Analyzing How Master Teague’s Injury Impacts Ohio State’s Running Backs Room

By March 4, 2020 (2:08 pm)Football
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Ohio State sophomore running back Master Teague will miss the remainder of the spring after suffering an undisclosed injury during practice on Monday morning, and if reports suggesting an Achilles injury are true, he likely be out for an extended period of time.

It’s worth noting, though, that linebackers Tuf Borland and Justin Hilliard also suffered Achilles injuries during spring practice only to return in time for the 2018 and 2019 season openers — and their respective injuries occurred in late March.

In the meantime, Teague’s absence means the Buckeyes will be without their leading returning rusher (789 yards and four touchdowns), as well as sophomore Marcus Crowley, who is working his way back from a knee injury suffered in the 73-14 win over Maryland last November. He was listed as unavailable on the program’s initial spring status report, which means Ohio State will conduct spring practices with just one scholarship running back on the roster in redshirt freshman Steele Chambers.

The 6-1, 220-pound Chambers was a four-star recruit out of Roswell (Ga.) Blessed Trinity Catholic, where he also starred at linebacker. He rushed for just 135 yards and once score on 19 carries during his redshirt season, and suddenly becomes one of the most important players on the roster.

Fifth-year senior Demario McCall — who has spent the majority of his career bouncing back and forth between running back and receiver — is also an option at the position. However, at his size (5-9, 195), he’s only likely to contribute as a situational or third-down back.

The spring roster also includes walk-on players such as senior Mitch Rossi and juniors Xavier Johnson and Robert Cope.

The fact that the Buckeyes will also gain Miyan Williams — a three-star prospect from Cincinnati Winton Woods — over the summer would suggest the team passes on adding another player, even if Teague and/or Crowley miss a portion of preseason camp or aren’t ready for the start of the season. But the transfer portal is certainly an option after Ohio State successfully landed quarterback Justin Fields and addressed a major need along the offensive line by pulling Rutgers graduate transfer guard Jonah Jackson from the portal last offseason.

The only issue with that is Ohio State is currently at the limit of 85 scholarship players and still awaits word on a sixth year of eligibility for wide receiver C.J. Saunders that would put them over said limit. If that happens — or if the Buckeyes add another player through the transfer portal — at least one player from the current roster would need to depart before the first day of fall camp.

“We’re pretty full right now, but you always have to look at it and be a part of it,” head coach Ryan Day said on Monday. “I think that it’s changed. I think probably even three to four years ago it was almost like taboo to talk about something like that. But that’s the way things are going. So you always have to keep an eye on it.”