Graduate transfer RB Trey Sermon commits to Ohio State

Joey Kaufman
The Columbus Dispatch

Running back Trey Sermon, who is leaving Oklahoma as a graduate transfer, committed to Ohio State on Sunday.

Sermon will be immediately eligible for his final season in 2020.

“I’m excited that he committed,” his mother, Natoshia Mitchell, told The Dispatch. “Actually, he wanted to come to Ohio State out of high school. But he ended up going to Oklahoma. I’m excited that he’s back where he wanted to go.”

The addition also bolsters the Buckeyes’ depth at running back, which took a hit during the week of spring practice held earlier this month. Master Teague III, their leading returning rusher, injured an Achilles tendon, leaving his status uncertain for this fall.

Teague’s setback came as Ohio State was already attempting to replace J.K. Dobbins, who became the program’s first 2,000-yard rusher last season before leaving for the NFL, bypassing his senior season.

Over three seasons with the Sooners, Sermon rushed for 2,076 yards and 22 touchdowns, averaging 6.1 yards per carry. He also caught 36 passes for 391 yards and three touchdowns.

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But he never emerged as the primary back for Oklahoma. In each of the previous two seasons, Kennedy Brooks had the most carries among the running backs. Brooks was returning for next season, as well as Rhamondre Stevenson, the Sooners’ second-leading returning rusher last fall, though he is suspended.

Sermon’s season was cut short last year when he suffered a knee injury in November, casing him to miss the final five games.

His best stretch came in 2018, when he appeared in all 14 games and was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection while rushing for 947 yards and 13 touchdowns

He previously visited Ohio State in 2016 during his recruitment as a four-star prospect out of Marietta, Georgia, before settling on the Sooners.

The Ohio State coaching staff’s recruitment of Sermon as a graduate transfer this month did not involve any visits.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA has suspended in-person recruiting, preventing recruits or any other prospective players from taking official or unofficial visits to schools. 

All communication between coaches and players is limited to phone calls, text messaging and social media messaging.

Sermon first entered the transfer portal, an online database, earlier this month, a decision he publicized March 14.

Sermon hopes to enroll at Ohio State in May, according to his mother, after graduating from Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in human resources.

The arrival could also depend on when organized team activities resume after they, along with spring practice, were suspended through at least April 6. The Woody Hayes Athletic Center also remains shut down.

Once the team reconvenes, Sermon could be the front-runner to start at running back, depending on the timing of Teague’s recovery.

Sermon’s mother said it would likely be another month before he returned to full strength. 

Trey Sermon, seen here in a September 2019 game, has committed to Ohio State

Redshirt freshman Steele Chambers was the only available scholarship running back participating in spring practice because sophomore Marcus Crowley, who was third on the depth chart last season behind Dobbins and Teague, was still recovering from a knee injury suffered last November against Maryland.

Freshman Miyan Williams has been scheduled to arrive with the rest of the incoming class in summer to round out the rest of the running back room.

Beyond Sermon and Teague, no other Ohio State running back has more than 25 career carries.

Sermon could enjoy a sort of full-circle moment with the Buckeyes.

He scored his first college touchdown at Ohio Stadium in his second game as a freshman in 2017.

Early in the fourth quarter of the Sooners’ 31-16 win over the Buckeyes, he caught a 10-yard touchdown from Baker Mayfield that extended their lead.

Dispatch Reporter Bill Rabinowitz contributed to this report.