A month out from the NFL draft, you’d be hard-pressed to find Master Teague’s name on many projection lists. But with a standout performance at Ohio State’s pro day, the former Buckeye running back only helped his draft stock.
Before the marquee event of Wednesday’s proceedings at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, first-round draft hopefuls Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson catching passes from C.J. Stroud and Cardale Jones, it was Teague that garnered most of the oohs and ahs from onlookers at the indoor practice facility.
Not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis at the start of the month, Teague had to wait until late March to show off his measurements and testing numbers, which have always been the strength of a 5-foot-11, 221-pound athlete who is notoriously chiseled out of granite.
Long rumored to have one of the fastest 40-yard dash times in the Buckeye program over the last several seasons, Teague ran an official 4.44-second 40 at the WHAC Wednesday. His 27 reps on the bench press and 10-foot, 11-inch broad jump were both better than any running back at the combine. All of those were the top marks of any Buckeye that participated in pro day testing.
“I already know what I could do, I already knew I could do that, so it’s not surprising,” Teague said at the conclusion of pro day. “I just do it, you know. … I was doing (broad jumping) for the last – in high school I was doing that. So it’s kind of just what I’m used to. I know I can do it. I was trying to get 11 actually, but I got 10-11. That’s still good.”
Teague also caught balls from Stroud and Jones alongside the Buckeye wideouts, making sure scouts saw his hands up close and personal following four years on the field in which he caught just 11 passes in scarlet and gray. But Teague lacks no confidence in his ability to catch that ball, and he wanted that to be known on Wednesday.
“A lot of times people second-guess with big backs, you know, can you catch? I can catch, for sure,” Teague said. “It might not be as pretty as some of the receivers like Olave and them, but I can work towards that, it’s just the body type is a little different. But I can definitely catch, hopefully I showed that today. I'm confident in my hands and so hopefully they saw that and can dispel some of the second-guessing on that end.”
Teague’s decision to enter the draft after his redshirt junior season may have perplexed some, as the four-star recruit in the 2018 cycle had his least productive season since his true freshman campaign in 2021. Teague was hampered with injuries for much of the season, and in seven appearances, he rushed for 355 yards and four touchdowns on 67 carries.
Two seasons prior, Teague was a third-team All-Big Ten running back after rushing for 789 yards behind J.K. Dobbins, a season that seemed to foreshadow a brighter future than what Teague ultimately put together at Ohio State.
“Of course last year didn’t go the way that I imagined. Either way, I just wanted to show my character, be available whenever I could and contribute any way that I could. It’s been a journey for sure,” Teague said. “I feel like my sophomore year was probably the best year that I showed and I had. With COVID this next year, it was all right, but I wasn’t fulfilled with that. Part of it was my performance but also the limited amount of games that we had.”
Teague returning was an option, but given the emergence of TreVeyon Henderson as the unquestioned bellcow back for Ohio State as just a true freshman, the Tennessee native knew he might not have the role he wanted if he came back. Teague said he also considered transferring elsewhere for one final season in college, but felt turning pro was his best course of action.
“With the situation at hand, I felt that I was ready to move forward,” Teague said. “I felt confident in myself, I felt I was being led to do that. Coming back, I guess that was an option, but with the situation at hand, I wasn’t sure what it would be looking like because of this last year, how things went down. But right now I’m just in the moment, happy where I’m at and just looking forward to what the Lord does with all of it.”
But Teague said he never quite played to his full potential at Ohio State. Despite racking up 1,764 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns in his Buckeye career, Teague still feels like he didn’t show off the home-run ability he has when the ball is in his hand. Injuries, which helped open the door for backs like Trey Sermon and Henderson to receive carries that might have otherwise gone to Teague over the past two seasons, were a factor in that equation as well.
Ahead of the draft, Teague is looking to address what he perceives to be his biggest on-field shortcomings.
“Second-level running and really making those big plays and big runs. I got speed, but just making sure I put myself in a position where I can break those runs,” Teague said. “I know they’re not gonna come all the time. You gotta get gritty and dirty, I can do that, for sure. Third-and-short, red zone, I can do that. But I can also have that big play ability, I just have to put myself in position. I feel like some of the training I did this last couple months helped me to better be able to show that when the time comes when I get on the field.
“And then, of course, pass pro. That’s always something that running backs need to work on, that’s very important is protecting the QB, protecting his backside and making sure he’s clean. That’s always something that I can work on all the time.”
While Teague didn’t say which NFL teams in particular he’s spoken to, he said “quite a few” have contacted him for meetings over the phone or on Zoom. Even if his college career did not pan out in quite the manner he had hopes, Teague remains appreciative for the resources and opportunities he was given at Ohio State, which may still lead to a future at the next level.
“I’m grateful for being here,” Teague said. “This is a great place, you compete with great athletes every day, the alumni is great, the schooling is great, I’ve got a great education. So I’m looking forward to that in the future, but right now, I’m football. Football all day."