Man, I love the Buckeyes. They've been buried by the national media over the past few years so much that I hesitate to even talk negatively about them. The many positives about Jim Tressell's program have been overlooked recently, with the talking heads instead focusing on the big-game losses, the Maurice Clarett fiasco and the general incompetence of the Big 10. Hell, every time the 2002 National Championship has been mentioned the last year or so there seems to be this perception that the interference call "gave" Ohio State the game. Not true. The Buckeyes earned that win by outplaying, outcoaching, and outhitting Miami, plain and simple. I watched a replay of the game just the other day. It couldn't be clearer.
With all that being said, let's talk about Chris "Beanie" Wells and his declaration to enter the NFL draft today. I gotta tell you, I have a ton of questions as to whether he's going to make it. Now before you start going crazy, hear me out. There's obviously no doubt the guy has the tools, body, and athleticism to be a big-time NFL back. He never runs out of bounds and has a jackhammer stiff arm that has stoned some of the best linebackers and defensive backs around. All that, however, makes it even harder to watch when he gets up makes one of his all too familiar flights to the sideline.
Seriously, has anybody taken more plays off than Beanie in the Tressel era at OSU? By taking plays off I don't mean he's lazy or loafs when he's actually on the field. I mean he literally leaves the game to go sit on the bench. That cat has gotten up from more hits limping and wincing than Dwyane Wade. The difference is Wade stays in the game. Beanie? Nah, not so much.
Beanie's history of injuries in the last 3-years has left Buckeye fans frustrated and asking questions. The latest, his concussion in the Fiesta Bowl versus Texas, was especially infuriating. After he left the game he went to the bench and took a seat. After the phalanx of trainers (he must know them and their extended families very well) hovered over him for a bit, several players walked over to him, ostensibly asking if he was going back in. No such luck, but later on he was seen walking around the sideline laughing and seemingly enjoying himself. Maybe I'm old school, but that's hard for me to understand. It's the last game for a ton of Ohio State's seniors, and oh yeah, a chance for Ohio State to win the game and regain some national respect. Still, Chris Wells couldn't even go in for a play and show that he was at the very least giving it a try.
This caps off a career that was fraught with many scenes exactly like this one, from the mysterious toe injury (did we EVER get a clear explanantion as to what was wrong?) to the countless other times he got up from a tackle and headed straight for the trainers. Yeah, yeah, I know, he's one of OSU's all-time leading rushers and that's all well and good. Still, one has to wonder what might have been had he been able to play hurt and gut it out more often.
Which brings me back to the NFL draft. If Beanie had so much trouble getting hurt in the college game, how in the world will he be able to handle the grueling 16-game schedule and the hard-hitting athletes of the NFL? The nicks and bruises he's feeling on Sunday mornings are nothing compared to what he'll feel on Mondays next year.
Seriously, I hope I'm wrong. Like I said, he has everything it takes physically to be a great NFL back. He's clearly big, strong, and fast enough. But . . . is he tough enough? I guess we shall see.