‘We both are going to go off’

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The storylines around Ohio State ahead of a highly-anticipated 2022 campaign are simple. Quarterback C.J. Stroud enters the season as a Heisman Trophy favorite thanks to the return of his favorite target, all-world wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Star running back TreVeyon Henderson is the unquestioned starter and looks to build off a record-breaking freshman campaign as a complement to Ohio State’s explosive passing attack. Except Henderson does not view himself as the unquestioned starter. Instead, he believes that Ohio State has two starting running backs thanks to the offseason transformation of Miyan Williams.

(*13*) (*15*) Henderson said, via Bucknuts. “We both are going to go off.”

(*13*) Williams opened 2021 as the starting running back, but Henderson quickly emerged as Ohio State’s best option. Henderson finished with 1,248 rushing yards with 15 touchdowns. He was a weapon in the passing game, reeling in 27 receptions for 312 yards and four more touchdowns. Williams still had a very serviceable second-year campaign, totaling 507 rushing yards (7.1 yards per carry) and three touchdowns.

(*13*) But Ohio State believes the Henderson-Williams combination can be one of the elite running back duos in the country. Henderson is a big play waiting to happen, while Williams can attack between the tackles and be a go-to weapon, especially in short-yardage situations.

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(*13*) “Those guys all deserve to play,” Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford said, via Bucknuts. “They’ve shown the capacity to play winning football for Ohio State.”

(*13*) Alford noted that Henderson has improved leaps and bounds in his first true collegiate offseason.

(*13*) “He’s a pro,” Alford said. “That guy’s mental makeup has always been very strong, but the way he approaches his business when he speaks, it’s business. Respect is earned; well, he’s earned every bit of the respect that he’s getting by the way he carries himself, not just with the staff, but with the entire locker room. I think he’s light-years better than he was. Now how does that translate? Does that translate into yards? There’s a lot of things that you can watch the maturity of but it may not show in yards, it may not show in carries, but it shows in the locker room, in the meeting room.”

(*13*) Williams also changed his body, dropping approximately six pounds and eliminating “bad food” from his diet.

(*13*) “It’s all about that brotherhood that trust, that faith that I know that guy I can count on and depend on,” Alford said. “How do you know? Look what he did to his body. It’s not easy. It’s not easy to transform your body like that. It takes time. So this team, they can look at that and say, ‘OK, here’s what he’s doing to better serve the football program.'”

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(*13*) Make no mistake, Ohio State coach Ryan Day is going to get his best players the ball as much as possible.

(*13*) Henderson totaled 210 touches in 13 games last season (16.1 touches per game). Williams had exactly half of that, averaging 8.0 touches per game. Henderson will continue to be one of the most electric players in the country, but Ohio State hopes that Henderson doubling the touches of Williams is a thing of the past thanks to the offseason improvements.

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(*13*) “Competition is a great deal,” Alford said. “You want to get better? Put a guy in that next chair that’s just as good as you. Every single rep, every single day, every single period of practice, every single week, it matters. When we ask a question in the meeting room, you better get the answer right. That’s a rep. I don’t want that big separation between 1 and 2. I want all of them to push each other from great players to elite players. That’s going to push the room forward. It’s going to transcend itself in the locker room. Those guys are extremely close friends, they all hang out. Are they competing? Absolutely. But they’re the biggest and best advocates of one another. That’s a unique deal that we have in that (running back) room.”

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