It’s not every year that a college football program is able to sign a “blue-chip” running back. It’s even rarer when they can sign two. And it’s rarer still when one of those running backs helps to recruit the other.

That was the case about 53 weeks ago when current freshman running back Evan Pryor committed to Ohio State and then less than two weeks later TreVeyon Henderson did the same.

Pryor was ranked the No. 2 all-purpose back in the nation and Henderson the No. 1 overall running back. Before either one committed, they had spoken about playing together and what it could do for both of them down the road. It eventually became something that both wanted and Ohio State leaned into it during their recruitment.

Interestingly, had the Buckeyes landed just one of them, perhaps the expectations as a freshman would have been higher. It wasn’t that long ago that JK Dobbins was the No. 2 all-purpose back in the nation when he signed with Ohio State. He went on to rush for 1,403 yards as a true freshman for the Buckeyes.

Signing two talented running backs may double the chances of one of them having a big debut season, but when they walk into the running back room at Ohio State where they are two of six scholarship players, the expectations don’t need to rise to Dobbins levels.

Nor should they.

“That’s not fair to anybody,” Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford said this week. “We’ve only been practicing for two days. I think these young guys are very explosive football players. You can tell they’ve got some twitch, and some burst in them. But we’ll just continue to work with them and see where this thing goes.”

Wednesday will be the Buckeyes’ third spring practice — and their first one in pads — but Alford had already learned quite a bit about how much his two freshmen wanted to work this winter.

“It was funny, I got a FaceTime call on a Sunday,” he began. “This was weeks ago mind you. It was on a Sunday, I get a FaceTime call about eight at night and these two are in there and they have somehow figured out how to get into the facility on a Sunday night and they’re working on pass protection. And they’re having one of the other receivers with them holding up the camera and had me coach them through some drill stuff and pass protections on a Sunday night, I think it was late January, early February. So they’re just hungry, they’re hungry to learn and they’re great kids.”

There is quite a bit of catch-up for both players as neither played high school football last season. Henderson is from Virginia and Pryor is from North Carolina. Both states moved their respective high school seasons to this spring. As such, neither player has put the pads on since their junior seasons.

It may take a little bit of time to get back up to speed, but neither freshman felt like they were set too far back by not having high school ball last year.

“No, not really. I don’t think it set me back,” Henderson said on Tuesday. “But we put the pads on Wednesday. All I need is just that one good hit to wake me up and I’ll be good.”

Pryor, however, had a bit of a different answer when it came to getting hit.

“Yeah, I’m ready,” he said. “First day of spring ball was fast, so I feel like I made that adjustment well. But regarding Wednesday, whatever happens, happens. I know I’m gonna go hard and do what I do, which is not try to get hit. But if it happens, oh well, I’m gonna keep pushing.

“My goal every time is to go to the end zone.”

Both players are explosive home run hitters, but if it’s getting hit that Henderson wants, he won’t have to wait long.

“It’s funny to hear him say I can’t wait to get hit. Well don’t worry buddy, it’s coming,” Alford laughed. “It’ll be upon you here soon. But the thing that has probably impressed me the most is just their eagerness to learn. They’re really hungry to learn and trying to take it all in. They’re both extremely, extremely coachable kids, they’re always on a quest of ‘give me more, give me more.’ When you start coaching them and correcting them, they don’t take it personally. It’s not a personal attack at them. They want to know what can I do better here.

While the entire running back room is competing against each other, they are simultaneously doing what they can to help each other and make each other better. That’s especially true for Henderson and Pryor, who are already leaning on each other as they go through everything a first time.

And it’s not just football where they compete.

“Yeah, off the field, we’re roommates. Every day, low key we compete in everything,” Pryor said. “If Trey cooks something, maybe I’ll cook something. See what tastes better. But you know on the field as well, we’re pushing each other. But that’s not just us, that’s all guys in the room. Striving to be as great as we can be and fighting for a spot to play.”

And just as on the football field, there is no sharing of equipment.

“I got my pots, he’s got his pots,” Pryor deadpanned.

A freshman with accolades like either one of these guys could come into a situation and expect to be treated as the blue-chip prospect they were. Instead, both Pryor and Henderson have come into Ohio State with the mindset of working to become the players they want to be. And it’s a constant, daily process that requires more than just their own input.

“These kids fit right in and I’m thrilled, I mean thrilled with where they’re at,” Alford said. “Thrilled with the development that they’ve shown thus far. We got to get better, and we got to get better in a hurry, but I’m very pleased with where they’re at in this juncture.”

And as for who the best cook is, Alford would have no problem deciding that one as well.

“You know, I don’t know. Evan says he’s the best,” he said. “You know something though, they’re more than welcome to come to my house and I’m more than willing to eat and see who can do what.”

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