Buckeyes may use two tailbacks to replace Wells

Published 2:26 am Tuesday, April 21, 2009

COLUMBUS — With Chris ‘‘Beanie’’ Wells gone, Ohio State’s coaches may go to a tailback tandem.

In other words, using Dan ‘‘Boom’’ Herron and Brandon Saine — individually or sometimes even together — might offset the loss of Wells’ massive production.

‘‘The thought I’ve had is that this may be the most comfortable situation — to really use two backs, like the pros are,’’ Buckeyes running backs coach Dick Tressel said Thursday.

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Wells was a picture of polar opposites the last three years for the Buckeyes. To his teammates and observers, he was a smiley kid with a sunny disposition who always seemed upbeat and slow to anger. Yet on the field he sought out collisions, had a flare for the dramatic and liked nothing more than to belittle a defender by straight-arming him aside or jumping completely over him.

Two years ago he went for 1,609 yards. Last season he rushed for 1,197 yards despite missing 3 1/2 games with a foot injury. Then he elected to give up his senior year to jump to the NFL draft, where he is projected to be a mid- to late-first round pick.

Herron had some success when filling in for Wells while he was out early last season, gaining 439 yards. Saine was a budding star two years ago before he tore a knee ligament and later twisted an ankle, then petered out last year because of two more debilitating injuries.

Now they are the only two scholarship tailbacks in Ohio State’s spring camp.

They may play the same position, but they are decidedly different.

Herron, who is charitably listed at 5-foot-10 while carrying 198 pounds, is a physical runner who is versatile. He doesn’t mind grinding out the hard yards up the middle, but can also cut to the perimeter for yardage.

Saine, who is 6-1 and 217 pounds, is the speed back, a former sprint champion in high school who has had few chances to flash his quickness because of those problematic injuries.