Justin Fields and Trey Sermon grew up less than 10 miles from one another as kids. After going their own separate ways to begin their collegiate careers, with Fields choosing Georgia and Sermon going to Oklahoma, little did the pair know, they would become teammates just years later. That’s exactly what happened on Sunday when Sermon announced that he will join the Ohio State Buckeyes as a graduate transfer.
Not to be outdone by the men’s basketball team, the Ohio State football team received some great news on the graduate transfer over the weekend as well. Less than 24 hours after the top-ranked player on the graduate transfer market, Seth Towns committed to Chris Holtmann and the Buckeyes, arguably the top graduate transfer on the market, Sermon committed to Ryan Day and the scarlet and gray. For the second year in a row, the Buckeyes filled a glaring hole on the roster via the transfer portal, this time at running back. Due to him being a graduate transfer, Sermon will be immediately eligible and has just one season of eligibility remaining.
“It’s kind of crazy to look back and believe that the place where I scored my first touchdown is where I’m going to be spending my final year of college football,” Sermon told Lettermen Row’s Austin Ward, who first broke the news. “I’m excited for this opportunity, I’m excited to just be with the team and I’m excited to connect with the guys.
“I just believe it’s the best situation for me. I know that I have the opportunity to play there considering the depth, and I had a relationship with [running backs coach Tony] Alford during my recruiting process coming out of high school. He was a great guy then, and I just feel like I connected well with him. I know I’m going to have to go in and compete for the job, but I feel like it’s the best situation for me to go into now.”
What about his first touchdown that he mentioned, you ask? It happened when Oklahoma upset the Buckeyes in Columbus in Week 2 of the 2017 season. Sermon totaled 17 carries for 62 yards and also added three catches for 23 yards and a touchdown. During his three-year career as a Sooner, the 6-foot, 216-pound running back combined to run for 2,076 yards and 22 touchdowns on 339 carries while also bringing in 36 receptions for 391 yards and three touchdowns as well.
Ohio State lands Trey Sermon, one of the best grad transfers in the country this offseason.
During his career at Oklahoma, Sermon was effective running to the outside and between the tackles, with his usage split virtually even in every direction. https://t.co/V826JZSGjb pic.twitter.com/9qxDapQZOu
— CFB Film Room (@CFBFilmRoom) March 22, 2020
Due to the fact that Sermon and Alford have had a relationship ever since the coach recruited the running back during the Sermon’s high school days, the two connected again once Sermon announced that he would play his final year of college football outside of Norman. The fit was perfect. With J.K. Dobbins foregoing his final year of eligibility and taking his talents to the NFL, Master Teague was expected to be RB1 heading into the fall. That quickly changed when Teague suffered a leg injury during the first practice of spring, one that WFNY has been told is an Achilles injury. Add in Marcus Crowley’s injury that kept him out of spring practice and Ohio State was in dire need of another running back, one that would try and replace Dobbins’ production, even if Teague and Crowley were fully healthy.
Given that unfortunate news and with the severity of Teague’s injury unknown, the starting running back spot next to quarterback Justin Fields in the backfield was wide open. It was an opportunity both Ohio State and Sermon couldn’t pass up. He not only brings experience to the running backs room, but the 2,000-yard rusher brings a playmaking ability that the Buckeyes badly needed in the backfield.
The only hold up had to do with the coronavirus because due to it shutting down much of the world, the NCAA also put a halt to recruiting and everything else involving college athletics. In fact, college students aren’t even allowed on campus until at least the summer. Yet, even though this is currently a dead period for recruiting now, that seemed to help the Buckeyes. It made it easier to bring Sermon to the scarlet and gray.
“It was a little difficult [with travel restricted], but it was kind of good at the same time,” Sermon said. “I didn’t get to see many places, but with that being said, I’ve been to Columbus before and I definitely remember my experience there. So, I guess that kind of made it easier for me to decide.
“There are definitely similarities with the offense, and that’s kind of what helped my decision as well going into an offense that is pretty similar. That way I just have to learn the terminology, and just the [experience] understanding the game helps as well. I talked to Coach Day a little bit as well, he seems like a great guy. Just based on the conversations that we had and texting back and forth, I’m just excited to play for him.”
One year after Justin Fields transferred from Georgia to Ohio State, which gave the Buckeyes a legitimate starting quarterback, Sermon’s arrival is much-needed in Columbus. No matter how much time Teague and Crowley will miss, Sermon brings a bit of stability to the running backs room for the Buckeyes. He won’t be handed the starting job (unlike Fields), but he has a very good chance of garnering a bunch of playing time this fall even if Teague and Crowley return to 100%.
If things work out perfectly, for Sermon and Ohio State alike, he will be the next big-time running back to come out of Columbus and enter the NFL Draft, following in the footsteps of stars such as Archie Griffin, Eddie George, Beanie Wells, Carlos Hyde, Ezekiel Elliott, and most recently, Dobbins, among many others. The fact that Sermon only has one year of eligibility remaining also helps the Buckeyes because he is now just a stop-gap and they can continue to recruit some of the top running backs in the country in the 2021 recruiting class and beyond.
Sermon scored his first touchdown inside the Horseshoe. This fall, he hopes that will happen much more only this time, it will be as a member of the Buckeyes, not their foe. Ohio State’s coaching staff and Fields have known Sermon for quite a while, it’s just that they’ve always been opponents. Teaming up together, they could make quite a duo throughout the upcoming season, one that Buckeye Nation hopes will bring another championship back to Columbus.
While being recruited in high school, Sermon (the No. 12 running back in the 2017 class) mentioned that he modeled his game after Adrian Peterson and Elliott. Now, he will be able to don the jersey that both of those guys once played in.
“I try to play like Ezekiel Elliott and Adrian Peterson,” he told Eleven Warriors back in 2017. “They’re so explosive when they run, and they’re great at making guys miss. I got a little chance to talk to (Elliott) at Friday Night Lights.”