Ryan Day Reveals a Surprising Potential Role for Star Transfer

caleb downs running back

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day held an impromptu presser on Tuesday. In all, he addressed a number of questions from the local press. He and his staff have been working through concerns at wide receiver depth, the right side of the offensive line, and safety. However, he dropped a nugget that raised eyebrows around the room. Star Alabama transfer safety Caleb Downs has been sitting in on running back meetings and has participated in drills with the unit.

Could Downs be utilized as a running back in a game this year?

Ryan Day Reveals Caleb Downs Also Works Out With Running Backs

Downs was one of the top defenders in all of college football as a true freshman at Alabama last year. He was the Shaun Alexander National Freshman of the Year, the SEC Freshman of the Year, a First-Team All-SEC selection, and made PFF’s First-Team All-American team. His breakout performance marked the first time in Alabama’s storied history that a freshman led the way in tackles. He amassed 107 tackles, three-and-a-half tackles for loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, four pass breakups, and two interceptions.

With Nick Saban retiring, Downs transferred north to Ohio State and is set to take over the safety position. However, the thought of Downs carrying the football is about as enticing as any.

In his initial recruiting profile, 247SportsAndrew Ivins noted that Downs, “Could probably be a full-time running back at the Power Five level if he wanted to as he’s difficult to bring down with the pigskin in his hands and knows how to find green grass.” As a senior in 2022, Downs ran the ball 57 times for 389 yards and 20 touchdowns. Yes, Downs scored 20 touchdowns off 57 rushing attempts.

Will Ohio State do it? Probably not. However, Downs as a break-in-case-of-emergency weapon does move the needle. Ideally, TreVeyon Henderson and Quinshon Judkins can carry the load with true freshmen James Peoples and Sam Williams-Dixon providing depth.

Downs has been floated as a kick or punt returner by fans as well. Last year, Downs returned four punts and scored on one.


caleb downs running back
Photo courtesy: Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK


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