After rushing for 1,248 yards as a true freshman in 2021, averaging 6.8 yards per carry, TreVeyon Henderson had big plans for his sophomore season at Ohio State.
Things started well, as he rushed for 178 yards on just 25 carries over the course of the Buckeyes’ first two games last year, averaging 7.1 yards per carry. Then came a foot injury in week three against Toledo, and nothing was the same.
Henderson battled injury and pain, but still managed to rush for 121 yards against Wisconsin the week after Toledo. He missed the game the following week against Rutgers, but returned a week later to rush for 118 yards at Michigan State.
Henderson carried the ball 40 times in those two games, but would carry it just 38 more times over the Buckeyes’ final seven games. He missed four of the last five games, including the losses to Michigan and Georgia.
Surgery on his foot shut his season down. It also held him out of spring ball. He is now healthy and participating fully in fall camp. The excitement is back, which is why he was asked how he keeps from getting too excited, and if he instead just eased his way back in.
“I don’t know how to do that,” he said. “I’m just excited to be back, get on the field with my teammates. Compete and work hard. Yeah, I’m just looking forward to a great year. It feels good to be back though.”
As with all players dealing with an injury, the physical aspect of the recovery is only one part. The other side is having the game taken away from you and dealing with the loss and uncertainty.
“It’s a lot, man, and mentally it’s a lot and it can take a toll on you if you don’t have the right mindset,” Henderson said.
The best way to get through being unavailable on the field is to stay available off of it. That’s what Henderson did. He still wanted to impact the team even if he never touched a football
“Really, just learning how to be a leader. Be there for my teammates,” he said of what he took away from the experience last year. “I couldn’t play on the field, but the best thing I could do is lead those guys during practice and in the games. Just try to be there for those guys as best as I can.”
The recovery also involves a player returning to their former selves. It takes a lot of work to get back to pre-injury form, and like everything else, it starts with that first step.
“I think once I got the boot off I ran full speed. I felt fast,” Henderson said. “It feels great. It feels better than ever. Probably better than it was before. So it feels great.”
Once the boot came off, Henderson spent some time back home in Virginia training with his high school track coach Kerry Gray. They worked on speed and explosion to “earn” his old tools back.
Now that Henderson is in fact back, he returns to a running back room that is five deep, not counting sixth-year receiver Xavier Johnson who was used a handful of times out of the backfield last year.
This is a much deeper room than Henderson has ever been part of, but it’s also what he’s always expected to see at Ohio State.
“You just got to compete. I knew when I committed here, I knew what I was getting myself into,” he said. “And that’s why I chose The Ohio State University, because I know they bring in the best talent each and every year. And so I’m always just trying to compete, compete and get better. Just having that depth in that room, that pushes me harder every day. You’ve got to work every day. It’s a grind. You can’t take any days off. Can’t get complacent, and you’ve just got to work each and every day.”
Fall camp will eventually shake out a pecking order. It always does. When everything is finished this month, most expect Henderson to be right back where he’s always been.
Henderson, however, knows it’s going to be a process and requires the same kind of work that got him back in the first place.
“We’ll see, man. We’ve just got to keep working,” he said. “I’m trying to tune up everything and be the best running back I can, so we’ll see. Just gotta keep working.”