As a true freshman last season, running back Master Teague carried the ball in three games, all of which came in the first four contests for the Buckeyes in 2018.
It was a typical rookie season for an OSU running back. Playing behind JK Dobbins and Mike Weber doesn’t really lend itself to many carries, after all.
Prior to the Rose Bowl, Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford said that Teague had gotten stronger throughout the year and made improvements in his overall game as well.
This spring, Teague continued that process of improving, and is closer than ever to being a Buckeye running back who can be called upon in any situation.
“You can tell he’s much more settled, much more comfortable in his own skin, if you will,” Alford said this spring. “There is a toughness factor that he has become a lot grittier, grimier-type player and finishing things off more. And just his knowledge of what’s going on around him has allowed him to play faster. I’m very pleased with what he’s done.”
With Weber off to the NFL, the Buckeyes are looking for a reliable backup to Dobbins. This spring, that battle was mostly contested by Teague and true freshman Marcus Crowley. This fall, fourth-year junior Demario McCall is expected to be in the mix, and incoming true freshman Steele Chambers may have something to say about it as well.
Whoever does win the job, however, will have the upper hand on replacing Dobbins in the starting lineup if he decides to head to the NFL following the 2019 season.
That’s still a long way off, however, and Alford is only worried about preparing his room for this year.
And the growth that he saw from Teague has him perhaps breathing a bit of a sigh of relief.
“There’s some tenacity, some toughness that he has shown this spring that quite frankly took him a little bit of time to grow into that,” Alford said. “And that’s not a bad thing. Some guys go at a different rate. JK was at a faster rate of speed as far as his ability to bite and attack things. He was a little faster. That’s not a negative toward Master or anybody else. That’s just the growth maturations are different for guys and the timing that they do it.”
Given that Dobbins is on the smaller side for running backs, somebody like Master Teague at 5-foot-11 and 220-some pounds might be exactly the kind of short-yardage complement the Buckeyes need. That possibility as a power-type back is also why there was such a need to make sure Teague had the toughness to get it done.
And with Teague’s speed and balance, along with the addition of his toughness, he could become one of the more dangerous running backs in the Big Ten this season.
In high school, Teague was known as a guy who could find a crease and go the distance. But in college football, those creases aren’t as prevalent as they were in high school. There are times when the running back has to make his own creases. The improvement that Teague made in that area has Tony Alford looking forward to even more production from his young tailback in 2019.
“Master Teague is a totally different guy now than what he was midseason, and even towards the end of the season,” Alford said. “And he knows that because we’ve told him that. You watch him today, he’s putting his face on people.”
Having now gone through two winters and two springs at Ohio State, Teague knows exactly what is required of him. His ability to meet those requirements will dictate how much playing time he sees in 2019.
If the spring was any indication, you can expect to see Teague quite a bit this year.