“Like A Kid on Christmas,” Carlos Locklyn Thrilled to Be Ohio State’s Running Backs Coach

By Dan Hope on April 11, 2024 at 8:35 am
Carlos Locklyn

Carlos Locklyn could hardly contain his excitement when he received a text message from Ryan Day last month.

Locklyn immediately showed the text to his wife, who didn’t know at the time who Day was. For the then-Oregon running backs coach, though, the mere fact that Day wanted to talk to him was a thrill.

“I was excited,” Locklyn said. “I was like a kid on Christmas, I'm like, ‘OK, well, I wonder, what does he want?’ It was a pretty exciting text, man, when I called him just to talk to him, I was pretty excited.”

Day, of course, wanted to talk to Locklyn about Ohio State’s running backs coach vacancy after Tony Alford left the Buckeyes for Michigan. After identifying 12 different candidates in what he described Wednesday as a “thorough” search, Day felt Locklyn stood out as the right choice for the position.

“First off, when you hear about Carlos' story, it's captivating. Where he's come from. And then you start to listen to his overall knowledge of the position, his aggressiveness in recruiting, the impact he's had on people, the relationships he's had on people, it was an absolute slam dunk for us,” Day said Wednesday. “He's already, in a short period of time, brought in an edge and a toughness and aggressiveness that I think is going to be excellent.”

Nine days after Ohio State officially hired him, Locklyn’s excitement to be with the Buckeyes hadn’t diminished.

“I’ve had to pinch myself every morning that I'm here in Columbus at Ohio State. This is kind of surreal for me,” Locklyn said Wednesday. “Great place, great people, great young men.”

Locklyn’s journey to becoming a position coach at Ohio State hasn’t been a conventional one. After playing at Chattanooga from 1996-99, Locklyn went into law enforcement. He didn’t start his coaching career until 2009, working as a coordinator in the high school ranks for eight years before getting his first opportunity at the collegiate level in 2017 at Memphis, where he started as a weight room assistant before working his way up to offensive analyst and director of high school relations.

That journey makes Locklyn all the more grateful for his opportunity at Ohio State now. And he believes his experience in law enforcement has made him a better coach.

“When I first got in this profession, I got my own room (as the running backs coach) at Western Kentucky, I was asked how I was going to be able to handle my room. I said ‘Man, I had a pod with 51 inmates, you’re talking about me having six or seven guys, are you kidding me?’” Locklyn recalled. “I’m talking about me having to do traffic stops or going on domestic violence calls – (being a running back coach by comparison is) simple, easy.”

“It was an absolute slam dunk for us.”– Ryan Day on hiring Carlos Locklyn

Locklyn is only his fourth year as a full-time running backs coach, holding that position for two years at Oregon after one year at Western Kentucky, but he doesn’t view himself as inexperienced. He believes his experience across all of his stops at the collegiate level, which also included one year at Florida State after three years at Memphis, has prepared him for his new opportunity.

“I know a lot of people look and say, ‘Well, this guy’s only been on the field for three years, Western Kentucky and Oregon.’ Just because I didn't have the title of a running back coach where I was at in Memphis, I never carried myself that way,” Locklyn said. “I always carried myself as a running back coach. I approached every day that way. So at Memphis, we had (eventual NFL running backs) Darrell Henderson, Patrick Taylor, Tony Pollard, Kenny Gainwell, Antonio Gibson. I’ve seen talented backs and I've seen them being able to function with one another … Same thing I did at Oregon. I had Bucky Irving, Noah Whittington, Jordan James. You go look at their numbers, they all functioned well together. We learned how to play as one. So this ain’t my first rodeo.”

“I’ve had to pinch myself every morning that I'm here in Columbus at Ohio State. This is kind of surreal for me.”– Carlos Locklyn on becoming Ohio State’s running backs coach

Now, Locklyn inherits a running back room that’s led by two of the nation’s best running backs, TreVeyon Henderson and Quinshon Judkins. Locklyn is well-familiar with both of their skill sets because he recruited them while he was at Florida State, and he’s confident he can help them become even better along with the rest of Ohio State’s running backs.

“Q is from where I'm from, Montgomery (Alabama). I was one of the first guys that offered him. Just watching him, great contact balance, creative runner, great hands. And Trey, I recruited him out of Virginia, exceptional short-area burst and quickness and things I'm gonna help him get better on,” Locklyn said. “And then I recruited James Peoples out of San Antonio, Texas, I knew what he was gonna be. TC (Caffey) and Sam (Williams-Dixon), those two kids I'm getting to know, and I'm going to help them improve their game. But we’ve got different runners in there. I'm in love with this position, so I get to break down runners and help their game. So talented room, very talented.”

Locklyn has no plans to do his job any differently at Ohio State than he did it at Oregon, saying he “can only be me.” But he’s motivated to work hard every day and confident he can be the best running backs coach in the country.

“When I step in this building, I got one mindset. That's to do my job so well that the living, dead and the unborn couldn’t do any better,” Locklyn said. “When I leave here, that's what my mindset is. Hopefully I'm here for a long time. But only God knows that. But that's my mindset. Every day I step into the Woody Hayes Center, that’s my mindset. I'm gonna do my job so well that the living, dead and the unborn couldn’t do it any better.”

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