We continue our rankings of the top 10 offensive playmakers on this year’s Ohio State football team. The No. 8 player on this list stepped up when his team needed him and was arguably the biggest surprise of the entire Buckeye offense last season.
No. 8 – Dallan Hayden, Soph, RB
Dallan Hayden rushed for 553 yards on 111 carries (5.0 ypc) last year as a true freshman, which wouldn’t have been predicted by most. That’s not because people didn’t view him as capable, they just couldn’t have predicted the number of injuries to the three running backs ahead of him. Fortunately for Ohio State, Hayden prepared from day one to be ready if he was ever called upon.
Hayden’s 553 yards on the ground were a lot for a true freshman at Ohio State. It more than doubled what Ezekiel Elliott managed in 2013. It was over 400 yards better than Carlos Hyde or Miyan Williams managed as true freshmen, and over 200 yards better than what Curtis Samuel did as a rookie in 2014.
Hayden played in 10 games last season, and when he was actually given an opportunity, he produced. In the four games where he carried the ball at least 10 times last year, he rushed for 106.5 yards per game.
2022: 111 rushes, 553 yards (5.0 ypc), 5 TDs; 4 recs, 23 yards
The biggest play of Dallan Hayden’s career isn’t necessarily one play, but rather one half of play. With starters TreVeyon Henderson unable to go any further against Maryland, and Miyan Williams not going at all, Hayden carried the ball 26 times for 143 yards in the second half against the Terps. This was a contest that featured six combined touchdowns over the final 15:17 of the game. Maryland only trailed by three points early in the fourth quarter. Twice in the second half, Hayden carried the ball nine times on one drive. Once it was nine of 11 plays. Later it was nine of 10 plays. It was a lot to put on a freshman’s shoulders, and he handled it like a veteran.
Dallan Hayden’s longest play was a 45-yard rush early in the third quarter against Toledo. He took the hand-off and ran through a defensive lineman’s arm tackle in the backfield. He then beat another penetrating lineman to the edge and turned it upfield splitting three more defenders. He then read a block from receiver Xavier Johnson and bounced it outside a little bit more down the right sideline. He was finally pushed out of bounds a couple yards short of the end zone.
What He Does Well
Dallan Hayden only had two carries over 20 yards last year, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise when much of his playing time occurred when a defense knew the likelihood of a pass was lower. Despite that, he was remarkably consistent and able to keep the offense on schedule. He doesn’t waste time or stop-and-start when looking for a seam.
The bigger plays will come once he is routinely facing a defense that has to worry as much about the pass as the run. But even when the run is expected, Hayden is still going to run hard and get what can be gotten.
Expectations For This Season
Who the heck knows? If TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams stay healthy this season, it will be difficult for Dallan Hayden to match his numbers from last season. However, he showed enough as a true freshman to warrant playing time as a sophomore, right? But older tailbacks Chip Trayanum and Evan Pryor also need touches this season, so it’s going to be a crowded sideline for running backs coach Tony Alford.
What you can expect, however, is that if Dallan Hayden is called upon, he will answer that call. And don’t be surprised when he’s more explosive than he was a year ago as a true freshman.