In need of another running back to compete for carries this season, Ryan Day and Ohio State again turned to the transfer portal to fill a significant need.
Former Oklahoma running back Trey Sermon announced his transfer destination to Columbus on March 22, and that move was made official by the program on Wednesday.
Sermon, who is heading into his senior season, will have one year of eligibility remaining. Because he is a graduate transfer, Sermon will have immediate eligibility for the 2020 season.
Heading into spring practice, the running back position loomed as one of the biggest question marks for the Buckeyes with the departure of J.K. Dobbins to the NFL Draft. That uncertainty was compounded with the loss of redshirt sophomore Master Teague, who went down with a lower leg injury on the first day of spring practice, and sophomore Marcus Crowley working his way back from a significant leg injury suffered last season.
Those injuries thrust Steele Chambers into the role of lead back for what little of spring practice was held, and with freshman Miyan Williams representing the only other scholarship back on the roster, the Ohio State staff was forced to look elsewhere for help.
“Master getting hurt in the spring put us behind the eight ball a little bit in terms of depth, and then Marcus Crowley is coming off the ACL (injury),” Day said. “When Trey became available, we did a lot of research, made a lot of calls. The people at Oklahoma had such great things to say about him.”
In Sermon, Ohio State is adding a back who is capable of impacting an offense in a variety of ways.
“He can do a lot of things,” Day said. “He’s big, strong, powerful, has good feet in the hole. He can break tackles. He can run routes out of the backfield. He can pass protect. Again, he’s another versatile guy.”
Day said he knows first hand what Sermon is capable of on the field, having been on the sidelines with Ohio State in 2017 when Oklahoma visited Ohio Stadium. Sermon, then a true freshman, ran for 62 yards on 17 carries and recorded his first career touchdown on a 10-yard pass from Baker Mayfield in the 31-16 win for the Sooners that night.
Sermon continued to burst onto the scene for Oklahoma during his freshman season in 2017, running for 744 yards and five touchdowns while helping the Sooners reach the College Football Playoff. Seeing increased carries as a sophomore in 2018, Sermon was even better, totaling 947 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground.
Last season did not go as planned for Sermon, however, as his season was cut short due to a knee injury suffered in a game in early November. The emergence of Kennedy Brooks as another quality back for Oklahoma also muddied what role Sermon would be returning to when fully healthy.
Day said there were many questions asked to the Oklahoma staff about the physical status of Sermon ahead of the transfer, questions he said received encouraging responses from the folks in Norman.
“We felt really good about this (transfer),” Day said of how he felt following those talks.
In addition to his on-field talent, Day said Sermon is a quality addition off the field as a great student; Sermon is a former Academic All-Conference performer in the Big 12.
The process of communicating with Sermon about coming to Columbus became more difficult with the outbreak of the virus, forcing Day and the staff to rely on teleconferences to meet with him and gauge the fit. Needless to say, the coaching staff came away impressed with those talks, and Day said it’s “great to get a mature young man like Trey in the program.”
Day added, “I know our team is going to take him with welcomed arms. I’ve just been very impressed with the running back room and how they’ve already taken him in. It just goes to show you the culture of our team.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.