Three-Headed Monster

With so much talk about Ted Ginn and Troy Smith, the potency of the Ohio State running backs is often overlooked. This year's OSU team boasts three talented and distinctively styled running backs that will be giving opposing defenses headaches all year long.

USC rode their thunder-lightning combo in the backfield last season, LenDale White and Heisman Trophy Winner Reggie Bush to a near National Title before lightning struck in the form of Vince Young.

But with White and Bush in the NFL in 2006, Ohio State is hoping to take that kind of running attack one step further.

As freshman running back Chris Wells provided the thunderous carries for 50 yards, a touchdown and a couple of monumental short-yardage runs, sophomore back Maurice Wells similarly provided some lightning – i.e., a 30-yard reception out of the backfield. Although Wells and Wells alone would not be confused for the successful Trojan tandem, there's a not-so-forgotten man in Ohio State's plans.

Antonio Pittman.

Quietly Pittman accounted for 1,331 rushing yards last season as a sophomore. That total was good for No. 10 all-time on Ohio State's single-season rushing list. Not bad for a back that can't even find an acceptable title for a three-headed monster in the Buckeye backfield.

"I'm the large one," Pittman joked after last Saturday's 35-12 victory against Northern Illinois. "I'm a beast."

The self-described beast did manage 111 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown. Last season, Pittman's first of seven rushing touchdowns didn't come until game No. 8, a 45-31 explosion against Minnesota.

Although some of Pittman's touchdown chances are going to be taken away by his new partner in crime from Akron, Ohio, looking at the bigger picture, Ohio State will be rushing to the chance to find time for all three backs.

"If we can keep those guys healthy through the course of the year," said Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel, "it is going to be a tremendous bonus to have Antonio, Mo and Beanie."

The trio, to which Tressel is hoping can stay healthy, has high aspirations of exceeding the production White and Bush had at USC last season.

That's a lofty goal, to say the least.

"We respect the combination USC had but we're trying to start something different," Pittman explained. "USC had the big back and the speedy back. We have a little speedy back, a big old back."

But there's still the matter of a nickname for Pittman.

"I can't call it," Pittman said laughing.

Whatever name teammates think up for Pittman to go along with the Buckeye version of thunder and lightning, they're certainly in awe of the backfield.

"It's just amazing to have that many weapons in the backfield," said wide receiver Brian Robiskie.

While Pittman made a name with his breakout sophomore campaign, the younger Wells already had high expectations going in to Ohio State.

The freshman was the No. 1-rated back and player in the country by Scout.com in the final recruiting rankings for 2006. Meanwhile, the Garfield High School star made a big splash in his first game.

"I thought his debut was excellent," Tressel said on Tuesday at the press luncheon. "There are some fundamental things he needs to get better at, but he's not alone."

Meanwhile, Ohio State is in good hands with whoever is toting the football.

"It's good to have three guys who can get the job done," said Ohio State center Doug Datish. "It makes our jobs easier up front."

It's not really a matter of where thunder or lightning will strike next. It's just a matter of when Pittman will find a name.

Until then, he too can let the stats do the talking.




Buckeye Sports Top Stories

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\r\n","mobileBody":"USC rode their thunder-lightning combo in the backfield last season, LenDale White and Heisman Trophy Winner Reggie Bush to a near National Title before lightning struck in the form of Vince Young.

But with White and Bush in the NFL in 2006, Ohio State is hoping to take that kind of running attack one step further.

As freshman running back Chris Wells provided the thunderous carries for 50 yards, a touchdown and a couple of monumental short-yardage runs, sophomore back Maurice Wells similarly provided some lightning – i.e., a 30-yard reception out of the backfield. Although Wells and Wells alone would not be confused for the successful Trojan tandem, there's a not-so-forgotten man in Ohio State's plans.

Antonio Pittman.

Quietly Pittman accounted for 1,331 rushing yards last season as a sophomore. That total was good for No. 10 all-time on Ohio State's single-season rushing list. Not bad for a back that can't even find an acceptable title for a three-headed monster in the Buckeye backfield.

\"I'm the large one,\" Pittman joked after last Saturday's 35-12 victory against Northern Illinois. \"I'm a beast.\"

The self-described beast did manage 111 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown. Last season, Pittman's first of seven rushing touchdowns didn't come until game No. 8, a 45-31 explosion against Minnesota.

Although some of Pittman's touchdown chances are going to be taken away by his new partner in crime from Akron, Ohio, looking at the bigger picture, Ohio State will be rushing to the chance to find time for all three backs.

\"If we can keep those guys healthy through the course of the year,\" said Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel, \"it is going to be a tremendous bonus to have Antonio, Mo and Beanie.\"

The trio, to which Tressel is hoping can stay healthy, has high aspirations of exceeding the production White and Bush had at USC last season.

That's a lofty goal, to say the least.

\"We respect the combination USC had but we're trying to start something different,\" Pittman explained. \"USC had the big back and the speedy back. We have a little speedy back, a big old back.\"

But there's still the matter of a nickname for Pittman.

\"I can't call it,\" Pittman said laughing.

Whatever name teammates think up for Pittman to go along with the Buckeye version of thunder and lightning, they're certainly in awe of the backfield.

\"It's just amazing to have that many weapons in the backfield,\" said wide receiver Brian Robiskie.

While Pittman made a name with his breakout sophomore campaign, the younger Wells already had high expectations going in to Ohio State.

The freshman was the No. 1-rated back and player in the country by Scout.com in the final recruiting rankings for 2006. Meanwhile, the Garfield High School star made a big splash in his first game.

\"I thought his debut was excellent,\" Tressel said on Tuesday at the press luncheon. \"There are some fundamental things he needs to get better at, but he's not alone.\"

Meanwhile, Ohio State is in good hands with whoever is toting the football.

\"It's good to have three guys who can get the job done,\" said Ohio State center Doug Datish. \"It makes our jobs easier up front.\"

It's not really a matter of where thunder or lightning will strike next. It's just a matter of when Pittman will find a name.

Until then, he too can let the stats do the talking.

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