The Breakdown: Running Backs

Our pre-camp look at each position on the Ohio State roster moves on to the running back position. The Buckeyes have always been known to have excellent players toting the rock, but this year's squad might be known mostly for its depth, and more help could be on the way.

3 – Brandon Saine
6-1, 219
Piqua, Ohio
Career: Ohio's top prep player as a senior in high school, Saine immediately burst onto the scene at Ohio State with 10 carries for 42 yards and a touchdown vs. Youngstown State in his first game in 2007. He then had a touchdown catch against Akron and ran for another score against Washington, but he suffered a knee injury that required surgery and short-circuited his campaign. He finished the year with 267 yards rushing on 60 tries (4.4) while catching 12 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. Injuries hurt Saine in 2008 as he was held to 26 rushes for 65 yards (2.5) and a score. Finally healthy for the most part in 2009, Saine started the final nine games, compiling 739 yards on 145 carries (5.1) and adding four touchdowns. Still versatile, he placed third on the team with 17 catches, amassing 224 yards and two touchdowns.

Standout Performances: Caught three passes for 69 yards, including a big 44-yard snag, in the BCS National Championship Game vs. LSU in 2007. … Ran 17 times for 113 yards vs. Indiana in 2009. … Scored twice and ran for 103 yards on only 11 carries in the Rose Bowl-clinching win vs. Iowa. … Had 12 carries for 84 yards and a TD one week later vs. Michigan. … Had two big catches down the right sideline for 59 yards and a touchdown vs. Oregon in the 2010 Rose Bowl.

Honors And Accomplishments: OSU's outstanding offensive first-year player in 2007. … Shared the Rex Kern Award for outstanding back at OSU in 2009. … Selected second-team All-Big Ten in 2009 by the league coaches and media.

Outlook: Saine figures to continue to share carries with Dan Herron and a host of talented younger backs in 2010, but his versatility – Saine can block, run, and catch – could help him separate from the pack. Naturally quiet, Saine is also expected to be a leader on the field in 2010.

Player Comment: "As I've gotten older I've learned a lot of things and I can teach a lot of the young guys some of it. I'm definitely more of a lead-by-example kind of guy. I'm not going to yell at anybody or get in their face and try to tell them what to do. I might be able to pull somebody aside and talk with them, but I definitely try to lead by example. I'm not a yeller. I might yell at my dog sometimes. That's about it."

1 – Dan Herron
5-10, 202
Warren (Ohio) Harding
Career: After entering in the same class with Saine, the man known as "Boom" redshirted in 2007. The knowledge he gained that season allowed him to be ready a year later for lots of playing time when both Saine and Chris Wells battled injury. Herron finished 2008 with 89 rushes for 439 yards (4.9) and six touchdowns then saw his numbers rise to 600 yards on 153 carries (3.9) while adding seven touchdowns as a co-starter during an injury-plagued 2009.

Standout Performances: Rushed eight times for 80 yards and two touchdowns against Michigan and added a late score among his five carries in the Fiesta Bowl loss to Texas late in the 2008 season. … In 2009, scored twice against Illinois, finishing the game with 75 yards on 14 carries, and was the team workhorse against Michigan, rushing 19 times for 96 yards.

Honors And Accomplishments: Shared the Rex Kern Award for outstanding back at OSU in 2009. … Won the Jack Tatum Award for making the best hit of the week against USC in 2009.

Outlook: A back who doesn't usually hit the big play instead to provide steady work with no big mistakes, Herron can expect to split time near the top of the running back depth chart in 2010.

Player Comment: "I'm going into my fourth season. It definitely feels like I'm ready to be a leader. You see a new class come in every year. It's just like, ‘Wow, I'm getting a little bit older.' "

7 – Jordan Hall
5-9, 195
Jeannette, Pa.
Career: A high school teammate of Terrelle Pryor, Hall carved out playing time as a true freshman in 2009, finishing the year with 48 carries for 248 yards (5.2) and a touchdown.

Standout Performances: Ran for a career-high 90 yards in a reserve role against New Mexico State. … Scored his first career touchdown against Minnesota.

Outlook: Small and quick, Hall boasts good vision and solid explosion. He showcased those tools in a limited role in 2009 and could expand his playing time with a good camp, but carries will be hard to come by given the crowded backfield in 2010.

Teammate Comment: "Jordan, he's a great back. He might look small if he walks by you, but he's one of the strongest of the group. He might have the strongest bench out of all of us. He's able to hide behind the linemen and he's really shifty." – Saine

4 – Jaamal Berry
5-10, 200
Miami Palmetto
Career: Berry was redshirted in 2009 after suffering injuries during camp and the season. The coaching staff seemed ready to play him midway through the season but one final injury ended his campaign with a redshirt year.

Outlook: Berry was a highly touted four-star back coming out of Miami in the class of 2009 and runs with skill and tenacity. Perhaps the most talented back of the group, Berry will get carries in 2010, but just how many will be up to his play in fall camp. Like Hall, Berry is a breakout candidate if everything shakes out right for him.

Coach Comment: "What you're seeing out of Jaamal Berry right now is the ability to have a little burst and a little juice, but he hasn't played. He still has to go through a learning curve. You're seeing the talent but you're seeing a guy progressing through a learning curve." – Running backs coach Dick "Doc" Tressel

41 – Jermil Martin
5-10, 235
Cleveland Glenville
Career: A late addition to the 2008 class, Martin redshirted as a fullback that season before converting to tailback in 2009. There, he carried the ball 11 times for 84 yards (7.6) and a touchdown, an impressive 39-yard scamper against Minnesota.

Outlook: Martin has been a subject of transfer rumors, but an Ohio State spokeswoman told that he was still enrolled at OSU as of July 19. He showed impressive nimbleness for a big guy in limited cameos in '09 but faces a long climb up the depth chart.

34 – Carlos Hyde
6-0, 238
Naples, Fla/Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy
Career: Hyde, Scout's No. 1 fullback in the class of 2008, spent 2009 at Fork Union because of academic issues before arriving for '10 spring ball. He ran six times for 26 yards in the spring game.

Outlook: Another big body, Hyde has talent but – like so many others here – will have to see how things break when it comes to playing time. Depending on what happens with Martin, the Buckeyes could be lacking a true short-yardage brute ahead of Hyde, perhaps giving him an angle to playing time in 2010.

Coach Comment: "He's really interested in being a really good football player. He plays with a low profile, and I think that's an interesting deal. It'll be fun to watch him." – Doc Tressel

24 – Roderick Smith
6-3, 220
Fort Wayne (Ind.) Paul Harding
Career: Smith was a four-star tailback and the No. 8 player at his position in the 2010 class, running for 1,855 yards and 19 scores as a senior. He is his prep conference's career leader with 6,625 yards and 66 career touchdowns (eighth-best in Indiana prep history).

Outlook: Smith is missing summer workouts with an academic issue head coach Jim Tressel expects to be cleared up by fall. In a crowded running back room, that might be enough to keep him from playing time in 2010.

35 Bo DeLande (5-11, 195): Now in his fourth season, DeLande provides practice depth. The hero of Hilliard (Ohio) Davidson's 2006 Ohio Division I championship team, DeLande ran three times for 5 yards last year in his first playing time.

Committed for 2011 – None

2011 Prospects – None

Top 2012 Prospects Warren Ball, Columbus DeSales, 6-2, 200; Brionte Dunn, Canton (Ohio) GlenOak, 6-2, 220.

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