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July 18, 2013

Hyde looking for Walker Award, history

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- On Thursday, Carlos Hyde found himself on the preseason watch list for the Doak Walker Award. But in order to walk away with the trophy that is presented annually to college football's premiere running back, Hyde will likely have to accomplish something that no running back has ever done in Urban Meyer's spread offense: rush for 1,000 yards.

A few have come close, and last season, quarterback Braxton Miller became the first player to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season under Meyer, but a stigma still exists that the spread offense has helped Meyer win two national titles doesn't favor traditional ball-carriers. At 6-feet tall and 242 pounds, Hyde is determined to put that notion to rest in his senior season.

"I want to come back and get 1,000 yards and raise that crystal ball," Hyde said following a spring practice session this past spring.

The Naples, Fla. native came close to his goal last season, when he rushed for 970 yards in just 10 games for the Buckeyes. Just one more game would have likely helped him make history, but a knee injury kept him out of OSU's second and third games of the year.

When he looks back at film, however, it's not the missed games that stand out to Hyde, as much as it's the missed opportunities.

"When I did watch film of myself I was just like, dang, if I could've just made this dude miss, I would've been gone and maybe if I would've made a different read on a certain run, I could've been gone," Hyde said. "That's what I got another year for."

Paired with Miller, Hyde helped lead the Buckeyes to the nation's 10th ranked rushing offense, an accomplishment that not only helped land the senior running back on the Walker Award watch list, but the one for the Maxwell Award as well. All of this preseason hype for the Naples high school product almost never happened, however, as he debated entering his name in last April's NFL Draft.

Ultimately, Hyde opted to return to Columbus for his senior season, citing an offensive unit that returns nine starters from 2012, and unfinished business on the national level.

"I thought about it. I really thought hard," Hyde said of foregoing his senior season. "Then my whole offense came back, so I was like, it wouldn't be bad if I did come back and get my stock up, so yeah, why not?"

Hyde's level-headed approach is one that OSU running backs coach Stan Drayton has credited for a turnaround in his career. During a sophomore year where his playing time fluctuated throughout an unstable Ohio State season, Hyde once threatened to transfer via his Twitter account, but received a fresh start when Meyer and his staff came to town.

"Carlos matured and became more than just about Carlos. That was the difference in his approach to the football field last year," Drayton said. "He cared more about his team, he became more of a teammate, that's definitely the direct reason why he had the success that he had last year."

This season Hyde is hopeful for even more success -- at least 30 yards of it. Putting up 1,000 yards in Meyer's offense would go a long way towards disproving the theory that power backs can't work in a spread offense, although Hyde believes that he's already done that.

"It's actually good for the big backs," he said. "I don't have a problem with it at all."

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