James Peoples Ohio State Buckeyes Running Back
Football

Chip Kelly Happy With Development Of Young Running Backs

When you look at Ohio State’s running backs room, you see a pair of dynamic stars in senior TreVeyon Henderson and junior Quinshon Judkins. Those two alone are enough to warrant discussions about the Buckeyes having the best running backs in the nation.

But there’s a reason why the old adage of needing “a pair and a spare” is a college football truth. The game is hard and the bones and tendons are sometimes left wanting.

Ohio State has the pair this year, but they may have seen their spare enter the transfer portal last month. Redshirt sophomore Dallan Hayden transferred to Colorado, leaving the RB room a little top heavy.

Henderson and Judkins are the experienced headliners, but behind them are a pair of true freshmen in James Peoples and Sam Williams-Dixon, and third-year walk-on TC Caffey. It’s still a very talented room, but Hayden’s experience was a bonus that is no longer available.

Peoples and Williams-Dixon were elite prospects who could have gone to any number of different schools, and to hear his coaches tell it, Caffey is not your typical walk-on.

Seeing all of these guys on the field for the first time this spring was new Ohio State offensive coordinator Chip Kelly. He had read the bios, but he was more interested in learning about his young running backs first-hand.

“Yeah, James really flashed early for me, not knowing again what the background is, where they’re from, who they are. Did this guy have this stars, this guy have that stars. They’re all Buckeyes,” Kelly said after last month’s spring game.

First impressions are generally lasting impressions, but Kelly saw a lot more than that over the course of 15 spring practices. With the departure of Hayden, James Peoples, Sam Williams-Dixon, and TC Caffey all moved up a peg, and the depth chart just got a lot more real for each guy.

“I think James has got a really good feel and vision. He can hit things,” Kelly said. “I thought Sam did some really good things. TC is another guy who really came along during the spring. And we’re constantly talking in our staff meetings about them. We’re very cognizant of the fact that the playoff situation has changed.”

With the College Football Playoffs expanding from four teams to 12 teams, the season just got expanded to 16 or 17 games for a team playing in the championship game. It is only one or two more games than the Buckeyes would have normally had to play in a playoff year, but few teams are all that equipped to continue playing another game after playing in the CFP Championship Game.

“So you have to develop that depth,” Kelly said. “It used to be have a pair and a spare, is what everybody says. But I think you may have to have more than that. You’re talking about 16, 17 games. You’re really going to be tested that way. So I was really happy with how those young guys have come along here in the 15 training sessions that we’ve had.”

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