An Exciting Toy

The Ohio State coaching staff has decided that Curtis Samuel is too good to simply backup Ezekiel Elliott. As a result, the sophomore is getting work at a number of positions this spring.

When he first looked at backup running back Curtis Samuel, new Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford was excited about the possibilities.

“He’s explosive,” Alford said. “Literally the first drill we did in winter conditioning I blew the whistle and he did something. I remember I turned and looked our intern and said, ‘What the hell was that?’ It was like a flash and I just started laughing.

“I sat down in a meeting and coach said, ‘What did you think of Curtis?’ I said, ‘Holy smokes, that guy has got some explosive, fast-twitch fibers in his body.’ He’s a playmaker and he can do a lot of things with the ball in his hand. He’s an exciting toy to have.”

He’s so exciting, in fact, that Alford won’t have that toy all to himself. Samuel has been identified as a Top 5 playmaker by head coach Urban Meyer, and the staff is experimenting in varying ways to get the New York native on the field. Samuel has been working out with the wide receivers and H-backs throughout spring practice in order to get on the field next fall as incumbent Ezekiel Elliott expects to get most of the carries at the running back position.

“The days of Curtis Samuel playing 10 plays are over,” Meyer said Tuesday. “It’s our job to get him on the field for 40 or 50 plays. With Zeke coming back healthy and all that, just have him stand on the sidelines and watch Zeke play is not right. I think that’s what we do best. I think that’s one of the fun parts of coaching. You have these checkers that are really attractive to you and how you can use those guys, he’s a really good one.”

As a true freshman, Samuel spelled Elliott throughout the 2014 season. He finished with 383 rushing yards and six touchdowns and was seventh on the team in all-purpose yards with 724.

Last season Samuel showed flashes of what coaches’ hope will be the norm this year. He scored two touchdowns on the ground in a blowout of Kent State. Samuel had a season-long run of 34 yards against Rutgers and against Illinois, a game he started over Elliott, he finished with 63 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Those spurts combined with his efforts this spring have shown Meyer and the staff that Samuel needs the ball in his hands. Sitting behind a Heisman candidate in Elliott is no way for him to make an impact this fall so Alford’s potential toy has also been sitting in on wide receivers meetings with assistant Zach Smith.

“He’s been back and forth between (meeting rooms), which is great for him learning the offense and the concepts,” Alford said. “It’s been good for Curtis because he is really learning the game of football, which is going to lend credence to him really being able to do a lot of things and be a multiple, multi-dimensional type player. It’s good for him.”

The Buckeyes are hoping that moving Samuel around to get him the ball more will be good for them too.

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