Chris Hoad, a senior at the University of Texas Permian Basin, finished his last game in style thanks to an act of kindness from his sophomore teammate John O'Kelley. USA TODAY


COLUMBUS - Sizing up the running backs room at Ohio State is a matter of perspective.

If you're a glass half full guy, you're not really worried about life after J.K. Dobbins because the room looks like it could be filled with four good options.

sg飞艇appThere's Trey Sermon, the graduate transfer from Oklahoma who rushed for more than 2,000 yards for the Sooners.

Or third-year sophomore Master Teague, who finished seventh in the Big Ten in rushing last year as a backup to Dobbins, with 789 yards and 4 touchdowns at 5.8 yards per carry.

sg飞艇appOr sophomore Marcus Crowley, who averaged a gaudy 9.5 yards on 25 carries as a true freshman.

Or redshirt freshman Steele Chambers, who played in four games last year without burning a year of eligibility and had 135 yards on 19 carries, a 7.1 average.

It wouldn't be fair to expect anyone to duplicate Dobbins' school record 2,003 yards last season, but if you extrapolate their numbers over a full season, with a starter's workload, it's not hard to envision any of the four being a 1,000 to 1,500 yard rusher.

sg飞艇appBut then there's the glass half empty guy who, with the exception of Chambers, sees a room full of walking wounded. 

sg飞艇appSpring practice lasted only three days because of the coronavirus-triggered shutdown, but it didn't even last that long for Teague. He suffered an Achilles injury in the first practice. Ohio State has not disclosed the extent of the injury or if it required surgery.

Crowley suffered a torn ACL against Maryland last Nov. 9. And Sermon came to Ohio State as damaged goods after a knee injury cut his junior season short. He was already an afterthought in 2019, with no more than 11 carries in a game for Oklahoma, before getting hurt in November.

Let's not forget, too, that Brian Snead, the nation's third-ranked back in the 2018 recycle, was dismissed from school late that year after an investigation into sexual misconduct.

So what exactly will Ohio State have in that running back room once football activity resumes on campus? At worst it looks like the Buckeyes would be a tailback-by-committee.

sg飞艇app"I said this when J.K. was here with Mike Weber. We don't have any preconceived idea of running one guy," running backs coach Tony Alford said. "We have to get them all ready and prepared to play. We're going to do whatever we need to win games. If that's the committee approach, that's fine. If it's not, it's not."

sg飞艇appRehabbing from an injury is even more challenging since this isn't a normal off-season, but Teague and Crowley have been able to continue working with head athletic trainer Shaun Barnhouse at the Jameson Crane Sports Medicine Institute on campus.

sg飞艇appAll indications are that both are making steady progress. It's unclear if they will be ready if there is a fall camp, but Sermon expects to participate.

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Teague and Crowley, said Alford, "are both doing well in rehab and they're attacking this thing the way that we want them to and the way we'd expect them to. So I'm kind of at their mercy. They'll tell me when they're ready. The medical staff, they'll let coach (Ryan) Day and myself know what we've got. But indicators are they've been doing a nice job and they're on schedule."

sg飞艇appSermon's transfer from Oklahoma filled a need after the Teague and Crowley injuries left the Buckeyes with only one healthy back on scholarship (Chambers) heading into the spring.

sg飞艇appAlford believes the relationship he fostered with Sermon when recruiting him in Georgia helped them reconnect this spring.

sg飞艇app"When this thing came about and he entered the portal and we felt we had a need, he was a guy we reached out to," Alford said. "And I would like to think the relationship he and I fostered three years ago kind of played a little part in this as well. But we're anxious to get started with him. We're happy to have him. We expect him to come here and compete and help this football team the best that he can."

Alford, like his running backs room, can be seen through different lenses.

sg飞艇appFairly or unfairly, he got most of the criticism for Ohio State missing out on some of the top running back talent the last three years. Take the 2020 class: Strike one, No. 1-ranked Bijan Robinson. Strike two, No. 7-ranked Kendall Milton. Strike three, No. 11-ranked Jaylan Knighton.

At one point, Robinson was considered a lock to sign with Ohio State.

sg飞艇appThe only back in this year's class is Miyan Williams, who OSU circled back to after the top-tier prospects fell through. Williams rushed for nearly 6,000 yards for Cincinnati Winton Woods, but is considered only a 3-star prospect.

Ironically, Alford was getting flak for his recruiting at the same time he was coaching Dobbins to an unprecedented season. 

sg飞艇app"A lot of kids ask what the depth chart looks like. Who's there?" Alford said. "That's part of (landing or losing a recruit), I assume. Every situation is different.

sg飞艇app"We're very honest and truthful here. There's going to be competition in every single room. The (recruits) want to talk about the NFL. Every time you walk into an NFL room, guess what? There's some dudes in that room.

sg飞艇app"Everywhere you go, there's going to be players. If you want to compete at a high level every single day, these are the guys we're going to go after. If guys want to embrace that, they'll flourish."

sg飞艇appAlford's luck changed over two weeks in March. He reeled in the nation's No. 1 running back in TreVeyon Henderson and the No. 6 RB in Evan Pryor as part of the No. 1-ranked 2021 class. He's now the front-runner to be named 247Sports National Recruiter of the Year, an honor that went to OSU receivers coach Brian Hartline last year.

sg飞艇appSo what happened?

"They said yes," Alford joked. "I don't know. I'm not going to lie to you. I get tired of talking about last year to be frank with you. Good, bad or indifferent.

sg飞艇app"I didn't change my approach one bit. You go after guys you think can help your program. You try to do the best you can to build relationships.

"As far as recruiting top quality players, great players want to be around other great players. Quite frankly, these players (committed to OSU) have done a great job of recruiting one another."