COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Some college standouts shy away from talk about the Heisman Trophy, as if the very mention of the statuette will somehow jinx their future.
Not Ohio State tailback Chris ``Beanie'' Wells. He's not only thinking about winning it this fall, he's been planning on it for the past few years.
``I'm not going to sit here and tell you I don't think about winning the Heisman,'' he said Thursday after the Buckeyes went through their paces in spring practice. ``Because that's something I've worked hard to accomplish.''
He said he first started contemplating the Heisman back when he was a sophomore at Garfield High School in Akron.
``Me and my father were sitting in the living room. I told him I wanted to be the first freshman to win the Heisman, but that didn't happen.''
Chuckling, he added, ``So, you know, I just want to get it, honestly.''
Wells, a 6-foot-1, 237-pounder who will be a junior this fall, is coming off a season that sets him up as a prime contender for the Heisman. He rushed for 1,609 yards and 15 touchdowns, saving his best numbers for the biggest games for the 11-2 Buckeyes, who lost for the second year in a row in the BCS national title game.
He was averaging 92 yards with six total touchdowns through Ohio State's first seven games, then went for 161 yards a game with nine TDs in the final six.
Wells, with bulk to go between the tackles in addition to speed to turn the corner, piled up 221 yards against Michigan State, 133 at Penn State and 169 against Wisconsin in critical Big Ten games. After being held to 76 yards and two scores in a home loss to Illinois, he scored both touchdowns and had 222 yards on a career-high 39 carries in a 14-3 win at Michigan. He capped that with 146 yards on 20 carries, including a 65-yard scoring run, in the 38-24 loss to LSU in the title game.
What's more, he was playing with a bad ankle and a broken bone in his left wrist. Wells had surgery to repair his wrist in January and is being held out of heavy contact this spring so he doesn't re-injure it. He wears a gray cast on his hand, wrist and forearm.
The ankle was an even bigger worry, limiting his carries throughout the year and forcing the coaching staff to cut back on working him hard in practice.
Wells said he was only 70 percent last year, and that the pain was unbearable in some games.
``I think some of those touchdown runs were 100 percent and some of the other plays were 50,'' cracked Ohio State running backs coach Dick Tressel, older brother of head coach Jim Tressel. ``So that made it 70.''
Fullback Ryan Lukens said it's hard to imagine what it'll be like when Wells is whole.
``He looks 100 percent healthy to me right now,'' Lukens said. ``He's going full-go but the coaches have to stop him sometimes because they don't want him falling on his wrist. It's very exciting to be blocking for a back the caliber of Beanie Wells.''
Dick Tressel said Wells' drive sets him apart from others he's coached. Tressel has even compared Wells' running style to that of Hall of Famer Jim Brown.
``The guy likes playing the game, he likes to compete,'' Tressel said. ``He realizes what level of talent he has. He wants to be the best that he can be. That's fun to be around for all of us.''
Wells' rushing total set an Ohio State record for a sophomore. He said Thursday that he has no intention of leaving Ohio State early, that he fully intends to play two more years with the Buckeyes before moving on to the NFL.
His goals are set far beyond hitting statistical goals, though. He said he wants to ``leave a mark.''
``When somebody talks about Ohio State, and the great players, I want my name to be mentioned,'' he said. ``We have guys like Archie (Griffin), Eddie George, Keith Byars, Antonio Pittman - those are all great guys, don't get me wrong. But I want my name to be at the top.''
Winning a Heisman would certainly put him up there.

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