Steele Chambers’ Advice To DeaMonte Trayanum? ‘Don’t look back’

It’s not every day a running back transfers to a school in order to play linebacker, but that’s what Arizona State’s DeaMonte Trayanum chose to do last month when he announced that he would be transferring to Ohio State for the 2022 season.

Trayanum was an All-State linebacker at Akron Hoban, but chose the offensive side of the ball for college. He played the last two years at Arizona State, where he rushed for a total of 691 yards as a freshman and sophomore.

After the season, however, he decided he needed a change of scenery. And goals.

He explained his decision to leave ASU to Buckeye Scoop’s Alex Gleitman recently.

“Just wanting to play for championships at the end of the day,” he said. “Just wanting to win. Just play at a high level.”

The move to Ohio State seems odd on its face, but the Buckeyes recruited Trayanum out of high school and wanted him to be a linebacker all along. When Trayanum decided to leave Arizona State, landing at Ohio State made the most sense to him.

“Entering the transfer portal, you definitely want your next spot to be your last spot,” he explained. “You want that spot to be somewhere you’re comfortable at and you have a relationship with the coaches and players on the team. So I felt like it was the best spot for me. Not only what Ohio State can do for me on the field, but off the field as well with connections and just helping me set my life up for the best success I can have in the future.”

Choosing linebacker over running back, however, may have been an even more difficult decision. Trayanum won’t necessarily be starting back at square one, but he’ll be able to see it from where he’s standing.

“Really just taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, setting myself up for the best possible success for the future,” he said of his move to defense. “Realizing that Ohio State has a need at linebacker right now and just be willing to come in and step in and hopefully make a dominant impact in that room and just help the team win.”

The move from running back to linebacker is not unprecedented, especially at Ohio State. It wasn’t that long ago that former head coach Urban Meyer had to ask fullback Zach Boren to move to middle linebacker because they needed a starter. Boren excelled in the role and helped lead the 2012 Buckeyes to an undefeated season.

But there is obviously a much more recent example in the form of Steele Chambers, who moved from running back to linebacker last summer for the Buckeyes. After averaging 7.9 yards per carry as a running back in 2019 and 2020, Chambers eventually won the starting Will linebacker job for the Buckeyes and finished fifth on the team with 47 tackles.

Chambers was one of the surprises on defense for the Buckeyes, but it was never easy.

“Transitioning to defense, whenever you know the offense completely, just having to go to extra meetings, having kind of to start from square one on the learning process, whenever you know one side of the ball completely, you just know the side of the ball really well and then having to make the transition, it’s just mentally kind of frustrating,” Chambers said of making the move to defense.

Chambers was available to reporters out at the Rose Bowl and was asked about Trayanum and making the move to defense.

“I mean, it’s hard, but I bet he’s going to be able to push through it pretty easily,” Chambers said. “I mean, it’s hard at first, but once you make that jump from offense to defense and you don’t really look back, if you’re all in, I think it’ll be fun.

“It’s a tough transition, but I feel like he’s going to be able to do it pretty easily. I mean, he’s an Ohio guy. I’m pretty sure he’s mentally tough. So I think he’ll be fine.”

A move like this cannot be done without necessary amounts of both confidence and patience. The two can sometimes fly in the face of each other. It won’t be a smashing success each and every day, which can cause a lack of confidence. That’s where patience needs to take over.

For Trayanum, he certainly has the initial part of the confidence down. He wouldn’t have transferred to Ohio State if he didn’t. But he also understands that every step of this will be a process.

“I don’t see any challenges for me on defense,” Trayanum said. ” How I play on defense, when I’m just locked in on defense, it’s like a switch flips and I’m a whole different person. Really, I don’t see any challenges for me except for myself just staying on top of everything and holding myself to those high standards. Just meeting those goals on an every-day basis, I would say that will be a challenge, just meeting my goals on an every day basis of what I want to be.”

The good news for Trayanum is that each of those days there will be somebody who has already gone through what he’s going through.

Chambers doesn’t see himself as an example, but he is certainly willing to be a resource.

“I wouldn’t say I would be setting the example, really,” Chambers said. “I mean, there are other guys in our room that are definitely better prepared to set an example for that because I’m still shaky on a bunch of stuff. But yeah I could definitely be there for him. I can be a guy to lean on whenever. He’s jumping into this venture that he really doesn’t know anything about yet, but I mean, I’m sure he’s gonna be fine with it.”

Trayanum is now enrolled at Ohio State and will start classes next week. It’s been three years in the making, but he now feels like he is at place where all of his goals are available to him.

And now that he’s going to be back on defense, he’s looking forward to showing everybody what he can do on that side of the ball.

“Relentless and fierce,” is how he described his play. “Just reading and reacting. Always being around the ball. That’s what I look to bring.”

The Buckeyes are adding a new defensive coordinator in Jim Knowles this year. Knowles is known for his aggressive defenses, which would seem to suit Trayanum just fine.

This won’t be be an easy transition and it won’t be immediate, but boy it sure could be fun to watch.