Ohio State Football: Breaking Down the Running Back Room for Home Stretch


TreVeyon Henderson scores a touchdown vs. Penn State in a Big Ten East showdown.
TreVeyon Henderson scores a touchdown vs. Penn State in a Big Ten East showdown.

With the Ohio State Buckeyes sitting at 8-0 and 5-0 in conference play, it is hard to complain about much. A big win on the road against Notre Dame and a tough home battle with Penn State have led the Buckeyes to one of the most impressive resumes in all of college football.

When a team looks as well-rounded as Ohio State has, the biggest issue can be obvious. The issue of injuries has been a problem for the Buckeye offense, specifically the running back room. Let’s take a look at all the players who have featured in the Buckeye backfield, with the regular season two-thirds complete.

TreVeyon Henderson: The junior standout burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2021 finishing with 1,248 rushing yards on 6.8 yards per carry and 15 touchdowns. He added 27 catches, 312 yards, and four touchdowns through the air in his first season with the Buckeyes. 2022 featured injury issues as he finished with just 571 yards on the year, and the injury woes have continued this season. Henderson worked his way into the first four games of the year as he saw yardage increase each game.

After posting 47 yards in week one and 56 yards on just five carries in week two, he quickly burst back onto the scene. He had 88 yards and 6.8 per carry against Western Kentucky followed by 104 yards and 7.4 yards per carry against Notre Dame. He found the endzone five times in four games, but an injury kept him out for three games plus the bye week. Against Wisconsin in the Buckeyes’ most recent outing, he looked like his healthy freshman-year self, posting 24 carries, 162 yards, and a touchdown, and added four catches and 45 yards in the passing game.

When healthy, which he looked like last game, Henderson will see most of the touches in his likely final season before declaring for the NFL. Every time he touches the ball there is the big-play ability, and his quick moves and speed make him RB1 for the Buckeyes the rest of the way.

Chip Trayanum: The senior and Ohio native has had a different path than the others on this list. He started his career with Arizona State, where he had just 692 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in his two seasons with the team. Last year was his first at Ohio State, but he saw more of the same production issues with just 15 carries and 92 yards. He has seized the opportunity this year and has been the only Buckeye running back to play in every game.

Trayanum has five carries in every contest, including 20 against Maryland. He has games of 61, 57, and 56 rushing yards on the year, is averaging 4.1 per carry, and has found the endzone three times. He has been a feisty and strategic runner and will continue to receive the ball due to his play thus far.

Dallan Hayden: The talented sophomore is likely to be redshirted this year according to head coach Ryan Day, but with Henderson, Trayanum, and Williams all out against Purdue, Hayden was called upon. In his only game this year, he showed his speed and agility en route to 76 yards on just 11 carries, along with a touchdown. Buckeye fans should be familiar with Hayden’s game due to his play as a freshman. He posted 108 yards and a touchdown in just his second career game and had other big performances in conference play.

Against Indiana, he had 102 yards and a touchdown followed by 146 yards and three scores the following week against Maryland. Hayden averaged 5 yards per carry last season, and with all three running backs ahead of him gone next year, it will be his job to lose if he stays.

Xavier Johnson: The Cincinnati native and “Block O” recipient is not listed as a running back but makes plays whenever he touches the ball. The senior wideout has 16 carries and six catches on the year and is an emergency option that can make some plays on the ground. He had 151 yards receiving and 146 yards rushing last season, finding the endzone three times. Johnson has games of 29 and 39 yards rushing on the year and averages 6.1 yards per rush. The veteran presence is a selfless player who may be called upon for more trickery for the Ohio State ground game.

With all five options being called upon throughout the 2023 season, they will all continue to be needed to take pressure off the passing attack which has suffered injuries themselves. If they can do that, there is no reason Ohio State can’t go all the way.

**UPDATE: Miyan Williams will NOT play for the rest of the season due to a procedure. The Ohio native has spent all four seasons with Ohio State, but saw just ten carries his freshman season in 2020. 2021 brought some more opportunity as he earned 71 carries, 507 yards, and two touchdowns in Henderson’s first season. His best season was last year when Henderson fought through injuries, as he posted career-highs all over the stat sheet. His 128 carries, 825 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns were career-highs and will almost certainly be better than this year’s production.

Williams has also missed games this year as he didn’t play against Purdue or most recently against Wisconsin. Williams has seven or fewer carries in five of the six contests he’s featured in, and his best game was his most recent. Against Penn State, he had just 2.6 yards per carry but had some key runs leading to 62 yards and a touchdown. As long as Henderson or Trayanum are healthy, Williams will likely be the second or third option but is great in short-yardage situations.