Ohio State Football: Hyde's Return Gives Meyer Embarrassment of Backfield Riches

David RegimbalFeatured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2013

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 6:  Carlos Hyde #34 of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrates his fourth touchdown of the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers with less than a minute to play in the game at Ohio Stadium on October 6, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Nebraska 63-38.   (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

When Urban Meyer met with members of the media Friday afternoon and announced that Carlos Hyde would be returning to Columbus for his senior season, Ohio State's backfield became one of the most dangerous weapons in all of college football.

Aside from having a more experienced Braxton Miller orchestrating Urban Meyer's spread offense, the running back position will be loaded with an enormous amount of talent in 2013.

Carlos Hyde's return is just one of many reasons for that.

Running back Jordan Hall will also be back next year after receiving a medical redshirt from the NCAA. Hall missed the first two games of the season recovering from an offseason, non-football related foot injury, and after playing in just three games, his season ended when he tore the PCL in his right knee against Michigan State.

The Buckeyes also have a 4-star running back coming to Columbus with this year's recruiting class in Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliot—who has 4.4 speed—is one of the most explosive running back prospects in the country. Both Rivals.com and Scout.com have Elliot ranked the No. 9 running back in the country while ESPN.com ranks him the 109th best prospect overall.

The speedy back out of St. Louis put together an outrageous highlight reel during his senior season.


Ohio State's depth at running back doesn't end there.

Rod Smith, who might be the most talented rusher on the team, was Hyde's main backup after Hall suffered his knee injury. The soon-to-be junior averaged 6.7 yards per carry during the 2012 season, but his fumbling issue kept his role pretty limited throughout the year. If that problem gets resolved this offseason, it will be hard to keep Smith on the sidelines.

Behind Smith, Meyer has two former 4-star running back prospects in Bri'onte Dunn and Warren Ball.

With all of those running backs in the fold, the return of Hyde almost seems unfair.

Hyde carried Ohio State down the stretch of the 2012 season. When Miller's rushing numbers began to suffer late in the year, Hyde picked up the slack by averaging 123 yards per game during the Buckeyes' three November contests against Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan.

After a phenomenal year where he scored 16 rushing touchdowns and averaged more than five yards per carry, Hyde fell just 30 yards short of becoming the first running back to eclipse 1,000 yards on an Urban Meyer-coached team.

The depth at running back might prevent Hyde from doing so in 2013, but the talent in the backfield is one of the many reasons Ohio State will be tough to beat next year.


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