Midway through his sophomore season, the Buckeyes can not hold a press conference without someone inquiring about the health of the highly touted sophomore from Akron Garfield – and with good reason. After missing much of spring camp with an ankle injury, Wells again suffered an ankle injury during fall camp and missed several weeks of preparation for the season.
That lack of preparation showed early, as Wells struggled to move the ball in OSU's season-opening victory over Youngstown State. He bounced back with his first career 100-yard rushing game with a 143-yard effort against Akron in week two, but re-injured the ankle the next week against Washington.
Since then, the ankle has not been the same and had forced him to come out of the last three games for treatment.
Head coach Jim Tressel has said that Beanie needs to have a "warrior's mentality" when it comes to injury, and the tailback is certainly trying to live up to those words.
Following OSU's 23-7 victory against Purdue in week six, Wells was downcast about his performance. He finished as the team's leading rusher with 18 carries for 85 yards, but he again injured his ankle and had to come out of the game.
When asked if he was pleased with the final result of the game, Wells said, "No, I'm not. I mean, we got a win so I'm happy about that, but I'm not completely happy."
His response when asked what would have made him completely happy?
"Me going back out there on the field.
"I just want to go out there and help the team. I feel like I could've gone back out there and helped the team today. We could've put a couple more points on the board. I wasn't able to do that."
Both Wells and his head coach said that, had the situation called for it, Beanie could have returned to action in the fourth quarter of the Purdue game.
In his place, junior tailback Maurice Wells rushed for a career-high 74 yards on 15 carries. While Maurice and freshman Brandon Saine provide depth at the position, the Buckeyes rely on Beanie to be their workhorse.
At this point, they know their tailback is hurting – and they are fully supportive of him.
"Being a back in a Big Ten backfield whether you're blocking or running the ball and getting as many attempts as Beanie has been getting and carrying a lot of the load for the team along with Mo, you're going to get dinged up," senior fullback Tyler Whaley said. "You play with some really good competition in the Big Ten who can run fast and are really big. I feel for him."
Perhaps the biggest concern about Beanie is that his ankle will not fully heal during the course of the season. The injury is not something that rest will help, however, so he continues to work hard in practice to prepare for games.
"It's looking like it (will last all year)," he said.
A good sign for Beanie is the fact that his injuries are not simply a case of his ankle just giving way as he tries to run. Following the Northwestern game, running backs coach Dick Tressel said that Beanie re-injured his ankle because it got twisted by another player as he tried to move a pile.
"You would hope that he's not going to get his ankle twisted every game, that's for sure," he said, "but I don't think it's a concern that makes you handle him differently as a running back or he didn't do anything different."
Jim has compared the beating Beanie is taking to that two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin had endured during his career.
"Archie Griffin's a warrior," he said. "He's a guy that just kept carrying it, and the stories go he didn't feel real good until Thursday each week. That's the life of a running back, but until you experience it – Beanie's in the midst of experiencing it."
There is some good news concerning his ankle, however – Beanie has not yet limped to the sideline in a situation where it was absolutely critical that he was in the game.
"Usually for some reason when he gets dinged we have a pretty decent lead and we don't want to risk it," senior captain Kirk Barton said. "He's tough. He gets dinged."
It's all part of becoming a warrior, apparently.