Building the Perfect Buckeye Running Back From Stars of the Past

By Jeff Beck on April 26, 2014 at 6:00a
Archie G

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?


Comments Show All Comments

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Definitely need Beanie's stiff arm of doom.

Carlos would bowl you over.

Unless you're Chris Borland....

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

Killer nuts's picture

I feel like some part of Maurice Clarett would add value, I just can't decide what 

+13 HS
741's picture

His grit and pure football instinct.

+7 HS
BuckeyeBBD's picture

^This. Grit is the word I was looking for.  At the end of the article all I could think was: No Maurice?


"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." - Wayne Woodrow Hayes

+5 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

BBD - thanks for posting - one of the biggest turning points of the game - unbelievable turn of events

+1 HS
741's picture

One of the greatest football plays in Ohio State history.

+1 HS
PoKeY21's picture

I'm saying his legs. They were like 2 tree trunks sprung out of a torso. At 19 he came in and dominated college football for a season, you don't do that without being a physical specimen.

"It was a woman who drove me to drink, come to think of it I never did hang around to thank her for that"

CGroverL's picture

God Bless M*ch*gan born Craig Krenzel and his WR corps, but that team of 2002 was turned National Champions on its defense....and Maurice Clarett. He quickly dethroned Lydell Ross (wasn't it?) and Ohio State had a RB fit for the NFL as a freshman. His "total package" which maybe didn't have the best power, speed, shiftiness, or anything else that would have given him a part of that list but you have to admit....NO CLARETT, NO CHAMPIONSHIP. Braxton Miller is the Buckeyes' most dangerous weapon as of right now, but in my opinion, the Buckeyes would be #1 from beginning to end in 2014 along with a cakewalk through the playoffs with Maurice Clarett as a freshman on this 2014 squad. Because of his transgressions after his championship season, we seem to dismiss him a bit. I'll tell you this though....NO BUCKEYE that I ever got to see play (I'm 41 years old) got my heart pumping and thinking "10 yards minimum" EVERY time he touched the ball like Clarett did. I expected to win EVERY game he was a part of and was scared when he wasn't in the line-up (like during the play now called "Holy Buckeye"). Clarett was the best...if only for one year, and when it comes to the Heisman Trophy...I would have liked to see any CFB RB do what Clarett did in that offense. No other player could have. Maurice Clarett WAS the best football player in 2002, regardless of what happened when it came down to awards and to him after that season.

"I hope they're last in everything". One of Meyer's comments when speaking of TTUN after being hired at Ohio State.



cplunk's picture

Most important thing about any RB is patience and vision. Vision to see the hole, patience to avoid just plowing into the line. A patient back actually starts slow, waits until he sees the opening, then hits it with whatever his strength is (explosive speed, power, nimble shiftiness, whatever).

What impressed me about Carlos, and convinces me he'll be a top level NFL back, is his patience. He was one of the most patient backs I've seen in college in my thirty plus years of watching college ball.

So I'll add in Carlos Hyde's patience.


+2 HS
CGroverL's picture

....and Hyde never really developed that until his senior year. In his sophomore and junior years, he was a battering ram from the time the ball was snapped. The option forced him to wait a bit and by that time, the defense had to pick their poison. I, like you, believe he is the most NFL-ready RB there is, but his patience/vision was always considered his weakness until the offense change. Hyde only could have been a little better if he had developed a stiff-arm. I think that him watching Rod Smith fumble 4 times in his first 50 carries made him learn to keep both hands on the ball and run people over instead.

I know we are talking RB's, but speaking of stiff-arms, Pryor could keep bigger LB's away and even get by them with his gazelle like strides of his.

"I hope they're last in everything". One of Meyer's comments when speaking of TTUN after being hired at Ohio State.



Hovenaut's picture

Goalline/short yardage: Pete Johnson.

Bowl game performance/nickname: Raymont "The Quiet Storm" Harris

Most versatile/best hands: Brian Baschnagel

+2 HS
BuckFly's picture

For goal line/short yardage, don't overlook Jim Otis


+4 HS
Hovenaut's picture man...he came to mind, trust me.

Went with Johnson...alltime OSU career rushing touchdown leader.

+2 HS
allinosu's picture

Exactly, many across the nation thought Pete Johnson was the better back than Archie and he turned out to be the better pro. Then there was third and Otis. 

+2 HS
gumtape's picture

Pass protection/ blocking ability is also pretty important for a running back. Hyde was outstanding at that as well. I have a feeling that in a few years EzE will be on this list too.

High and tight boo boo

+1 HS
HighBallAce's picture

I have that same feeling about Elliot....that kid has greatness written all over him. I just hope my feeling is right.

+1 HS
HighBallAce's picture

I think one of the greats in my mind that is often forgotten was Carlos Snow! I loved to watch him return kickoffs and he single handly saved a Buckeye would be loss to Minnesota. One of the greatest games to have ever been played.

+1 HS
BeijingBucks's picture

YAC. Carlos Snow

i think he left it all for the Buckeyes poor kid. Destroyed his body, concussion probablly every week but I always remember him getting hit and keeping on for another 5 yards.  Best? Maybe not but still... YAC is a measurable I'd be curious about

Just a shout out kinda random but he stood out in my memories as a kid. 


None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

+3 HS
BeijingBucks's picture

bloody double posts 


None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

+1 HS
InvertMyVeer's picture

I wonder if this hypothetical superback would get his number called on 4th and 2 with the season on the line. I'm not bitter or anything Urbz, I promise to get over it when we win it all this year. 

Football is complicated...

+8 HS
Nutinpa's picture

How about his number getting called more often in the 4th quarter....period?  

Urbs and Herman choked on their head sets against Sparty and vs. Clemson.

That aside, I enjoyed this read.  As someone else posted...somewhere in the list belongs Jim Otis. 

M Man's picture

Based on games against us, it is Beanie Wells who will always make my head hurt.  I can think of only three guys who we just could not stop.  Beanie Wells, Troy Smith, and whoever had the ball on offense on the '68 team.

But among your best runners, one thing sort of stands out and that is that they were all terrific hitters.  Otis; Johnson; Byars; Griffin.  Even Eddie George.  I wonder how much film some of the younger 11W crowd has seen of Griffin.  He was a slasher; a north-south banger.  That he took so many shots, with so many carries, putting up so many yards, missing so few downs in an entire career, with 1970's medicine/training; as player who was not big (except for his heart); it is amazing.

+15 HS
CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Best beard has to go to Archie!!  Helps strike fear into the opposite team.  Another great quality about the two time Heisman trophy winner!

Go Bucks!!

M Man's picture

Not a beard!  Those are sideburns, from the epic age of sideburns.  Your mistaking them for a beard makes it all the better.

His Heisman portrait: 


+9 HS
TossTrap's picture

I can still remember Woody's television program where he just gushed over Archie.

He would show a clip of a great run and say "just look at the string of pearls" (he used that metaphor for the tacklers laying on the ground after they missed Arch).

First and goal at the five and Arch is getting the ball.

+2 HS
SweetBabyJames's picture


how many of the other perfect RB's helped us win a NC????

+3 HS
nightmuse's picture

Watching Hyde's Senior Season Highlights--also was a reminder of how exceptional our O-Line was....1-2 Punch--Don't know if we have had a better O-Line Unit across the board.

+1 HS
MikeNugents BigToe's picture

I'm gonna miss it on Saturday's, but seeing El Guapo end zone flexing on Sunday will be pretty amazing too. 

"Remember that 55 yarder against Marshall?" -Not Mike Nugent

sivaDavis's picture

You could probably give the ball to Carlos with no offensive line and he'll find a way to get a yard... or maybe two, Tom Herman! 


Also... I miss seeing Beanie play. 

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

Bradyhokescholesterol's picture

I've been spoiled with Buckeye backs and I was born in 1986. You older fellas have gotten to witness some amazing things.

+1 HS
Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

It amazes me how no one has mentioned Tim Spencer. Reminds me how young most of the other posters here must be. Spencer contributed as a freshman. He played TB and FB. He could catch the ball out of the backfield. And no one could catch him...just ask the Duke defenders left in his wake for an 82-yard run to start that game (1981, I think). And in the 1982 Holiday Bowl, he was unstoppable on a team that had a lot of weapons and a young Mike Tomczak who was just rounding into a solid QB.

+2 HS
Todd-Not Boeckmann's picture

Start the Game?!?  How about first play of the season!   Boy we thought that was going to be a year with that.

On the wall guarding the North Coast from all Weasel invasions.

-1 HS
lamplighter's picture

Spencer has always been one of my favorites - always underestimated.  Kudos to you sir

CGroverL's picture

Tim Spencer, Raymont Harris, Joe Montgomery, Robert Smith (doing homework and playing school).....there have been lots of them that are overlooked. Ohio State has had too many to (almost) remember....In the 1996 NFL Draft, both Terry Glenn and Rickey Dudley were drafted before Eddie George....

"I hope they're last in everything". One of Meyer's comments when speaking of TTUN after being hired at Ohio State.



Ugly Hour Chazz Bear's picture

Vision: Maurice Clarett

I like the bux.

+1 HS
ScarletNGrey01's picture

Football IQ and quickness ... Robert Smith.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

+4 HS
Colerain 2004 G.O.A.T.'s picture

I was pretty sure Robert Smith was one of the fastest RBs of all time too. Almost as big a tragedy of leaving Joey Galloway off the list.

I speak the truth but I guess that's a foreign language to yall.~~Lil Wayne

+3 HS
Osurrt's picture

Good call on Robert Smith.....I would trade Michael Wiley out for Robert Smith. He was a burner and a better vision runner than Wiley. He gets forgotten as his time in Columbus was short.

CGroverL's picture

Robert Smith was 6'2" tall and somehow could be quick with his feet AND looked like a long legged gazelle (like a shorter Terrelle Pryor) once he did turn the jets on.

Additionally, Robert Smith has some strange numbers to his credit in the NFL. He has the most rushing yards per TD in NFL history. That sounds like an achievement, but really it isn't. Smith had just 32 rushing TD's in his career. So his 6,818 rushing yards are a ton for a ball carrier that reached the end zone just 4 times per season over 8 years. On top of that, Smith's best career was his 2000 season where the Vikes had QB, Daunte Culpepper, Randy Moss, and Cris "I only catch touchdown passes" Carter. You have to have 2 Buckeyes in skill positions to put up the kind of numbers that team did. Anyway though....Robert Smith, in his 8th season, led the NFC with 1,521 yards, had a career high 295 carries (former high was 249), and also had a career high of 1869 yards from scrimmage (former high was 1478). So....contrary to having his most productive year (by far) of his entire 8 year career, he retired.

"I hope they're last in everything". One of Meyer's comments when speaking of TTUN after being hired at Ohio State.



jamesrbrown322's picture

This article reminds me how much I love Eddie George! What a great Buckeye, analyst, and quality person he is! I only wish his NFL career has lasted a little longer to get him into the HOF. I did run into him a Kroger last weekend. Still a nice guy, and still HUGE.

Honestly, I know I am in the minority, but Eddie is, IMO, probably OSU's greatest RB. He could very easily be the name next to each quality that was mentioned above, excepting speed.

BTW, did we completely forget Robert Smith, who by all accounts is probably the fastest Buckeye RB of all-time?

Speed kills


"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

+2 HS
Killer nuts's picture

If this series ever gets to "Building the perfect Ohio State offensive lineman" I hope the answer is simply: Orlando Pace

+6 HS
Osurrt's picture

Or at least until Meechy Knox gets a few years under his belt.....

Knarcisi's picture

For a big back, Beanie had extremely good feet in the box. He had an innate ability to quickly shift direction and find the crease in the line of scrimmage. 

-1 HS
BUCKfutter's picture

Except for the toe part of his feet

the kids are playing their tail off, and the coaches are screwing it up! - JLS

Larrinator's picture

I can't wait to watch EZE this year, he is a beast! 


+3 HS
Kid Gloves's picture

We've had so many Buckeye Greats in the past that fill those RB positions - It's fun to look back and scratch the surface of these STUDS

Patriot4098's picture

Scoring = Eddie George

"Evil shenanigans!"     - Mac

Buckeye5000's picture

Eddie did score a lot his SR. year but for scoring I would have to go with Pete Johnson.

2014 Undisputed National Champions!

lamplighter's picture

okay,since no one esle has - Champ Henson.


Archie is my all time favorite - with Eddie and Beanie close behind .  Start with Archie, give him a little more speed and just a tad bigger,

Buckeye5000's picture

Keith Byars 257lbs? I see you got that from Wikipedia. That may have been his playing weight for the Philadelphia Eagles, but I have the 1984 Illinois game on video tape and for that game he is listed at 229lbs. I am not trying to argue but being from Dayton at the time and following his career all the way from when he won state titles in football, basketball, and track at (long closed) Roth high school I can say with almost absolute certainty that he never played at more than 235lbs. while at OSU.

2014 Undisputed National Champions!

NorthwestOhioBuck's picture

Okay I know I am young but A. Were these guys really faster than Dontre Wilson? B. Forget question A if you don't consider him a running back and therefore I am sorry you wasted 20 seconds of your life reading this.

In Urban we trust. That is all

Mortc15's picture

Bronze statue if he hadnt missed those games. Man, he would have run for over 2000 yards and add in that he should been force-fed the ball in the 4th quarter of the Big Ten title and you're looking at a 2000+ running back with 20+ tds and playing for a national title. The Heisman definitely wouldnt have been a surprise. That line was something else, too.