NFL draft diary: Former Ohio State RB Trey Sermon on transitioning to pre-draft training

Trey Sermon
Special to The Columbus Dispatch
Former Ohio State running back Trey Sermon runs drills during a recent workout at EXOS training center near Pensacola, Fla., where he has been preparing for the NFL draft.

Trey Sermon strung together some of the best rushing performances in Ohio State history while leading the Buckeyes to last season’s College Football Playoff championship game. 

Then the running back dislocated a shoulder on the opening series against Alabama, sidelining him for the remainder of the title-game loss.  

Over the past two months, he has rehabilitated the injury and begun the next steps in preparation for the NFL draft, which is to be held April 29-May 1. 

In the leadup to the draft, Sermon is chronicling his process, including workouts at EXOS, a training and performance facility in Gulf Breeze, Florida, near Pensacola, that is popular among NFL prospects. Sermon also will take part in Tuesday’s pro day at Ohio State.

He has agreed to provide The Dispatch with a draft diary, as told to OSU beat reporter Joey Kaufman. 

In his first entry, Sermon looks back on his final game as a Buckeye and the start of his professional career. 

Shoulder injury

I remember the first play getting the ball, and then I didn’t really see anything, so I just tried to cut up, a few people grabbed me, and they fell on top of me. And I heard like a pop, a click.

Trey Sermon warms up before the national championship game against Alabama.

I got up, I was moving my shoulder around. It felt funny. The next play, (quarterback Justin Fields) was trying to throw me the ball, and I couldn’t turn or lift my arm up. That’s when I knew something was wrong.

When I was on the sideline, the trainers were like, “OK, we’re going to take you in the back, get some X-rays.” So we went to the locker room. They were feeling around, trying to figure out what was wrong. Then they decided to it was best to just send me to the hospital. I knew I wasn’t going back in the game.

I was devastated. I wanted to play on the big stage. I felt like I had worked so hard leading up to that point. It was devastating to know that I got so far and couldn’t really get to one of my goals, which was winning the national championship.

Just knowing how close I was, we were very prepared. We had a great game plan going in. And I felt like I was ready. It was the most I had prepared for a game in my entire life.

Still to this day, I’m thinking about the national championship game because it meant so much to me. But the turnaround to draft training was quick. As soon as I left the hospital, I flew to Columbus. I was there for two days, really a day and a half, and then I had to fly to Florida to start my rehab at EXOS. To re-shift my focus and kind of turn the page, it was tough. Everything happened so quick.

Senior Bowl

As soon as I got to Pensacola, I was doing mostly rehab and different movements to keep flexibility with my shoulder, just letting everything heal up. Really that was my schedule for the first 2½ weeks I was here. I really didn’t do much speed work or anything like that yet because I needed a little bit more time to let everything heal properly.

The Senior Bowl later in January was a great experience. I met with all 32 teams. I gained some insight into how to improve and how they see me. Because of COVID, it was a little bit different. Each team had their own station. One day we met with maybe 14 teams. The next day, we met with the rest.

Ohio State running back Trey Sermon (8) greatly enhanced his chances at an NFL career with a monstrous postseason, including a 193-yard rushing effort in a national semifinal victory over Clemson in the Sugar Bowl.

You go to each station, and there’s glass between you and the coaches. They were trying to gain information, asking me why I decided to transfer from Oklahoma and how I handled things, what led me to choose Ohio State and what led to my success late in the season.

One question that surprised me, someone asked me, “If you had a superpower, what would you want it to be?” I’m like, “superpower?” That kind of threw me off. I said to teleport.

But mostly they asked me about how I was feeling. At the time, I was still feeling good. I wasn’t in a sling, so that was good. They asked me what the exact injury was, what the recovery was and what I would be able to do at pro day. It was definitely good for them to see that I was moving around fine.

The schedule ahead

My schedule varies, but it’s really just Monday through Friday. After I eat breakfast, I head to EXOS to start a workout. When I first get there, I do a couple of exercises to make sure my shoulder is loose. I start the workout at 9:15 a.m. and we usually finish around 10:45.

After that, I do some position work, then I grab lunch and head back to where I’m staying. If I don’t have an interview with a team, I hop on the Xbox for a bit. I play a lot of Call of Duty, a lot of Madden, and NBA 2K as well.

Trey Sermon listens as performance manager Anthony Hobgood explains a pre-draft workout.

Then probably about 2:15 p.m., I head back to the facility, start the next workout at 2:30 and usually finish with that around 3:45. If it’s Tuesday or Friday, I get a massage at 4:15 p.m. Then I grab my dinner. If I don’t have interviews or anything, then I’m just relaxing. I may walk to the beach or play video games.

In the morning, we usually work on straight-line speed, like 40-yard dash starts, different drills with the 40 to help our technique. Then another day, we’ll work on the cone drill or the shuttle drill or different things to help improve those techniques. The second workout is always lifting or the upper body. Mine is modified right now because of my shoulder, but I’m slowing slowly getting back into it.

I’m pretty much off on Saturday and Sunday and don’t really do too much. I may go eat with Baron Browning. I’ve got some of my Ohio State teammates down here with Pete Werner and Baron.

Trey Sermon prepares for a recent workout at an EXOS training center near Pensacola, Fla.

But for the most part, I’m just chilling or walking on the beach. I’ve been going pretty often lately just because it’s warmed up so much. The beach is really close, literally right across from where I’m staying. If I go out to the balcony I can just look at it. It’s definitely pretty cool.

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman