Meyer Expects Jordan Hall to Fill Hybrid Role This Spring
By Brandon Castel
Call it the Percy Harvin role.
Call it the pivot or the hybrid position or the “No. 3.” Call it whatever you like, but the Buckeyes didn’t have it a year ago.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“It” being a guy who could line up somewhere other than tailback and take an inside handoff, or catch a quick screen and zip 80 yards. They tried to use Corey Brown, a former high school running back, in that role a few times last season.
It never really fit him.
Not the way Urban Meyer designed it to look when he created the position for his offense years ago. It was even before he coached Percy Harvin at Florida, although Harvin was really the player who perfected the role during both of Meyer’s national championship seasons in Gainesville.
Meyer also had a hybrid receiver/tailback at Utah by the name of Paris Warren. Coincidently, Warren was a transfer from the University of Oregon who racked up over 2,200 yards and scored 19 touchdowns during Meyer’s two years in Salt Lake City.
“Those were perfect body types,” Meyer said last fall as the Buckeyes prepared to open fall camp.
“Great acceleration, great speed, but also a toughness and strength to them where they can hit it inside.”
Photo by Dan Harker
That was something Meyer did not have during his first season at Ohio State. At least not in the fall after Jordan Hall cut his foot on a piece of glass over the summer, an injury that sidelined him for all of fall camp and the first two games of his senior season.
“I felt in the spring he was the only guy who could make someone miss,” Meyer said Sunday during the Buckeye Cruise for Cancer.
“We do a lot of make-you-miss drills. Our offense is based on space and getting guys in the open field. I didn’t see Carlos Hyde do any of that in the spring, but he became a great player.”
With Hall on the shelf for 10 weeks, Hyde emerged as Ohio State’s feature back in 2012. He ran for 82 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the team’s 56-10 win over Miami University to open the season, but most of his damage came in the months of October and November.
The junior out of Naples, Fla. rushed for 442 yards and eight touchdowns in just four games in the month of October. That included a 140-yard, four-touchdown performance against Nebraska.
He was even better in November, racking up 370 yards and six touchdowns on the ground in just three games.
“He’s really good,” Meyer said Sunday. “I mean like really good. He had a bad reputation (when we first got here). He was kind of lazy but Carlos Hyde has turned into a grown man.”
That 6-1, 235-pound grown man ran for 970 yards and 16 touchdowns last season, despite missing nearly three full games with a knee injury. It was a strong enough season that he, at least momentarily, considered making an early jump to the NFL.
With Hyde back for his senior season, and a trio of young backs behind him in Rod Smith, Bri’onte Dunn and Warren Ball, the Buckeyes have found a new role for Jordan Hall.
It’s the same role Meyer first envisioned for 5-9 back out of Jeannette, Pa. last spring.
“We moved Jordan Hall to H,” Meyer clarified Sunday as the Buckeyes prepare to open spring practice on March 5.
“He’ll be a captain again. He’s a tough guy, a great kid, a leader. So he’s going to be the H with Dontre Wilson and Jalin Marshall.”
Hall is back for a fifth year after receiving a medical redshirt for last season. He played in only three games during his fourth year in the program, carrying the ball a total of 40 times for 218 yards and a touchdown.
Wilson and Marshall are both newcomers to Ohio State, but they were considered two of the most dynamic high school athletes in the country a year ago. Marshall, a former high school quarterback out of Middletown, was one of the first players to join Ohio State’s 2013 class last January.
Wilson was one of the last. The All-American out of DeSoto, Tex. flipped his commitment from Oregon to Ohio State after Chip Kelly left for the NFL. Meyer sees both guys being capable of filling that hybrid “No. 3” spot in the offense.
“If they turn out to be what I think they are, that’s some legitimate stuff,” Meyer said with a scheming smile.
“Then you have Philly Brown we’re moving out to the Z and Devin Smith at the X.”
With that group on the field to surround Braxton Miller, yet another Heisman Trophy candidate for Meyer a the quarterback position, the Buckeyes could be looking at an offense that is much more diverse and much more explosive than the one during their 12-0 season.
“We didn't have the home-run hitter explosiveness, open-space players on offense,” Meyer said back on National Signing Day.
“Some guys really grew up and did a good job for us. Philly Brown did a nice job, but we don't have enough. When you run an offense where you can split guys all the time and you only have one or two, that's not enough.”
Not for a guy who stays up at night scheming up ways to get the ball in the hands of his best playmakers.
“I think we're starting to get a little bit of that built up,” Meyer added.
“Where now you have a Jalin to put out there, and Dontre can play that. Now you can break the formation a little bit and have guys in space.”
These guys may not be Percy Harvin, but they don’t have to be. Meyer is building a whole new thing in Columbus. Maybe some day soon they will call it the Dontre Wilson role.
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