As Ohio State coach Ryan Day had a news conference Monday after the start of spring practice, he noted the lack of depth at running back.
Only two scholarship tailbacks participated in the opening workout.
“We're one injury away from a little bit of a crisis,” Day said.
That point arrived the next day.
Master Teague III, the Buckeyes’ leading returning rusher who is widely viewed as the heir apparent to J.K. Dobbins, was ruled unavailable for the rest of spring practice because of an undisclosed injury, a spokesman confirmed to The Dispatch.
The absence leaves the Buckeyes with only one healthy scholarship running back in Steele Chambers, a redshirt freshman, for the remaining 14 spring practices, including the spring game.
Teague participated in workouts Monday in his quest to take over as starter for Dobbins, who set an Ohio State record with 2,003 yards last season. Day gave no indication after the opening practice that Teague had been hurt.
Teague was the backup last season and had 789 yards rushing on an average of 5.8 yards per carry, earning third-team All-Big Ten honors.
Ohio State’s depth at running back had been affected by a few factors before Teague’s setback.
Sophomore Marcus Crowley continues to recover from a knee injury suffered last season, leaving him unavailable for spring practice, and signee Miyan Williams does not enroll until June with the rest of the freshman class.
Crowley is expected to return for preseason camp.
“Once we get to the summer, we'll be whole,” said Day, who stressed “we’re going to be OK” by the start of the season in September.
Day left open the possibility that senior Demario McCall could return to running back after he started out as a slot receiver Monday. It is likely he will split time between running back and the hybrid role, and Day said he had the skill set for both.
“It's something that we've always tried to find, that role for him where he can be a running back and also be a matchup problem,” Day said.
Depth issues prevented McCall from carving out a larger role last season because Dobbins and Teague took the bulk of the carries at running back and K.J. Hill was a mainstay as a slot receiver.
Chambers had 19 carries last season for 135 yards and a touchdown. Because he appeared in only four games, he qualified for a redshirt.
Ohio State completed its nonconference football schedules for 2025 and ’26 with two first-time opponents.
The Buckeyes will play Connecticut on Oct. 18, 2025, at Ohio Stadium. The matchup was announced Tuesday by Connecticut, which said it will receive $1.95 million in guaranteed money from Ohio State. The game will fall between Big Ten trips to Wisconsin and Rutgers.
The Buckeyes will open their 2026 season against Ball State, followed by a visit to Texas and a home matchup with BostoCollege in nonconference games that were previously announced.
Redshirt freshmen Cormontae Hamilton and Cade Stover have switched positions.
Hamilton moved from tight end to defensive line, and Stover went from linebacker to tight end.
“It's a new challenge for these guys,” Day said, “but the skill sets we see, we think there's a future for both of those guys.”
Day said Hamilton had impressed coaches while on the scout team last season and worked with defensive line coach Larry Johnson, prompting his move.
Stover had also been a basketball player in high school, showing enough athleticism and “spatial awareness,” according to Day, that suggested he could be a productive tight end.
Dispatch Reporter Bill Rabinowitz contributed to this story.