Jordan Hall, Carlos Hyde give Buckeyes great depth at tailback

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Ohio State's lack of depth at tailback was a concern heading into fall camp. Now, the position appears to be one of the Buckeyes' biggest strengths.

Senior Carlos Hyde was supposed to start at tailback, but he was suspended for the first three games for an off-field issue.

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Without him, the Buckeyes turned to senior Jordan Hall (5-feet-9, 191 pounds), whom coaches had planned to play at H-back (basically, a slot position in the Buckeyes' version of the spread) this fall. Hall is a fifth-year senior who received a medical redshirt last season for a foot injury suffered playing in three early-season games.

Hall had just 224 career carries entering this season, and there was a concern about whether he could hold up as the every-down tailback. He has put those fears to rest, carrying 64 times in the first three games. Hall rushed for a career-high 168 yards on a career-high 30 carries in this past Saturday's victory at California. He also had five receptions against Cal, meaning he touched the ball on 40 percent of the Buckeyes' offensive plays (35 of 87).

Hall is averaging 134.0 rushing yards per game, which is ninth in the nation. And he leads the Big Ten in scoring with six TDs.

Hall always has possessed good speed (consistently in the high-4.4/low-4.5 range in the 40) and OK hands, but he never has played with any consistency. That finally seems to have changed, which means he definitely is on NFL scouts' radar now.

This week, Hyde returns, but Hall seems likely to keep the starting job, making Hyde one of the best backup tailbacks in the nation. Hyde (6-0, 235) is built like a fullback, but he has deceptive speed and can turn the corner; still, he is at his best running between the tackles. He rushed for 970 yards and 16 TDs last season despite missing two games with a minor knee injury. He had seven games with at least 17 carries, including four with at least 22.

There's also true freshman Dontre Wilson (5-10, 182), who might be the fastest Buckeye. Wilson has 13 carries for 126 yards to go along with seven receptions for 72 yards. While he is not built to be an every-down tailback, he is a great fit for the Buckeyes' H-back position and seems destined to play a bigger role in the offense as the season progresses.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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