Entering Saturday’s contest against Rutgers, Ohio State had largely utilized the one-two punch of running backs TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams through its first four games.
Despite all indications that the duo would fully be intact against the Scarlet Knights, it was announced just minutes before game time that Henderson’s status was in doubt. Henderson was ultimately held out, opening the opportunity for Williams to carry the load in the Buckeyes’ running game. Williams did not disappoint, producing a career-best 189 yards on 21 carries while tying the program single-game rushing touchdown record with five.
With attention to Williams’ historic day, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day emphasized that Williams performed well for the Buckeyes in his start.
“Watching the film, he was our player of the game on offense. I thought he ran hard,” Day said. “He ran really well.”
Williams not only received Player of the Week recognition from his coaches but also became the third Buckeye this season to be named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, joining C.J. Stroud and Marvin Harrison Jr.
Through five games, Williams leads the Buckeyes in rushing yards (497) and touchdowns (eight), while dashing for an average of 7.8 yards per attempt — ranking second in the NCAA behind East Carolina’s Elliott Mitchell, who has only carried the ball 46 times compared to Williams’ 64.
Williams arrived in Columbus as a three-star recruit out of Winton Woods High School in Cincinnati and was largely an underrated prospect for the Buckeyes’ 2020 class. While Williams flew under the radar in regards to his recruitment, Day emphasized the aggression that Williams ran with was something that stood out to him and the rest of the staff.
“(Running backs coach) Tony (Alford) watched him run. (Offensive coordinator) Kevin Wilson saw him play live in a game. We just felt like he ran really hard,” Day said. “Maybe he wasn’t as highly recruited, but we just felt like we saw something in this kid from Cincinnati who ran hard. Winton Woods has a great winning tradition, they’re a great program and they produce really good football players. Being from Ohio means a lot and so we want to always invest in Ohio guys.
“We certainly saw the talent in him, but it was mostly the way he was built — he’s low to the ground — his vision and his power running the ball.”
While Williams has certainly grown on the field since his recruitment, Alford emphasized that he’s also proud of the strides he’s made as a man since joining the Buckeyes.
“He’s becoming more confident in his own skin,” Alford said. “I’ve definitely seen him mature as a young man, as you would expect, especially in this program. But, he’s been through a lot. That guy has had a lot of personal challenges in his life and he’s been through so much, I’m extremely proud of the young man he has become.
“He’s a guy that this entire program leans on and loves,” he continued. “As you get to know him, he’s got the kindest, biggest heart. He cares about his teammates. He’s a consummate team guy. He’s fun and engaging. He brings so much value to the running back room, just with his infectious attitude.”