The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics about the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about Ohio State and the chances of Trey Sermon claiming the starting job? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.
Do you see this as an opportunity for him to immediately become the starting ball carrier or still seeing competition in the RB group?
— Jordan Kappler (@JRKasaurusRex) March 22, 2020
There is definitely going to be competition in the Ohio State backfield, that’s a given.
No jobs are ever promised even for the most touted transfers, as both Justin Fields and Jonah Jackson can attest. Despite their lofty credentials and the relatively obvious path to playing time that spurred the Buckeyes to recruit those guys in the first place, nothing is ever guaranteed or given without being earned in that program.
Plus, when it comes to the Ohio State depth chart at tailback, there are still a couple talented guys waiting for their shot to take over for J.K. Dobbins, and a healthy Marcus Crowley and motivated Steele Chambers aren’t going to just lay down for Trey Sermon.
But the Buckeyes went out and got the Oklahoma graduate transfer for a reason. And a player with his experience, production and ability to do everything the Buckeyes could want at tailback is going to make him the odds-on favorite to win the starting job whenever football activities resume and he arrives on campus.
That’s not a knock on the guys currently on the roster or even a slight for the potential in freshman Miyan Williams. But assuming there is no delay to the schedule and working under the belief that Master Teague’s torn Achilles is likely to keep him out of the mix through training camp, Sermon is the safest bet. Based on what he’s shown throughout his career with the Sooners, he’s also got a chance to be a truly dangerous weapon alongside Justin Fields in the backfield — and the Buckeyes have already seen up close the damage he can inflict.
“We know, we played against him,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “We saw what he could do on the field. He’s a really good player. … Master [Teague] getting hurt here in the spring put us behind the eight-ball a little bit in terms of depth, and then Marcus Crowley is coming off the ACL. So when Trey became available, we did a lot of research, made a lot of calls, the people at Oklahoma had such great things to say about him.
“Off the field, the people who know him have such great things to say about him. Very good student, he was an Academic All-Big 12. It was hard because we didn’t really have an opportunity to spend face-to-face time with him, but we did the best we could through teleconferencing through the quarantine. We have been building that relationship up, and I’ve been very, very impressed with our conversations. It’s great to get a mature young man like Trey in our program, and I know our team is going to welcome him with open arms.”
No matter what was happening with the pandemic, Sermon wouldn’t have been able to enroll at Ohio State until after his graduation in May. So, he’s not missing anything at the moment while limited to just FaceTime calls with the coaching staff and his future teammates. Physically, he also is still ahead of schedule to be fully cleared after last year’s LCL injury, another reminder that he’s not currently missing out on anything to be ready for his arrival.
It’s entirely possible that replacing Dobbins is a job that requires multiple guys, and Crowley and Chambers are going to be important to the Buckeyes one way or another both this season and into the future. But for now, all signs are pointing to Trey Sermon leading the charge — although he’ll obviously have to earn that role whenever that opportunity comes.
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