Running back TreVeyon Henderson rushed for 277 yards and three touchdowns in Ohio State’s 41-20 win over Tulsa on Saturday afternoon, breaking Archie Griffin’s record for the most rushing yards by a freshman in a single game set in 1972.
That includes touchdown runs of five, 48 and 52 yards, all of which the Buckeyes needed in order to avoid an upset in a game that was much closer than the final score suggests.
“Since he’s come here, he’s worked really hard and been very mature,” head coach Ryan Day of Henderson said after the game. “He does not act like a freshman and takes his job very, very seriously.
“I though he ran hard today, the offensive line really established the line of scrimmage and we were able to control the game at times. The tight ends played hard and blocked well. But when he gets to the second level, he gives us that opportunity to come out the back end and hit home runs, which you saw in the first game and a few times today.”
Henderson scored the first touchdown of his career on a 70-yard reception in the season opener at Minnesota. He then earned his first career start with a strong week of practice, supplanting junior Master Teague and redshirt freshman Miyan Williams, who unexpectedly did not play a single snap against the Golden Hurricane.
“Each running back is different, but he’s somebody that can hit home runs – and that’s special,” Day said. “He has that special talent, and when you give it to him and he gets to the second level and makes a guy miss, it could be a home run, and that’s a whole different dynamic.
“We were playing the hot hand there. I thought Master practiced well, Miyan did miss one of the practices this week and wasn’t feeling well. Those guys practiced a little bit better. It wasn’t like we were holding him out, but TreVeyon was hot, so Coach (Tony) Alford went with him.”
Henderson, a Virginia native who is one of just four five-star running backs to sign with the Buckeyes since the turn of the century, now trails only Trey Sermon (331 yards in last year’s Big Ten Championship Game against Northwestern) and Eddie George (314 yards in a win over Illinois in 1995) in the Ohio State record books for yardage in a single game.
“I wasn’t expecting something like this, but like I said before the season, I have a lot of big goals for myself,” Henderson said. “I reached one of my goals today, but I got plenty more, so I have to keep working.”
Henderson’s performance certainly made things easier for redshirt freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud, who has shown flashes of greatness but also struggled in his first three starts behind center. It also showed the Buckeyes’ offense can be just as dangerous on the ground as though the air.
“We already knew he was special,” Stroud said. “He has a God-given talent and he put it on display today, showed the whole nation what he can do. He’s just starting. It was amazing watching him do what he did today, and I think he can do even better (moving forward).”
Redshirt junior offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere, who made a key downfield block on the linebacker on Henderson’s 48-yard score that put Ohio State up 20-6 early in the third quarter, echoed those sentiments.
“TreVeyon obviously had an amazing day,” Petit-Frere said. “I couldn’t be more proud of him. He’s probably one of the best players we have here, and he’s worked so hard from the beginning when he got here to now. Everything’s kind of going for him and he’s showing out.”
After the game, Henderson was made aware of a text message from Griffin to longtime Ohio State beat writer Tim May. In it, the two-time Heisman Trophy winner said the true freshman is going to be “spectacular.”
"I'm excited right now, but at the same time, I have to keep this going,” he said. “I can’t just let this be a one-time thing. I have to stay hungry and go back in practice this week, work hard and do it again in the next game.”
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