Ohio State Football position previews 2024: Running Backs

The Ohio State football team is loaded up at the running back position in 2024 with two of the top backs in the country.

TreVeyon Henderson
TreVeyon Henderson / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

This is the third in a series of articles that I will be submitting as position group rankings of the 2024 Ohio State Buckeyes, from least concerning to most, based on my perceptions. These articles will conclude the week of the 2024 Ohio State Spring Game, scheduled for 1 pm ET on April 13th. As always, I encourage you to let me know what you think and let me know if you believe I have missed anything key in my analysis.

9th - Wide Receivers

8th - Defensive Backs

7th - Running Backs

Players Lost: Xavier Johnson (eligibility ended + 2024 NFL Draft), Evan Pryor (via transfer portal to Cincinnati), Chip Trayanum (via transfer portal to Kentucky), Miyan Williams (2024 NFL Draft declaration)

Players Returning: Dallan Hayden, TreVeyon Henderson

Player Arriving Via The Transfer Portal: Quinshon Judkins (from Mississippi)

Freshmen Participating In 2024 Spring Practices: James Peoples, Sam Williams-Dixon

Why This Ranking?

Prior to the news that TreVeyon Henderson was going to return to Ohio State, as well as the news that Quinshon Judkins was going to transfer to Ohio State, the Ohio State running back position group was perilously thin going into the 2024 season.

The losses of Chip Trayanum to Kentucky via the transfer portal, combined with Xavier Johnson (Johnson was used as both a receiver and a running back by Ohio State) and Miyan Williams entering the 2024 NFL Draft certainly hurt, but Henderson and Judkins will offer established talent at a crucial offensive position.

Henderson has repeatedly demonstrated the type of "home run hitter" capabilities throughout his career at Ohio State, while Judkins has shown his ability to be the workhorse of the Ole Miss offense, as evidenced by his 545 carries for 2725 yards and 31 touchdowns on the ground. The key for Ohio State will be keeping both players healthy, and that leads me to my next point below...

"A Pair And A Spare", Plus

Former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel used to say that Ohio State needed "a pair and a spare" when it came to tailbacks. Looking at the depth chart, with Henderson and Judkins, Ohio State has the "pair" portion accounted for, and the "spare" could certainly be used to describe Dallan Hayden.

Hayden has always played well when given the opportunity (for reference, see the 2022 Maryland game or 2023 at Purdue). Now it will be a case of how much Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and new Ohio State offensive coordinator Chip Kelly want to use their talented running backs.

After all, Kelly's offenses have traditionally been very successful at running the ball, at both the college and NFL levels, and Ohio State certainly has aspirations of playing long into the season, with the newly-expanded College Football Playoff adding multiple potential games at the end of the season. It will be crucial to keep the "pair and a spare" healthy and fresh for a (hopefully) lengthy playoff run.

Will Ohio State Redshirt Their Freshmen Running Backs?

As I wrote above, proper roster management is going to be a concern for Ohio State in 2024. It is possible for freshmen to play in up to four games, and still be redshirted. Here is another wrinkle to contemplate, and that is postseason games do not count against eligibility. In other words, James Peoples or Sam Williams-Dixon could play in four games at some point in 2024, be redshirted, and then potentially be used in the College Football Playoff. Peoples and Williams-Dixon are both on campus and will be going through spring practices that begin on March 5th.

Considering the stakes, it may be more practical to play Peoples and Williams-Dixon more during the regular season, thus negating the redshirt. Henderson is in his last year of eligibility, and both Judkins and Hayden will be eligible to enter the 2025 NFL Draft, after the season.

It may make more sense to keep Henderson, Judkins, and Hayden fresh for the latter portion of the season while getting Peoples and Williams-Dixon some much-needed game experience prior to the (hopeful) playoff run, as well as preparing both of them to be the primary ball carriers for the 2025 season.