COLUMBUS — Ohio State freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson wasn’t born yet when Dan Patrick popularized the catch phrase, “You can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him,” on ESPN.
But it could have been written for him.
Henderson, ranked the top running back recruit nationally in 2021, became one of the most explosive running backs in college football as a freshman this season.
He has rushed for 1,172 yards and 15 touchdowns and has caught 23 passes, four of them for touchdowns, going into Ohio State’s Rose Bowl match-up against Utah on New Year’s Day.
Expectations were high and he raised them to a new level with the way he played early in the season, including running for 277 yards against Tulsa, the third-highest total ever in a game by an OSU running back.
But big plays became less frequent later in the season. It wasn’t like he hit a wall. It was more like doors that were wide open early became partially closed.
Henderson averaged 8.7 yards per carry in the Buckeyes’ first seven games and 5.4 yards per carry in their last five games. In the first seven games, 21 percent of his carries (17 of 79) went for 10 yards or more. In the last five, 9 percent of his carries (8 of 88) produced 10 yards or more.
“Early in the season everything was open. After that you just had to fight to get what was yours,” Henderson said.
“Some people don’t understand that you’re not always going to have home run hits. Some defenses we played this year were pretty good and had good players all across the field. We weren’t going to get those home run hits they expected every game.”
Henderson is OK with not swinging for the fences on every carry. “I love those dirty 3 to 5 yard runs,” he said.
Henderson rushed for 1,989 yards, scored 39 touchdowns and averaged 12.7 yards a carry as a junior in high school at Hopewell (Va.) High School. He did not play his senior season because Virginia moved its 2020 football season to the spring of 2021 because of COVID-19 and he had already enrolled at OSU by that time.
“I think I did a good job. Not being able to play football for a year I think I had a good season,” he said.
He broke Maurice Clarett’s Ohio State freshman touchdown record with 19 and scored a touchdown in 10 of OSU’s 12 games. He says his biggest adjustment when he got to college football was learning to pass block.
“This is my first time having to pass block. I never pass blocked before. I think I did all right at it for being 5-10, 210 pounds. I think I did OK. I think I did a pretty good job of sticking my face in there,” he said.
“I think I did a good job. Not being able to play football for a year I think I had a good season. I want to get better at everything. Each part of my game I want to be the best at it.”