They're hoping Dan ``Boom'' Herron and Brandon Saine can offset the loss of Wells' massive production.
``The thought I've had is that this may be the most comfortable situation - to really use two backs, like the pros are,'' Buckeyes running backs coach Dick Tressel said Thursday.
Wells was a picture of polar opposites the last three years for the Buckeyes. To his teammates and observers, he was a smiley kid with a sunny disposition who always seemed upbeat and slow to anger. Yet on the field he sought out collisions, had a flare for the dramatic and liked nothing more than to belittle a defender by straight-arming him aside or jumping completely over him.
3 1/2 games with a foot injury. Then he elected to give up his senior year to jump to the NFL draft, where he is projected to be a mid- to late-first round pick.
Herron had some success when filling in for Wells while he was out early last season, gaining 439 yards. Saine was a budding star two years ago before he tore a knee ligament and later twisted an ankle, then petered out last year because of two more injuries.
Now they are the only two scholarship tailbacks in Ohio State's spring camp.
They play the same position, but they are decidedly different players.
Herron, who is charitably listed at 5-foot-10 while carrying 198 pounds, is a physical runner and versatile player. He doesn't mind grinding out the hard yards up the middle, but can also cut to the perimeter for yardage.
He bristles at questions about his size.
``A lot of guys might not know my strengths. They might look at my size and say, 'Hey, he's just a little guy. He's not going to bring that much power,''' he said. ``Then I hit 'em and it's like, 'Whoa.' ... I've had guys come up to me after a game and say, 'You run hard for your size.'''
Saine, who is 6-1 and 217 pounds, is the speed back, a former sprint champion in high school who has had few chances to flash his quickness because of those problematic injuries.
f considers him the fastest player on the squad - when he's healthy.
``I guess (fans) haven't seen everything I can do. With an opportunity to play a lot more, I'll be able to show them everything,'' he said. ``It would be hard for anyone outside of the Woody Hayes (football facility) to know what I'm capable of because of what happened last year. But people will see what I can do.''
Coach Jim Tressel acknowledges that times have changed. The Buckeyes won't have the luxury of having a tailback who can carry the ball 25 or 30 times a game. They'll likely have to change their approach and spread the workload.
``With Beanie, it was, 'Let's line up in the I (formation) and feed me the ball for a while,''' Jim Tressel said. ``Maybe our future might be less diverse than it was a year ago.''
Dick Tressel said the coaches will likely tailor their offensive sets and plays for whomever is back behind quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
``You have to realize what some guys' strengths are,'' he said. ``Both Boom and Brandon change directions well. Maybe you do some counter-kind of things. Where with Beanie you wanted to get him going one way and hope that somebody could just get an arm there and not a whole body, because he would run through an arm (tackle).''
ented, run-it-right-at-you I formation made famous in the 1960s and '70s by Woody Hayes, Dick Tressel laughed.
``The I formation will never die ... or Woody will rise up and get after us,'' he said.
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