Building the Perfect Buckeye Running Back From Stars of the Past

By Jeff Beck on April 26, 2014 at 6:00a
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On Monday I Frankensteined the perfect Buckeye wide receiver from attributes of past stars. It was so much fun I decided to do it again. This time with running backs.

So without further adieu. Let’s hit the lab.

Elusiveness: Archie Griffin

College football’s only two-time Heisman winner could have been listed next to every attribute on this list (with the exception of size). Standing at 5’10’’ Archie certainly wasn’t the biggest player in the room. But it didn’t matter. When he hit the field he was going to outrun you, weave past you, or plow through you. Countless highlights show Archie spinning and bouncing off of tackles. Just when opponents thought they had him, he was out of their tackle and 15 yards downfield.

Heart: Eddie George

As a freshman, Eddie George came in and added value immediately, rushing for three touchdowns in a win over Syracuse. But, just two weeks later against Illinois, George coughed up two critical fumbles that cost the Buckeyes the game. Head coach, John Cooper, took note and Eddie touched the ball just 12 times for the remainder of the season.

The following year, George was listed as the team’s third string running back and received only 42 carries for the season. Something like that can mess with a kid’s psyche. But, Eddie had the heart to stick with it, putting together a phenomenal junior season (1,442 yards and 12 TDs) and a Heisman trophy winning senior campaign (1,927 yards: tops in Buckeye history for a season).

Size: Keith Byars

With 1,764 yards his junior year, Keith Byars still holds down the second spot on the Buckeyes’ rushing yards in a season list. That year he finished second to Doug Flutie in the Heisman trophy race with 2,441 all-purpose yards. At 6’1’’ 257 pounds, Byars looked more defensive end than running back, but even with his hulking stature, Byars was incredibly nimble. Just have a look at the big boy taking a kickoff 99 yards to the house in the 1984 Fiesta Bowl. 

Strength: Beanie Wells/Carlos Hyde

When talking strength, it was hard for me to separate Beanie Wells and Carlos Hyde, so I’ll take ‘em both. Wells and Hyde carried the ball with bad intentions. Every time they touched it, they were looking to punish defenders.

Players with the running style of a Beanie or Carlos need to hit the weight room to keep their organs intact. It was clear both were no stranger to squats.

Wells bombarded his way to 1,609 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore (his best season statistically), then followed that up with a 1,197 yard 8 touchdown junior year. Wells’ bruising style had him constantly battling injury, but when he was on the field he was a beast.

El Guapo’s final season is still fresh in Buckeye Nation’s collective mind. The senior from Florida put together his best year in the Scarlet and Gray running for 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns (after missing the first three games of the season). I’m a firm believer Hyde would have taken home the bronze statue had he played in the first three tilts, but that’s a discussion for a different day. Moral of the story: you weren’t bringing Hyde down without a fight. If you didn’t get out of the way, Carlos would bowl you over.

Need further proof? Here are a few moving pictures of Wells and Hyde overpowering everything that stood in their paths.

Speed: Michael Wiley

Michael Wiley may not show up at the top of the Buckeye record books, (No. 16 on the most rushing yards in a season list with 1,235), but he’s got to be one of the fastest Buckeye running backs to ever tote the pigskin.

The kid had breakaway speed and he showcased it immediately, rushing for three long touchdowns in his first game as a Buckeye. He finished his career with 2,951 yards (8th all time) and rattled off ten 100-yard games during his tenure (good enough for 9th in the record book).

Here’s Wiley outrunning the entire state of Michigan en route to a score. Nice wheels fella.

Piecing together the most impressive physical specimen from parts of Buckeye legends wasn’t easy. Over the years, Ohio State’s depth of talent at running back has been as good as it gets. But, if it came down to it, the players above would supply the ingredients for my Scarlet and Gray terror machine. Who makes your list?

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