Ohio State freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson accomplished one of the goals he set for his rookie season by rushing for 277 yards in Saturday’s 41-20 win over Tulsa.
No, he didn’t have that exact mark in mind, but at some point this season he did want to break Archie Griffin’s freshman record of 239 yards against North Carolina in 1972.
He claimed the mark as his own in just his third game, doing so with a 52-yard jaunt in the third quarter. It was his final carry of the quarter, but not his final touch of the game. He added a 3-yard run and a 31-yard run in the fourth quarter to finish with the new OSU freshman record of 277 yards on the ground.
Henderson showed everybody a glimpse of what he could do in the season opener against Minnesota, taking a swing pass 71 yards for a score. That was nothing new to his teammates, and neither was Saturday’s performance against Tulsa.
“We already knew he was special,” quarterback CJ Stroud said after the game. “He has a God-given talent and he put it on display today, showing the nation what he can do. He’s just starting. It was amazing watching him do what he did today, and I think he can do even better.”
Henderson started the game for the Buckeyes, which was something he found out about just prior to the game. It wasn’t how he started, however, that impressed everyone. It’s how he finished.
Henderson rushed for 41 yards on 10 carries in the first quarter and then 29 yards on four attempts in the second quarter. It was a very respectable 70 yards on 14 carries, but it was only the beginning.
In the third quarter alone, he rushed for 173 yards on just eight attempts. In that quarter he had carries of 48, 54, and 52 yards. Then he finished the fourth quarter out with a 31-yarder.
Henderson ended up rushing for 199 yards on his final eight carries of the game, averaging 24.9 yards per carry. Maybe we shouldn’t be all that surprised at this point because nobody has had anything other than praise for a guy whose high school coach said he was motivated to be the best player in the world.
“Since he’s come here, he has been very mature. He does not act like a freshman and takes his job very seriously,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said. “He ran hard today and the offensive line really established the line of scrimmage and we were able to control the game at times. The tight ends played hard and blocked well. But when he gets to the second level, he has the ability to make home run plays.”
The second level was Henderson’s playground. A head shake or a shoulder dip would ripple a defender into the ground, then Henderson’s speed would do the rest.
It was a special performance for a running back who didn’t even play high school football last year due to the pandemic.
“I wasn’t expecting something like this but, like I told everyone before, this season I have a lot of big goals for myself and I reached one of my goals today,” Henderson said. “But I have plenty more, so I just got to keep working.”
Starting and carrying the ball 24 times may have come as a surprise to Henderson and his teammates, but the outcome didn’t.
“TreVeyon obviously had an amazing day,” said left tackle Nick Petit-Frere. “Couldn’t be more proud of him. He’s probably one of the best players we have here. He’s worked so hard from the beginning when he got here until now. Everything is going for him and showing out.”
There will be more big days from Henderson this season, and more goals that get crossed off the list.
But he’ll keep those goals to himself for now.
“I can’t put that out there,” he said smiling. “That’s just between me.”