Hyde still paying dividends

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Last updated: 06/26/2014 0:40 AM
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Football
Carlos Hyde Will Pay Dividends for the Buckeyes Long After Leaving for the NFL
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A year ago, Carlos Hyde had a season for the ages. As the Buckeyes' bruising and reliable clock-puncher, he battered defenders like a Twinkie at a state fair, eventually deep-frying defenses into gooey submission.

He rushed for 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns, and had he not been suspended for the first three games of the season, there is little doubt that he would have been in New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.

Carlos Hyde
Photo by Jim Davidson
Carlos Hyde

A nightmare for defenses, it was the kind of season that a running back dreams of, and now it is the type of season that Urban Meyer will use to impress running back recruits.

For years opposing coaches on the recruiting trails have been able to point to Meyer's record with running backs and how he's never had a 1,000-yard rusher. I wrote about this fact shortly after he was hired at Ohio State, and it was a criticism of Meyer that he had heard plenty of times from recruits, parents, coaches and hangers on.

Now, however, that criticism has been given the ultimate answer.

A coach from Michigan or Penn State or Alabama can no longer tell a recruit that, sure, Ohio State is a nice school, but you'll never get to be the workhorse that you'd be at our school.

If you choose Ohio State, get ready for 10 carries a game if you're lucky, and enjoy blocking for your quarterback who will be running the ball more than you ever will.

If an opposing coach puts doubt into a running back recruit's mind about what he would be able to do in Ohio State's offense, Meyer or running backs coach Stan Drayton need only point to Hyde's performance against the Big Ten last season.

In nine games against conference opponents, Hyde rushed for 152 yards per game -- 1,367 yards total. He topped the 100-yard mark in eight straight games and carried the OSU offense like a rickshaw.

If that doesn't entice a running back, then he's not cut out for the Big Ten anyway.

But it's not just what Hyde did, it's also how he did it, how long it took him to do it, and where he came from to get it done.

For a running back, patience is an absolute virtue, and patience is something that Carlos Hyde certainly showed in his time as a Buckeye. His last season of high school football was 2008 and he spent 2009 at Fork Union Military Academy.

When he finally did make it to Columbus, he carried the ball just 24 times in 2010. He started the first three games of the 2011 season, but that was only because both Boom Herron and Jordan Hall began the season suspended.

After carrying the ball 39 times in the Buckeyes' first two games, it would take him six more games to match those same 39 carries.

Once Herron returned, his touches disappeared almost completely. Despite rushing for 105 yards against Indiana, Hyde would touch the ball just 13 times in Ohio State's final four games -- all losses.

It was as frustrating a season for Hyde as it was for the 6-7 Buckeyes that year. With a new coach coming in -- especially one with Urban Meyer's reputation for never having a 1,000-yard runner -- it wouldn't have been a surprise to see Hyde move on. After all, he still had a redshirt season available.

But he stayed. Then 2012 began and due to injury he carried the ball just 35 times in the Buckeyes' first five games.

It was that fifth game in 2012, however, where things began to turn for both Hyde and the Buckeyes. That was the Michigan State game. That's when the Buckeyes became a team. Not coincidentally, that's also when Carlos Hyde began his tour of punishment on the Big Ten. 

In the 16 games against Big Ten opponents following that MSU game, Hyde rushed for 2,179 yards.

It took him a while to finally get his shot, but when it came, he throttled that opportunity completely, getting every last ounce of possibility from it.

If you look at the 10 best running backs in the 2015 class, half of them have visited or plan to visit Ohio State. For a tailback, it is impossible to ignore what the Buckeyes have done on the ground over these last two seasons.

In just about every way, Carlos Hyde is the perfect recruiting pitch for a coach. He dealt with a lack of playing time, injuries, and a suspension, and all he did was follow through on the promise that his abilities provided him.

Instead of the yearly talk of Meyer landing the "next Percy Harvin", there is now actually talk of landing the "next Carlos Hyde".

Basically, when Meyer speaks with a recruit, he can show them a real-life account of if you just keep your head down and put in the work, even though it may take longer than you want, the end result that you desire is absolutely attainable at Ohio State.

Yes, High School All-Americans want to play right away, and some surely will, but that's not the most common path.

Like all running backs, sometimes you have to make your own path, and now that Carlos Hyde has made his, others will be sure to follow.

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