When Master Teague went down with a leg injury at the start of spring practice, that left the Buckeyes with just Steele Chambers’ as the team’s only healthy full-time running back on scholarship.
So often in college football, an injury to a player provides an opportunity for another. Due to the physical nature of the sport, “Next man up” is the working title of most college football seasons. When somebody goes down, someone else steps up and takes those reps.
When Teague went down, Chambers stepped up and assumed reps with the ones. This was a pretty big jump for a guy who was the No. 4 or No. 5 running back the season before as a true freshman. Chambers played in four games, rushing for 135 yards on 19 carries, and maintained is redshirt.
He was fourth in rushing yardage and carries among the Buckeye running backs last year, with redshirt freshman Master Teague and true freshman Marcus Crowley both playing in more games and outrushing Chambers.
Being third in production in a trio of freshmen running backs is a good way to be pushed to the back of the line, but he found himself all alone in line this spring. Until things were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that is.
It was going to be a big spring for a running back who may have been overlooked by some, but despite the missed opportunity, Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford is still quite confident Chambers is moving in the right direction.
“He wasn’t overlooked from within our walls. But yeah he was anticipating getting a ton of reps, as we all were, and he was excited about that,” Alford said. “But in the reps that he did have, I think that he’s growing up.”
Practices may be done and gone, but it’s not like the players are on their own without any contact with the coaches. There are still team meetings and there is always contact between players and position coaches.
There may not be much film to watch from spring, but Alford is seeing what he needs to see from Steele Chambers.
Standing 6-foot-1 and standing 220 pounds, Chambers is a bigger back than the Buckeyes have had in the past. He’s also a versatile athlete, as many schools liked him at linebacker as well.
What Alford also likes about him goes beyond the physical. The desire to be the best stands out as well, which is going to be what allows him to grow the most right now as a player.
“The maturation process, you can see. Just sitting in the meeting rooms, he’s more vocal,” Alford said. “He’s always been very attentive. He’s a highly motivated guy, very hard on himself. He’s almost, I don’t like to use the word perfectionist, but I’ll use that word.
“So he’s a guy that you can see he’s gonna be a good football player. He’s a big, big back. He’s a big guy and wants to improve on his skills. So yeah, I thought the first couple, two or three practices that he was showing that he has definitely improved from the fall, as he should.”