Evan Pryor is a very talented running back. He’s also a very talented running back who appears to be behind two other very talented running backs. This leads to the question: Does Pryor play a role on the Ohio State football team’s offense?
Ahead of Pryor in the OSU backfield are the highly talented TreVeyon Henderson, who rushed for 1,200 yards as a true freshman last season, and the mighty Miyan Williams, who chipped 500 yards in just ten games. Both only averaged about seven yards per carry. When you throw in 36 catches as well, you’re really wondering where Pryor can fit in.
One area where Pryor could help the offense is in passing. He has good hands and is good at running distances. The Buckeyes used Jaxon Smith-Njigba outside the backfield at times last season. Pryor could be deployed in the same way, and his presence will put more pressure on a defense. Everyone knew the ball wasn’t going to pass to Smith-Njigba, but obviously that wasn’t going to be the case with Pryor.
He would bring more of a JK Dobbins feel to the offense in those situations. Dobbins often lined up in the backfield before shifting wide. In most cases, this resulted in a coverage mismatch, as the defense had to use a linebacker to cover it. Pryor could create the same types of discrepancies.
The North Carolina native came to the Ohio State football program as the number six in the state, running back in the same recruiting class as Henderson. Pryor only appeared in four games last season and was able to retain his red shirt.
He seems physically much better suited to the rigors of a running back at a Power 5 school. He gained ten pounds in the offseason and is now at 202. Pryor had a very good spring game, rushing for 62 yards and one touchdown and catching four passes for another 44 yards (watch his performance here). Ryan Day was very pleased with what he saw
“He can change direction in short areas. He’s good from the backfield. He catches the ball. And so he shakes us a bit, which is nice. It’s a little change with the offensive. If he continues to grow and stay on the ball, he will make an impact on this offensive this year.”
Will staying on the ball be the determining factor in Pryor’s role on offense? The tag that includes that in his assessment of his young running back raises a red flag for me. Did Pryor struggle with fumbling during spring training?
I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but I think it’s fair to assume that might have been the case. If a running back can’t keep the ball, he won’t play. That’s all there is to it. If Pryor has that problem, hopefully he can rectify it because I think he can add another dimension to this already strong buckeye offense.
While I think there is a role for Evan Pryor, it will be up to him to carve it out. He has to make the best of his opportunities and stick with football. If he can do that, I think he’ll make a difference.