Tuesday, July 13, 2010

HYDE COULD BE A DIFFERENCE MAKER IN THE OSU BACKFIELD

COLUMBUS — Carlos Hyde's journey to Columbus has been a long one to say the least.

(left, Hyde)

The 6-foot-1, 235 pound tailback from southwest Florida was one of Ohio State's top recruits in the class of 2009. The All-Florida runner was expected to come in as a true freshman and give the Buckeyes that bruising presence in the backfield that was left void when Beanie Wells decided to forgo his senior season.

Hyde — who rushed for more than 1,650 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior at Naples (FL) High School — was going to be that complimentary power back to Brandon Saine and Dan Herron, much like Wells was to Antonio Pittman during his freshman campaign in 2006.

(To see film of Hyde, click here.)

However, that plan didn't exactly pan out as Hyde was unable to qualify to Ohio State academically. Instead of hitting those short yardage and goal line plays in Columbus, the Florida star instead found himself hitting the books at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia. Quite a long, long way from the Horseshoe, that's for sure.

But just like he does against opposing defenders, Hyde simply put his head down and blasted through the obstacle with brute force. The talented youngster became eligible academically and enrolled at Ohio State this past January.

Hyde immediately turned heads on the practice field during Ohio State's spring camp in April. The big man not only displayed his great power game during the camp, but he showed an elusive running style that many didn't know he possessed.

Hyde also showcased those skills in front of 65,000 fans at the Scarlet and Gray game, carrying the ball a game-high six times for 26 yards (4.3 avg.). He also hauled in an 11-yard reception on the Gray squad's game-winning scoring drive in the fourth quarter.

According to Ohio State running backs coach Doc Tressel, the adversity that Hyde has faced on his journey will help him become a better player for the Buckeyes.

"I think if we all stop and think about adversity ... when you come out of adversity, it always helps you," Tressel said on signing day in February. "The adversity that he's gone through is going to help him. It's going to add to his mental toughness."

Toughness is a word that fully describes Carlos Hyde.

"Carlos is a physical, explosive ball carrier," Tressel said. "A tough player. A football player. Hard nosed.

"He's the type of back that you need because backs have to be the toughest guys on the field. Everybody's after him. We're excited that this big, strong guy is finally on our campus and he's excited to help the Buckeyes be the best we can be."

Yes, Saine and Herron will surely see the bulk of the carries this season — at least early on — while sophomore Jordan Hall and red-shirt freshman Jaamal Berry will fight for playing time in the Buckeye backfield.

But Hyde brings something to the table that none of the other four backs can, and that's pure power. Not only is Hyde a punishing runner who can pick up the short yardage when called upon, but he can also block like a fullback — something which could come in handy when the Buckeyes open up the passing game this fall.

Tressel is excited about seeing what his young bruiser can do in the Buckeyes' system.

"(Hyde) played awfully close to the line of scrimmage (in high school)," Tressel said. "It's going to be interesting to see him line up about seven and a half yards deep and get his big body rolling, taking on some of those guys."

Oh yes, it's going to be interesting indeed.

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