Dallan Hayden Among Several Non-Freshmen Who Could Redshirt for Ohio State This Season

By Dan Hope on October 11, 2023 at 1:30 pm
Dallan Hayden

Dallan Hayden is in line to redshirt for Ohio State this season after playing in just one of the Buckeyes’ first five games.

Ryan Day confirmed Tuesday that Ohio State is currently looking to play Hayden in no more than four games this season in order to preserve his three remaining years of eligibility, though Hayden remains prepared and available to play more if needed.

“We talked about it in the preseason going into the season, and what we didn't want to do is put Dallan in a situation where with three running backs, we were going to use up a year of eligibility for him,” Day said. “He's ready to go, he's practicing and if appropriate, we'll put him in the game. But we also don't want to have him play in five or six games without getting a bunch of work in. We just don't think that that's the right thing to do for Dallan.”

While Hayden became a fan favorite with his performance last year as a true freshman, when he ran for 553 yards and five touchdowns on 111 carries, the decision to redshirt him this year isn’t particularly surprising. He might have redshirted last season if not for injuries to TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams, who remain ahead of Hayden on the depth chart this year along with Chip Trayanum, leaving the sophomore outside of this year’s running back rotation.

The plan to redshirt Hayden this year remains contingent on the health of the running backs in front of him, and it doesn’t rule out the possibility that Hayden could be inserted into the rotation if Ohio State determines he could help its running game this season. A case could have been made to do so with Hayden – or Evan Pryor, who has also played in only one game this season but has already used redshirt – when Henderson was sidelined last week against Maryland and the Buckeyes gained only 1.9 yards per carry in his absence, though Henderson is expected back in the lineup this week at Purdue.

For the long term, though, it makes sense for Ohio State to preserve Hayden’s remaining eligibility if he isn’t going to see substantial playing time this season. Henderson, Trayanum and Williams are all draft-eligible upperclassmen, so Hayden should have the opportunity to earn a bigger role next year and beyond, and Day said Hayden is on board with the plan to redshirt this year.

“Dallan was great about it. And if it's appropriate, he will go in, because he still has four games to play. And then we wouldn't burn a whole year of eligibility with Dallan as we look into the future, because we do think he's great, think he's a really good player,” Day said. “We have three guys already there, so that's kind of the conversation that we had. And he was great. He's working hard.”

Hayden likely won’t be the only non-freshman to redshirt for Ohio State this season. While Day has not publicly confirmed plans to redshirt any other players this season, there are three other sophomores and one junior who look like they could be on a trajectory toward redshirting.

Lorenzo Styles Jr., CB

Styles has been an obvious candidate to redshirt since he transferred to Ohio State this summer. He did not redshirt in either of his two seasons at Notre Dame, where he played regularly as a wide receiver, but is now in his first season as a cornerback at the collegiate level.

It looked like Ohio State might tear up that redshirt plan when Styles played on the kickoff, kickoff return, punt and punt return units against Indiana. But he’s played in only one game since – against Notre Dame – and that’s certainly not because of performance, as Styles earned Ohio State’s special teams player of the game award for his play against the Hoosiers.

When asked in September if Styles would redshirt, Ohio State secondary coach Tim Walton said “we’re just trying to take it a week at a time and see how things play out.” He could potentially be called upon to play at cornerback if any of Ohio State’s top three cornerbacks miss time, and it’s also possible the Buckeyes could decide Styles offers enough value on special teams that they need him to play more than four times in that capacity this year. 

So far, though, the Buckeyes are seemingly making a conscious decision to preserve Styles’ two remaining seasons of eligibility to give him the opportunity to compete for a bigger role on defense in 2024 and 2025.

Lorenzo Styles Jr.
Lorenzo Styles Jr. has played on special teams in two games this season but remains a candidate to take a redshirt this year.

Jyaire Brown, CB

Brown was not seen as a likely candidate to redshirt going into the season as he was in line to be Ohio State’s No. 4 cornerback, but it’s a plan that could warrant consideration now.

With Denzel Burke, Davison Igbinosun and Jordan Hancock playing nearly all of the snaps at cornerback so far this season, Brown has made only two game appearances against Youngstown State and Western Kentucky. He was unavailable for Ohio State’s most recent game against Maryland with an undisclosed injury. Jermaine Mathews Jr. made a case to be Ohio State’s No. 4 cornerback with his play in those two games, including a pick-six against Western Kentucky, while he’s also earned a role on special teams that makes him unlikely to redshirt this year.

Assuming Brown’s injury isn’t long-term, he could still be a candidate to see more playing time in the secondary as the season progresses. His versatility to play both outside and in the slot provides valuable depth at both cornerback and nickel. As with Styles, redshirting Brown could depend on the continued health of the top cornerbacks on the depth chart. If Brown is only likely to see playing time at the end of lopsided wins, however, it would be logical for Ohio State to preserve his three remaining years of eligibility for the chance to play a bigger role in future seasons.

Kye Stokes, S

Stokes seemed to be on the fast track toward playing a major role in Ohio State’s secondary early in his career when he stood out in his first spring as a Buckeye in 2022. He didn’t take a redshirt last year as a result, playing in nine games as a true freshman, though most of that playing time came in games that were already decided.

Five games into his sophomore season, Stokes hasn’t seen the field once, so it seems unlikely he will play in more than four games this year. There are at least four safeties ahead of him on the depth chart – starters Josh Proctor and Lathan Ransom and backups Ja’Had Carter and Malik Hartford – and Stokes hasn’t gotten any action on special teams either.

Kojo Antwi, WR

Antwi quietly burned his redshirt last season by playing in five games. It would have made sense for Ohio State to redshirt him last year, considering he played no more than seven offensive snaps in any of those five games, but it appears likely the Buckeyes will make up for that by redshirting him this year.

So far this year, Antwi’s only game appearance came on special teams against Western Kentucky. He hasn’t seen any offensive snaps in a loaded wide receiver corps, so unless he becomes a regular on a special teams unit, it’s unlikely he’ll play in any more than four games this season.

Should Hayden, Brown, Stokes and Antwi all redshirt this season, the only members of Ohio State’s 2022 recruiting class not to take a redshirt through two seasons as Buckeyes would be Sonny Styles, Caden Curry and C.J. Hicks (who have all played in every game this season and will not redshirt). Igbinosun will also go into next year as a true junior as he did not redshirt in his one season at Ole Miss before transferring to Ohio State.

The majority of this year’s freshman class is also likely to redshirt, as Carnell Tate is the only freshman who has played in all five games so far. Mathews, Malik Hartford, Brandon Inniss and Luke Montgomery have also played in four games each – meaning none of them will redshirt this year as long as they play in one more game – but the rest of Ohio State’s freshmen have all played in two games or fewer.

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