Bean Counting Could Net Higher Yield In '08

The numbers show that Chris "Beanie" Wells took a while to grow into his role as the starting tailback at Ohio State last year. Sunday, Wells said the same thing. This season, he is attempting to make sure that the Buckeyes get last year's second-half Beanie for an entire campaign.

When Chris Wells went into the beginning of last season as the Ohio State football team's top running back, he had already piled up a fair share of accomplishments.

He had been compared to Jim Brown, perhaps history's greatest rusher of the football, by his position coach, Dick Tressel. He had been ranked a five-star prospect and the No. 1 running back in his class by Scout. He even had a highlight reel touchdown run against Michigan a year earlier.

What he didn't have was confidence.

"Last year, at the beginning of the season, I wasn't confident at all," Wells said. "It was a big difference from being on the field periodically to being on the field all the time."

It wouldn't be all that surprising if the 12 teams on Ohio State's schedule felt some terror at reading that quote. If Beanie's performance last year showed a player getting used to being on the field, then the mind is boggled wondering just how much better he could be this year.

Last year, Wells ran for 91.7 yards per game, 5.4 yards per carry and a total of six touchdowns over the Buckeyes' first seven games. Then, as the Buckeyes' ascended to No. 1 in the nation and faced a five-game Big Ten gantlet to finish the regular season, Wells exploded.

While still battling health issues in the form of a banged up wrist and ankle, he toted the ball an average of 26 times per game over OSU's final six games (including the bowl game). During that span, he averaged 161.2 yards per game, gained 6.2 yards per carry and scored a total of nine touchdowns.

Wells said that improvement could be attributed to an increase in comfort with being the No. 1 guy.

"The more games we played, the more I was out on the field, the more confident I became," he said. "The more you do something, the more you're going to become comfortable doing it."

That end-of-season run – highlighted by 221 yards against Michigan State, a record-breaking 222 against rival Michigan and a 65-yard touchdown run on the first series of the national title game against LSU – has Wells firmly on most observers' Heisman Trophy watch lists. His 2007 totals of 1,609 yards and 15 touchdowns don't hurt, either.

But after telling reporters in the spring that he wouldn't mind having a Heisman or two, Wells toned down that talk Sunday now that fall camp had arrived.

"It's an honor and a blessing, but that's something I'm really not focused on right now," said Wells, who added that no one from the athletic department has approached him on promoting a possible Heisman run. "Before I said it was on my mind, but now it's dimmed down a little bit. It's getting close to the season and I'm ready to play football."

The first people he'll go up against are his teammates, who probably enjoyed the respite from having to tackle the bruising 6-1, 237-pounder during the spring. Wells does provide Ohio State's stop troops with some benefit, though, as he has all the tools to give the defense a look against any type of back.

"I've definitely never played against a guy like Beanie," linebacker Marcus Freeman said. "I think a lot of times you either get a smaller, quick back or a bigger, powerful back. Beanie, I think, is a big guy that has it all together. He's fast and he's quick, but he's very powerful and he has a deadly stiff arm."

When he does hit the practice field, Wells will be doing so for the first time in a while. After the national title game, last year's mounting injuries forced Wells to undergo surgery on his wrist that kept him out of spring football. While he was on the shelf, he said he learned from watching backups Maurice Wells, Brandon Saine and Boom Herron.

Still, the tailback wanted to play so badly that he spent portions of the jersey scrimmage running sprints along the sideline.

"It was really rough because you know a guy like myself wants to be on the field all the time," he said. "When I can't be on the field, it's a down moment for me."

Summer, on the other hand, was time for hard work. Just as he did during the 2007 summer, Wells worked out twice each day – once in the morning and once in the afternoon – as part of the team's offseason conditioning work with director of football performance Eric Lichter. He also spent time attempting to improve his stock in the locker room.

"I really didn't change anything, routine-wise," Beanie said. "I just became more of a vocal leader. I really wasn't a vocal leader like I should have been (before that). That comes with maturity."

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