith though with his combination of size, speed, vision, moves/quickness. He is the total package if he can hold onto the football.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

Squirrel Master's picture

He said 2014! Hyde is a senior this coming year, he won't be on the team in 2014. Smith will be the top of the depth chart unless he gest surpassed for some reason by Dunn or Zeke.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

BoFuquel's picture

Check out The Buckeye 50 Yardline today.I saw it on the internet it must be true.GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

jameslee203's picture

Hyde should go pro.  Let Rod, Hall, and Dunn get the carries.  I think Rod can be the inside banger, Dunn to a lesser extent and then let Hall be an outside guy.  I'm not as much a fan of Hall as I was.  He just seemed slow last yr.  Maybe like a Boom with more moves, less power.

buckeyedude's picture

Hyde is money in the bank in short yardage situations. Rod, although a great runner, every time he touches the ball, I fold my hands and pray he doesn't fumble the ball. Especially when he runs between the tackles.
No. We need El Guapo to make a run for the NC in 2013, thank you. And although I disagree with you, I didn't give you the downer, bro.



luckynewman13's picture

upvoting to balance the unnecessary downvote

babbski's picture

Hopefully with Hall's foot fully healed, he'll regain his old form and be a little quicker this year. I think that while he was medically cleared to play last fall, the foot was still hindering him quite a bit.

kdogg72's picture

It's officially a crowded backfield but what a great problem to have.  I look forward to seeing our version of the NFL spread as well as year 2 under Urban Meyer. What a great time to be a football fan of The Ohio State University. Thanks Eleven Warriors for all you do

EvanstonBuckeye's picture

This really explains our approach to not taking another true RB outside of Zeke, who is going to rock it. A good problem indeed.

Devin1024's picture

Wow! This is the best article on 11W in awhile; and that is saying something because everything on 11W is gold! 

buckeyepastor's picture

Hall/Hyde/Smith/Dunn/Elliott is going to be amazing to watch.  Unless he really dazzles in the spring, gotta think that Warren Ball is the odd man out.  Wouldn't blame him if he chose to take his talent elsewhere.  Unless, of course, we could somehow convert him over to safety or something.   With five other very solid backs, unless one or two get injured, even the return game would appear to be full.  Especially remembering that Philly Brown is already a pretty adept and dangerous return man - and Roby is aching for his opportunities there, too.   
Anyone who watched the NC game, how Bama used a pair of backs to slash and bulldoze ND, has to see that with the stable of talent there for OSU, they have the same sort of potential.  Add to that a QB who when healthy can be our most dangerous runner, and we're pretty potent.  Was surprised that with the yards McCarron put up, they only had one receiver with over 30 catches, and a number of them that saw an average of a couple of catches or less per game.  If we can get to a depth with passing the ball that we have not 2 but 4 receivers that teams really have to worry about, we will be lethal.  Not quite there yet, but if Marshall and one other can step up this year, we can really do a lot of damage.   
The idea of pairing Hall and Hyde, with their difference in styles, or at the next level Smith and Dunn, makes me so excited for fall.   Not to mention the leaders on the offensive side of the ball - Miller, Hyde, Hall, Brown, Mewhort, Smith - all of those guys battle tested, wtih a couple of years at least under their belts.    
We've come such a long ways from 2003 when our backs were Lydell Ross and Mo Hall and Mo Wells.   And I don't even remember who was behind them on the depth chart.  I assume a very young Antonio Pittman.    
Gotta think that with all the DL and DBs we've gotten the last two years, next year apart from the LBs we will really be making the OL a priority.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

This has the potential to be a very scary offense this year!!!  I am glad Jordan got his medical redshirt - he is going to be fun to watch with Braxton, Hyde, and others!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Dougger's picture

from having a near-empty backfield during the season to absolutely loaded. well done coaching staff, good problem to have.. 
if i had to rank these guys in order of who i want to see most! its tough, but i think hyde is number one because he's proven it (and i saw him on new years and we both agreed 2013 could be better than 2012), EzE number two because im really excited to see him play, rod smith number three because he's been sittin in the shadows waiting, jordan hall next-maybe him and EzE will play slot a lot. then dunn and ball. theyll just have to wait.

I like football

buckeye76BHop's picture

It's nice to have a stable of running backs.  Nice article too Kyle.  Glad to see Hyde's coming back...he was very instrumental in OSU closing out the win vs tTUN in the final minutes and many other instances during last years season.     

"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 

otrain2416's picture

Hyde, Smith, Hall, Dunn, Ball, Zeke I'm having trouble deciding who to give the ball to lol

We were born to love Ohio State and hate that team up north.

OldColumbusTown's picture

With Elliott's speed and pass-catching abilities, I'd love to see him used as more of a WR this year.  Let him get the ball in his hands and use his speed/strength combination at the wideout position, since he more than likely won't get a huge amount of opportunities to run the ball this coming year.
Think Michael Wiley as a freshman (outstanding young WR who then turned into a great RB, his more natural position, the next three years).

Bucksnut13's picture

I think that Elliott could bring some much needed speed and quickness to the backfield. Would not be surprised at all to see him get a healthy amount of carries next year. Also everyone is forgetting that Jalin Marshall is more than capable of carrying the ball as well. I think the coaches will line Marshall up everywhere, maybe even wildcat qb to take some hits off of Braxton plus Jalin will have the threat of throwing that most other wildcat qb's don't 

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

mtharp's picture

Great read!
I would love to see the spread go away when were up 21 though... power I with Rod and Carlos 4 yards and 30 seconds at a time to seal the deal. I just never felt like we put our foot on anyones neck at the end of games last year.  
Not in ANYWAY complaining about the coaching just something i would like to see.

Bucksnut13's picture

We didn't step on anyone's necks last year because the offense was relatively limited and we did not have the playmakers that could take what should be short gains and turn them into big yardage. This year we do with hall Elliott and marshall

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

3technique's picture

I think both Dunn and Smith will get carries because I think this offense will be so much more productive than last year. The coaches will have them ready. I look for EZE to get the little swing passes, and use his speed to turn them into big games. The one pass he got in the Allstar game he looked like he was shot out of a cannon... This talent will make all of these backs work harder too.. Rod Smith will get more carries to spell El Guapo for later in the season.. I also think xBrax will end up getting less carries as well. Great time to be a buckeyes fan!

Hovenaut's picture

First season with 11W....not a bad one to jump on board with.

My first offseason has been a little less melancholy than those past because of all the spot on news.

Think this is the best offseason article I've read yet.

Woody, it ain't three yards and a cloud of dust but I think it will do!

Kudos to 11W and all the OSU faithful. As if being a Buckeye isn't already awesome enough, here's to GREAT times ahead!

osubuckeye4life's picture

The Buckeye Hydra will be in full effect this year.