Chris Wells Glad He Made Early Jump To OSU

Chris Wells was Scout.com's top overall prospect in high school football in 2005. But he has already made some headlines in 2006 after enrolling early at Ohio State so he could participate in spring football. The 6-2, 225-pound Akron Garfield product did not disappoint, logging 11 carries for 48 yards and hauling in one memorable pass in OSU's spring game on Saturday. Click here for more on Beanie Wells.

Few players have entered Ohio State with more hype in recent years than tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells.

The 6-2, 225-pound Wells graduated early from Akron Garfield High School, where he rushed for over 2,100 yards as a high school senior. Wells, the nation's top prep prospect according to Scout.com, enrolled early at Ohio State so he could participate in spring football.

Dick Tressel, his new position coach at OSU, went so far as to liken Wells to the legendary Jim Brown.

So it was under this microscope that Wells took the field with his teammates on the Scarlet team for Saturday's Scarlet and Gray Game at Ohio Stadium. And Wells made a strong impression in his first public showing in an OSU uniform. He carried the ball 11 times for 48 yards and also had one memorable pass reception for 9 yards.

Afterwards, OSU head coach Jim Tressel summed up Wells' performance.

"What was impressive to me was that he looked like he did this whole spring, which was comfortable, patient, the ability to accelerate," Tressel said. "That's a big guy to have the ability to accelerate. He wants to help, but he also knows he's got some guys like Antonio and Mo and Erik who are good, too, and he's going to have to compete.

"We were very happy with him today and for the whole spring."

Wells met with the OSU media for the first time ever following the game. He was glad to get his first public appearance at the Horseshoe behind him.

"Today was just another learning experience for me, to get out there and get the vibe with all the fans and just get out there and play," Wells said. "I think I did OK today. But there are just little things here and there I can improve on."

Wells discussed getting the chance to play before an OSU spring game record of 63,649.

"It was wild," he said. "I could barely hear the plays. It was loud. I can just imagine how it will be for a real game."

Wells talked about his decision to graduate early from Garfield and enroll at OSU in time for spring drills.

"It was the best thing I could have ever done in my life," he said. "If I had come in late, I probably would have had to redshirt. This helped me get in here and learn the system and get a feel for the plays.

"The first day of spring practice, I was lost," he said. "I think we put in more plays in three days than we did in my entire high school career. I feel pretty confident and comfortable with everything I learned, but I know I have to do a lot of improving.

"There are a lot of great athletes on the field. It is the best against the best at all times. It's good for me to get in there with my competitive nature."

Wells entered the game on his team's second series in the first quarter. He got the ball on the first play, slipping out of a tackle attempt and churning forward for a 7-yard gain. The crowd picked up on Wells' presence immediately and gave him a nice ovation.

"I heard that," Wells said. "That was nice to hear the fans respond like that."

Wells' next carry probably brought a few fans to their feet. He took the give and was hit in the backfield by hard-hitting safety Brandon Mitchell. The hit buckled Wells for just a moment. He put a hand on the ground to regain his balance and then broke outside for a 9-yard gain before linebacker James Laurinaitis and safety Anderson Russell were able to corral him.

"My high school coach and my father always told me I can't go down with the first guy," Wells said. "I'm too big for that. They just told me to roll with the punches and take what they give you."

That play also illustrated Wells' acceleration ability: "I think I can get it outside and make a move and go," he said.

Wells' power was then on display early in the second half. On second-and-8 from the Scarlet 47, quarterback Rob Schoenhoft hit Wells with a swing pass in the right flat and the fun was on. Wells plowed through a pair of defenders, including the 244-pound Laurinaitis, to get 9 yards and the first down.

"The one thing they do stress here is you fight for every single yard you can get," Wells said. "That's what I do. My game is fighting for extra yards."

Laurinaitis discussed the challenge involved in bringing Wells down in the open field.

"Chris Wells is a big boy," Laurinaitis said. "He's a man. Hitting him is a hard deal. We're taught in the open field to sink your hips and give him your chest, which means a guy can run you over. He can run around you or if he goes to run you over, he's going to run you over. He's not just going to lean into you. He'll try to knock you out.

"He's a great runner and I think he's going to be a great back here."

Perhaps the only down side for Wells in Saturday's game was pass protection. At times, he seemed to struggle in identifying his assignment and completing his blocks. But those are mistakes that can be corrected through study and effort.

"I feel comfortable and confident with the plays I learned," Wells said. "There are just some little things like blocking assignments that I have to improve on. Having the football in my hands is the easy part. It's when I don't have the ball and I need to know who to block and where to check down to, that's the hard part."

Wells is in a heavy competition to back up junior Antonio Pittman, a fellow Akron native, at tailback. Sophomores Erik Haw and Maurice Wells are also in that race.

"We're all four great running backs out there," Wells said. "It's just great to be in this position. I came here to help the team any way possible. I don't try to look at it as a competition. When I'm out here with my teammates, I look at it as learning.

"This team has great chemistry. We are all one. Nobody singles anybody out. We're one team here."

Pittman, in particular, has taken Wells under his wing.

"Pitt always treated me like he's my big brother," he said. "He's always been comfortable with me and teaching me. I think I can learn a lot from him. Erik is the same way. They have taught me a lot and been good role models for me.

"I want to see the field, but I also want to learn. I want to learn everything I can from Antonio and Mo. Those guys are great."

Wells talked about getting his first chance to work with Dick Tressel this spring.

"He's the best," Wells said. "I wouldn't want any other running backs coach in the world."

With the depth Ohio State has at tailback, the Buckeyes do not have to put Wells right into the fire. He is OK with that.

"I think that's great," Wells said. "I just want to learn as much as I can from everybody. If they throw me in, that's great, too. As far as I'm concerned, I'm just here to learn and help the team.

"I'm not really worried about next year. I'm just trying to live one day at a time."

And he is glad he made the leap to college life and football a few months early.

"This was a great experience for me," he said. "Thank God I came in early. It was real good. I feel that if I had come in with the rest of the guys, I would have been lost. One thing is just learning the plays. We have an unbelievable number of plays.

"If you can play football, that's cool. But you have to have the mental aspect of the game down, too.

"The average high school student wouldn't understand what it's like out here. It's rough. I don't think the average college student understands how hard it is to go to school and play football. It's tough. I think I've handled everything OK so far. It could be better."


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