TreVeyon Henderson’s Injury Became Too Painful to Play in College Football Playoff, But He’s Trying to Be A Team Leader from Sidelines

By Dan Hope on December 29, 2022 at 6:15 pm
TreVeyon Henderson at practice
Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch/USA TODAY Network

Even though he won’t be able to play in the College Football Playoff, TreVeyon Henderson has been with the Ohio State football team all week as the Buckeyes prepare to play Georgia.

While many of Ohio State’s unavailable players weren’t arriving in Atlanta until Thursday, Henderson traveled with the team on Sunday and has been with the Buckeyes for all of their team activities since, using a hands-free crutch to walk around with his surgically repaired foot in a walking boot.

If it were up to Henderson, he wouldn’t just be watching the Buckeyes practice. After initially injuring his foot during Ohio State’s third game of the year against Toledo, Henderson played hurt for most of the year. He only ended up being able to play in five of Ohio State’s final nine regular-season games, however, as his injury continued to linger.

After missing Ohio State’s ninth and 10th games of the season against Northwestern and Indiana, Henderson returned to start against Maryland. He played only one snap in the second half of that game after looking hampered by his injury in the first half, though, and that would end up being his final snap of the season.

Henderson did not play in the regular-season finale against Michigan and announced on Dec. 13 he would undergo season-ending surgery to repair a fracture and a torn ligament in his left foot.

He said Thursday at Peach Bowl media day that his injury became too painful to continue playing this year.

“I tried to make a comeback for this game. We had a good plan in place. I was doing a lot of things to try to heal on its own again, which I've been trying to do the whole season. But eventually, like my foot, it was going good at first and my foot just ended up – I don't know what it was – but that pain just came back,” Henderson said. “I wasn't even reaching full speed. Like I was just jogging for a couple of days, and then that pain just came back. And that’s when I decided like, ‘I'm gonna just have to get surgery on this thing.’”

Henderson’s performance was clearly hampered by his health this season as he ran for only 571 yards and six touchdowns on 107 carries (5.34 yards per carry) after he rushed for 1,255 yards and 15 touchdowns on 184 attempts (6.82 yards per carry) as a true freshman. He had only five plays of 20 or more yards from scrimmage in 2022 compared to 17 in 2021.

Henderson said it was tough playing while feeling like he couldn’t perform up to his usual ability. But he battled through his injury as much as he thought he could because he didn’t want to let his teammates down.

“I was trying to do what's best for my brothers,” Henderson said. “I was trying to practice for my brothers, trying to play for my brothers, man, and I tried to do the best I could.”

Henderson’s efforts were appreciated by his teammates, including quarterback C.J. Stroud, who passionately defended Henderson and fellow injured teammate Jaxon Smith-Njigba when asked about both of them sitting out the CFP due to their injuries.

“Of course, I want Trey and Jaxon, other players that are out to play. And honestly, it sucks. I feel so bad for them, and they work so hard. And honestly, the stuff that people are saying to them is crazy, man,” Stroud said on Dec. 14. “It's unfair for people to try to ridicule Jaxon or Trey or anybody who's out with injury because that's the worst part of this game.”

Henderson expressed gratitude to Stroud for having his back.

“That's my brother, man. He always takes up for us. I wish more people were like C.J.,” Henderson said. “It’s sad that he even had to do that, man. It’s sad that it even had to get to that point with me and Jaxon. A lot of people outside of the building don't know what we go through in this building. And if they knew they would be like, it'll shock them. Like if they knew Jaxon's story, what happened, it’ll shock them, for sure.”

This week, though, it’s Henderson’s turn to have his teammates’ backs as he supports them from the sideline. While he won’t be able to contribute on the field, he wants to be a team leader as the Buckeyes compete for a berth in the national championship game, and he prepares to become an upperclassman next season.

“It’s very important,” Henderson said of being with the team this week. “Because this whole season, I've just been working on my leadership role. It finally comes into play right here. I’m injured, banged up right now, but the most I can do is be here for my teammates and be a leader for them.”

Dallan Hayden, one of three running backs who could see CFP carries in place of Henderson along with Miyan Williams and Chip Trayanum, said “it means a lot” that Henderson remains a constant presence around the team despite his injury.

“He’s like our leader of the room,” Hayden said. “Kind of like another coach. He's been awesome.”

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