Thursday, January 8, 2009

OSU Football: Beanie done in Columbus?

Although he wouldn't say whether he would forgo his senior season at Ohio State to enter the 2009 NFL draft, all the signs were there that running back Chris "Beanie" Wells has played his last game in a Buckeyes uniform.

The first sign that this would be his last round with Ohio State came prior to the game, when the Buckeyes ran onto the field for their Fiesta Bowl showdown with Texas. Usually, the first players to run onto the field are head coach Jim Tressel, the captains and then the seniors. However, running amongst senior captains' James Laurinaitis, Malcolm Jenkins, Brian Robiskie and Todd Boeckman, was — you guessed it — No. 28 himself.

Another sign he would be leaving was his willingness to play through an injury that would've kept most people playing the role of sideline spectator.

Knowing that he was still injured coming in, Wells tried to tough it out as if it was going to be his last time with his Buckeye teammates. Wells shined during the game, running for 106 yards on just 16 carries, with most coming in the first half. He would suffer a concussion early in the fourth quarter that kept him out of the game, but it was apparent that he was hurting prior to that play, because he limped off the field numerous times throughout the first half. 

Why would he continue to play, knowing that he was still injured? Because he wanted to go out with a bang.

The coaches finally had to step in and tell him that his night was over.

"The coaches wouldn't let me back in the game," he said. "I had blurry vision so they told me I was done."

The final sign that Wells has played his final game at OSU was the way he spoke about his teammates, especially backup tailback, Dan "Boom" Herron, who came in relief and rushed for 30 yards on five carries, including a 15-yard touchdown run late in the game which gave the Buckeyes a 21-17 lead.

Wells said that he was proud of the way he came in and played under the dire circumstances. He spoke as if he was handing the baton to Mr. Herron.

The fact is, it would be a smart decision for Wells to leave. For one, it appears that his team is in good hands — or legs — in the backfield. With Herron, Brandon Saine and the incoming star freshman Jamaal Berry carrying the load in 2009, the Buckeyes won't be falling from the ranks of the Big Ten elite any time soon.

And with Wells leaving, he would keep a hold of his solid draft ranking, because as of right now, he is viewed as the top running back prospect in the NFL draft. As of now, his injuries look to be just a one season thing, sort of like Adrian Peterson at Oklahoma a few seasons ago. One season of injuries won't hurt his stock. However, if he would return for his senior season and have the injuries resurface, that would cause his draft stock to plummet — as well as his bank account.

In this day of economic turmoil, he just can't afford to come back to Columbus.