Spring can be a crucial time of year for college football programs. As the old saying goes, you can’t win a national championship during the spring, but you can lose one.
That can be true of individual players as well. You usually can’t lock down a role for the season during the spring. But a bad spring can bury a player on the depth chart and make it harder to get on the field in the fall.
The next three weeks are going to be very important for redshirt freshman running back Master Teague.
“I know it’s a big spring for me specifically,” Teague said.
He has a clear path to being a major part of the 2019 Buckeyes’ run game. With Mike Weber gone, there are a lot of carries available for someone new to take.
That could be Demario McCall, who is looking to finally break through.
Some of those could also go back to Justin Fields, if he’s the starting quarterback. He has flashed explosive running ability in practice, and could take carries away from the running backs.
But Teague is a top contender to take that role as well. He’s doing everything he can to seize it, including improving his conditioning.
He missed some of the team’s offseason workouts due to injury, but is back and in better shape than a year ago. He said he’s put on a few pounds of muscle.
“I can just tell that I’ve gotten stronger,” Teague said.
Running backs coach Tony Alford has seen it in Teague as well, both physically and mentally.
“His growth has been immense as well, and his maturity level of how he plays. He’s not just kind of sitting on the side kind of taking it as it comes. He’s much more aggressive,” Alford said.
With a full year of college now under his belt, Teague said he has a much better grasp on the Buckeyes’ entire offense.
“Last year, for me, I didn’t know too much. I just knew what I was supposed to do and that’s basically it,” Teague said.
“This year, really learning a lot more things, I feel a lot more comfortable with what the other positions are doing, really what the O-line is doing and blocking schemes and things like that. So it’s a lot more comfortable now.”
That might not seem like a big deal. Why would it matter if the running back knows what the wide receivers are doing?
“People that really know the game and really know what’s going on can have an idea of what’s going to happen so they basically already know what the play’s going to look like, what they’ll do,” Teague said. “If you’re just reacting off of it, you’re going to be slower.”
This week marks the halfway point of the spring football schedule. So far, Alford says Teague is making the most of that “big spring.”
“He’s running harder, he’s much more aggressive, he knows exactly what’s going on,” Alford said. “He knows this offense. He’s engaged in the meetings. He always kind of sat back, but now, ‘this is what this is’ he can get up and teach it. So I’m really pleased with where he is right now.”