Ohio State had one of the best seasons in program history last year, and it came with the help of some young players. Now as the younger Buckeyes enter another year for the Buckeyes, they may be expected to take on expanded roles. Lettermen Row is breaking down a play from each key inexperienced Buckeye and how it can help provide a glimpse into each of their futures. Next up: Jameson Williams speed can be big for Ohio State.
COLUMBUS — Just when Marcus Crowley seemed to be getting carries and opportunities for Ohio State, his season was cut short.
The sophomore from Florida was earning late-game carries and working his way into potentially more meaningful action for the Buckeyes when he went down in the late stages of a blowout win over Maryland.
Before the injury, Crowley was starting to flash his potential on the field when he had the chances.
“I think [Crowley and Steele Chambers] are going to be really good players here,” Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford said last season. “They’re hungry to learn, they’re getting better … and they’re learning what college football is all about. Just the attention to detail that’s necessary every single day — and not for just certain spurts within the day, but all day. How important it is to take care of your body and to study the game away from the field.”
Crowley had a full season to watch the on-the-field habits of J.K. Dobbins, study his film routine and learn from the only 2,000-yard rusher in Ohio State history. And with a wide-open running back situation slated for this year, Crowley will get back to 100 percent in time to battle Steele Chambers, Master Teague and graduate transfer Trey Sermon for the lion’s share of carries for one of the best offenses in college football.
Sermon won’t join the roster until after he graduates in May, and he arrives having posted 2,000 career rushing yards and 25 touchdowns from his time at Oklahoma. He will likely be the leading candidate for that starting job. Now with Crowley and Teague on the shelf until their injuries heal, Steele Chambers could step in and find a role. But Crowley should be an important part of the Buckeyes rushing attack whether he starts or not.
Crowley has already shown what he would bring to the offense next season. He now just has to find a way to get healthy and be ready for when the Buckeyes return to the practice field.
The play: Ohio State only played its starters in the first half of the blowout win over Maryland in November, so the second-team Buckeyes had 30 minutes of game action to work with. Crowley made the most of the opportunity.
Crowley had eight carries for 82 yards and his first career rushing touchdown. No run was as impressive as the carry that set up his score, when he took a sweep around the left side, made a cut and dashed into the open field for a 25-yard gain that pinned the Buckeyes at the 1-yard line. They ultimately handed the ball to Crowley on the next play, and he picked up the touchdown.
But the 25-yard run was impressive for the freshman and former Florida Gatorade Player of the Year. He showed a burst of speed. He showed some power and elusiveness. He was beginning to prove he has the ability to play at a high-level for the Buckeyes, but then a knee injury on the next drive ended his season.
He’ll be back next season with more to prove, but Crowley has already given a glimpse of carries to come for the Buckeyes.