Guilford Enjoys First Game Action

Freshman running back gets five carries in latter stage of OSU's season opening win.

It has been a baptism by fire for OSU freshman running back Ira Guilford.

The Buckeyes recruited Guilford, listed at 6-0, 190 pounds, as a defensive back out of Hoboken, N.J. But when starting tailback Maurice Clarett was sidelined with a suspension, the OSU staff asked Guilford to begin his career as a running back.

Injuries to juniors Maurice Hall and Lydell Ross gave Guilford all of the work he could hope to have early in preseason camp. It was so much work, in fact, that running backs coach Tim Spencer had to pull Guilford off the field when he thought the freshman had been battered enough.

All of that hard work paid off as Guilford logged his first game action as a Buckeye in the team's 28-9 win over Washington Saturday night. He entered the game in the fourth quarter and netted 2 yards on five carries against UW's first-team defense.

"It was real exciting," Guilford said afterwards. "You dream about this kind of thing your entire life. Then, when you get in there, you've just got to keep your focus and remember the plays.

"I just feel like today was about experience. I played my first college game and had my first shot of being in there. I feel next time I will make some plays and make some things."

With Clarett's status still uncertain, Guilford knows he must gear up to play. If something would happen to Hall or Ross, Guilford knows he could be called upon.

"Running against our defense every week definitely helps," he said. "I am definitely preparing myself for that. Just being in there with our defense is rough every day. But it's making me into a better player. I see it as an advantage I have that a lot of people don't."

As for his future on offense or defense, Guilford said, "I'll go wherever they need me to be and do whatever I need to do to play."

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