Ohio State’s logjam of capable ball carriers gave way to three players receiving carries in the season-opening win at Indiana last week, but it was the performance of DeaMonte “Chip” Trayanum that stood out above the rest for reasons extending beyond his work with the ball in his hands.
Trayanum, who transferred from Arizona State ahead of the 2022 season, carried the ball eight times for 61 yards and a blistering 7.1 yards per carry average, representing Ohio State’s most efficient running back performance on a day when the rushing attack wasn’t always in sync. He also snuck out of the backfield to haul in a 12-yard pass from Kyle McCord for a third-down conversion in the fourth quarter, showing off his abilities in the passing game.
But while Trayanum’s performance in the traditional phases of a running back’s game was notable, perhaps the most eye-grabbing moments of his day were the plays when he was deployed as a fullback and lead blocker. Seldom has a Ryan Day-led offense ever utilized a fullback during his seven seasons in Columbus, and using a second running back to fill the role was a wrinkle no one outside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center saw coming prior to kickoff.
The decision paid off well for Day and the Ohio State offense as Trayanum performed admirably in the role, particularly on the first of just two touchdown drives in the game. Midway through the first quarter, Trayanum’s block on Indiana defensive back Josh Sanguinetti allowed Miyan Williams to reach the edge and, ultimately, the end zone to give Ohio State a 7-0 lead.
As a converted linebacker, Trayanum has never been one to shy away from contact, suggesting he would continue to excel in the role should Day stick with the package. At 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighing 233 lbs., Trayanum is also built well for the role physically.
More importantly, he seems willing to embrace the role mentally. Speaking with the media on Wednesday, Trayanum was asked what position he plays, and he responded by saying, “Apparently, whatever the team needs.”
He added, “As long we get the win, man, that’s all that matters at the end of the day.”
Like any running back, Trayanum would surely prefer to carry the ball upwards of 20 times per game as a featured part of the offensive game plan. But with talented backs such as Williams and TreVeyon Henderson sharing the backfield, and only so many carries to go around, he has seemingly bought in entirely to the culture of selflessness running backs coach Tony Alford has built in his room. So much so, in fact, that Traynum said on Wednesday that leading Williams into the end zone felt as good as scoring himself.
“We love to see each other succeed,” he said. “As long as somebody in the running back room is on the field doing the job and succeeding, that just reflects on us as a whole unit.”
By embracing whatever role he is asked to fill, Trayanum is also giving himself additional opportunities to do the one thing he enjoys doing more than anything on the field.
“For the most part, it’s fun just because of my love for the game and my love to compete,” he said of lining up at fullback. “I just love being on the field regardless, and I’m a competitor, so whatever role I can compete in and maximize on the field, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Given his head coach’s comments on Tuesday, it seems likely Ohio State will continue to find ways to get Trayanum on the field moving forward, whichever way that may look.
“You look at his versatility and he can do everything,” Day said of Trayanum. “He can catch the ball out of the backfield…he’s big and strong and can block. You saw him as an insert fullback. I say fullback, but he’s not a fullback. He’s just a big running back, and there are a lot of things you can do with that. And then you saw him just running the ball from the backfield. When you can do a lot of those things, you can really create stress on a defense.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.