On the surface, there appears to be a clear pecking order in the Ohio State running backs room. Sophomore TreVeyon Henderson emerged as the No. 1 option out of the backfield early last season and will carry that distinction into the 2022 regular season, but the order of business gets muddled after that.
During the spring and into fall camp, Miyan Williams and Evan Pryor have found themselves engaged in a competition for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart. While Williams carries plenty of in-game experience into the contest, Pryor has made a name for himself with a strong spring camp — which was capped off by a breakout performance in the annual spring game on April 16.
Although Williams and Pryor are battling for the right to see the field more often, the former said the unit has placed more attention on improving together rather than putting each other down.
“None of us are focused on beating each other out. We try to build each other up and whoever gets the chance to go in there we just cheer him on,” Williams said. “But then when it’s our turn we just keep the train rolling and try to do everything we can.”
Williams saw his role diminish over time during the 2021 season, starting the campaign as the No. 1 running back before seeing his carries dwindle following Henderson’s explosive performance against Tulsa in Ohio State’s third game of the season. He rushed for 508 yards and three touchdowns on 71 carries in 2021.
With his 5-9, 225-pound frame, Williams is known more for his prowess in short-yardage situations, opening up a power-back role that will likely be placed upon him.
“They want me to be the power back. The third-down back — the one who goes in on third down with 2 yards to go,” Williams said. “Tre and Evan are more the breakaway backs.”
While Williams is known for his forcefulness, Pryor’s strengths lie more in his athleticism. Standing at 5-10, 198-pounds, Pryor relies on his speed and acceleration to shake defenders.
This year’s spring game also showed off Pryor’s versatility in the passing game, as he provides quarterback C.J. Stroud with another set of surefire hands out of the backfield. Pryor hauled in four receptions for 44 yards while adding 62 yards and a touchdown on the ground against the Buckeyes’ defense on April 16.
After receiving a redshirt last season, Pryor acknowledged that he’s still one of the younger guys in the room and recognized that he needs to earn his spot on the field.
“I feel like I’ve paid my dues. I feel like I’m still paying my dues in a way. I had a good spring, but I’m still kind of young around here, about to go into to my actual freshman season,” Pryor said. “There are some older guys who have been trying me sometimes, but it’s good. It’s all competition. I love the guys.”
As Ohio State’s season-opener against Notre Dame is less than four weeks away, running backs coach Tony Alford said the competition will take care of itself and all three Buckeyes will likely find their way onto the field at some capacity during the campaign.
“I say the same thing every year, I get asked the same question every year, and it’s going to be the same answer every year. But those guys all deserve to play, so I’ve got to make sure that they’re all ready to play because they all have shown the capacity and ability to play winning football here for Ohio State,” Alford said.