'I'm still hungrier than ever.' TreVeyon Henderson not satisfied with record-setting start

Bill Rabinowitz
The Columbus Dispatch

Two weeks ago, TreVeyon Henderson checked one item from his personal to-do list when he broke Archie Griffin’s record for most rushing yards for an Ohio State freshman.

As for what other goals remain this season, Henderson wants to keep that private.

“I can't put that out there,” he said with a smile.

After breaking Griffin’s 49-year-old record of 239 yards by running for 277 against Tulsa, Henderson had a light night against Akron a week ago. Playing only in the first half of the 59-7 rout, Henderson ran eight times for 93 yards and two touchdowns. He leads FBS runners nationally with a 9.5 per-carry average, gaining 439 yards in 46 carries.

As Ohio State gets set to resume its Big Ten schedule Saturday at Rutgers, much of the Buckeyes’ hopes for winning a fifth consecutive conference title rest with Henderson. Ohio State coach Ryan Day made it clear this week that he intends to rely on the Virginia native.

Asked how many carries he’d like Henderson to get, Day said, “Right in the 20-carry range is usually pretty good. But we do have a lot of depth there, too, so we feel we can play some depth and keep him fresh.”

TreVeyon Henderson rising to top of talented running back group

Henderson has emerged from a loaded running back room. Miyan Williams, who flashed in limited action in 2020, started the first two games. He didn’t play against Tulsa before getting nine second-half carries against Akron.

Master Teague was the incumbent entering the season after sharing time with Trey Sermon last year. After not playing against Oregon, Teague played well against Tulsa and Akron.

Day said the rotation behind Henderson is a game-to-game proposition.

“I don’t know if it’s set,” he said. “I think Master ran hard last week, I think he did some really good things, and he continues to build on that. This is a guy who could have gotten frustrated along the way but hasn't. He has just kept working, and I'm very, very impressed with that.

“He's playing good football right now, and he deserves to run. Miyan is practicing a little bit better now and he's working through some things.”

Henderson said the chemistry in the running back room is good, even though the competition for playing time is fierce.

TreVeyon Henderson leads FBS runners nationally with 9.5 yards per carry.

“One thing about our room is that none of the running backs hate on another running back,” he said. “We all just work. We're all proud of each other. We're always supporting each other and picking each other up.”

TreVeyon Henderson ready for a heavy workload for the Buckeyes

As for Day’s 20-carry estimate, Henderson said he’s willing to do what is needed.

“If it's 20, if it's 10, if it's 30, whatever it is,” he said.

Henderson was a five-star prospect and the top-ranked running back in the 247Sports composite rankings, so it’s not as if stardom was unexpected. But he didn’t play last year after Virginia canceled high school football because of the pandemic. Henderson worked out diligently to minimize the rust.

“I expected to play,” he said. “I put in a lot of work. I wanted to get on the field early and it ended up happening.”

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Henderson has gained muscle through work in the Buckeyes’ strength program and is up to close to 215 pounds on his 5-foot-10 frame. That, combined with his speed, elusiveness and vision, makes him a threat to break a long run on almost any play.

“You can see the ability to be special and take the ball from the second level to the third level to score a touchdown,” Day said. “He's a home run threat, and that's good.”

Ryan Day: There are things TreVeyon Henderson needs to work on

Day stressed that it’s not a one-man operation, that the offensive line and threat from the pass game makes everyone more effective. It’s also clear that Henderson’s fumble against Tulsa — recovered by left tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere — isn’t forgotten.

“He needs to, first off, just focus on take care of that football,” Day said when asked what’s the next step in Henderson’s development. “That's the first thing. He's got to take care of the little things in terms of (pass) protection, making the right reads and preparing, just like everybody else.”

Ball security and pass protection are common issues for any freshman running back. Center Luke Wypler said he’s been impressed by the way all the running backs, including Henderson, have done in protecting the quarterback in the pocket.

But pass protection isn’t the reason for the buzz about Henderson.

“He's just a very dynamic talent,” Wypler said. “He's only a true freshman, which is hard to believe. He's going to have a great career. I'm very excited to see what he does.”

So is Day.

“This is just the start for him,” he said. “I think he's better now than he was four weeks ago. I think the whole running back room is, too, and I think it's got to be a strength for us as we move forward.”

These could be heady times for a freshman who's found instant stardom. But Henderson said his life hasn't been turned upside down.

"I'm still me," he said. "My life hasn't changed. I'm still the same dude who's motivated, who's hungry. I'm still hungrier than ever. It's never going to change."



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