Ohio State running back Master Teague III recovers from Achilles’ injury

Joey Kaufman
Ohio State running back Master Teague III, breaking free against Florida Atlantic last September, recovered from an Achilles tendon injury suffered in spring practice and would have been ready to play Thursday against Illinois had the season not been canceled.

Had the Big Ten not called off its fall football season three weeks ago, Ohio State would have been preparing to face Illinois on Thursday in its first game.

It was an opening matchup that likely would have featured running back Master Teague III, despite once-low odds.

Six months ago, he injured his Achilles tendon during a spring practice, jeopardizing his status for the start of the season and prompting the Buckeyes to add Oklahoma graduate transfer Trey Sermon as support for a backfield seeking to replace J.K. Dobbins.

But Teague had made enough of a recovery during the offseason to position himself to see the field in Week 1.

“They got him on a schedule to be ready,” said his father, Corey Teague. “Based on his recent work and his healing, he got there and he would have been playing first game and ready to go. He would have been able to go through fall camp and all that.”

In snippets of pre-camp workout videos released by Ohio State in late July, Teague was running at close to full speed and was “doing everything” in practices, Corey said.

The Buckeyes never progressed to padded practices as the start of their preseason training camp was cut short last month after only a few days.

Without much of a ramp-up period ahead of a season, Teague never had much of an opportunity to test out the progress of his lower leg in a scrimmage or similar game-like setting.

The cancellation was an abrupt ending for all of the Buckeyes players, but especially Teague. He was poised to step into a larger role as a redshirt sophomore in helping replace Dobbins and had spent months in a daunting recovery process that was at times altered by the coronavirus pandemic.

During a couple of weeks in March, the athletics facilities at Ohio State were closed, leaving Teague to undergo rehabilitation in his apartment under the virtual supervision of a trainer.

It required some resourcefulness without the advantages of a standard rehab space.

For one exercise, Teague arranged assorted kitchen items on a towel that was placed on the floor, then dragged the towel as he sought to rebuild strength in his Achilles tendon.

“He was doing whatever you could do,” his father said.

Teague ultimately restarted rehab at the Jameson Crane Sports Medicine Institute by late March, pushing to return for the fall even as uncertainty hung over the season due to the pandemic.

“It is hard,” Corey said. “Master’s disappointed. But he's also the type of kid, too, who’s like, ‘How do I get better in this situation, even though I'm not playing right now?’ ”

Most of the running backs meet at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center for individual drills and workouts.

It mirrors the time they spent training together at local fields for a week in July after the campus facilities were closed due to positive COVID-19 cases.

Teague, who rushed for 789 yards and four touchdowns as Dobbins' backup last fall, is still preparing for whenever the Buckeyes might play in the months ahead.

Corey said he expected a big year from his son before the season was scrapped, and he spoke at a protest organized by other parents of players on Saturday, urging the Big Ten to reconsider its decision to cancel games.

But he acknowledged one of the most important considerations. It might not materialize in games, but Teague at least recovered without a setback and remains ready to play.

“He’s good, he’s healed, he’s not injured anymore,” Corey said. “That's first and foremost. But then to take that, go out and contribute and help his team, we look forward to seeing that.”



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Master Teague III, trying to elude Wisconsin safety Eric Burrell last October, rushed for 789 yards and four touchdowns as the backup to J.K. Dobbins.