The Buckeye Battle Cry will be counting down the Top 25 players of the past decade all spring/summer. Every Monday and Thursday, Jim will be announcing a new player. Our #1 player will be presented on Monday, August 30th. Three days later, the 2010 season officially begins. To view the previous entries in our Top 25, click here.
Beanie Wells was a big, bruising back who did not hesitate to run a defender over. He also had the speed and quickness to make a cut and be past the defender before they knew what happened. His elite combination of size and speed made him a once in a generation talent and one of the greatest backs ever at Ohio State.
Unfortunately, his bruising running style also led to his greatest weakness; injuries. Constant battles with health issues nagged Wells throughout his career, particularly during his junior season. These health problems led to some serious offensive struggles for Ohio State in his absence, and also prevented him from challenging for the title of greatest ever at Ohio State.
The other factor that prevented Beanie from climbing the ranks of greatest ever was his decision to turn pro after his junior season. He was drafted in the first round, and like all early entries that are drafted that high, you can’t argue with the results. Even though it was the right move for Beanie, leaving school with one year of eligibility left hurts his legacy. Fortunately for him, the only place that really matters is on lists like this one.
While it may seem sacrilegious to imagine a back passing Archie as the all time greatest at Ohio State, if Beanie had stayed healthy and in school for four years, it is very possible that he could have passed Archie in the record books and in the hearts of Ohio State fans. Throw in a national title or two with a 100% healthy Beanie in the backfield (we can dream) and the argument certainly could be made.
As it is, a shortened career due to injuries and an early departure to the NFL hurt Beanie’s legacy and his ranking on this list. Everything else about him makes the case that he belongs at the top.
The 2007 season is the crown jewel of Beanie’s career and the logical place to start when talking about his greatness.
With the fifth most carries (274) and the fourth most yards (1,609) in a season at Ohio State, Beanie had a year for the ages, and he was only a sophomore! Throw in two 200 yard rushing performances, second only to Eddie’s three in ’95, and the season becomes even more impressive.
Oh yeah, and one of those 200 yard games came against Michigan and was the greatest rushing performance ever for a Buckeye against the maize and blue. Looking back, it is easy to see why many fans began having thoughts of “greatest ever” heading into Beanie’s junior year in 2008.
An injury plagued 2008 and an early entry into the draft later and Ohio State fans are left with thoughts of what could have been.
What did happen was still pretty damn good. The fourth most career rushing yards (3,382), the fourth best rushing season (1,609), the third best career rushing yards per game (93.9), the third most 100 yard games (17)… Chris Wells had a helluva career at Ohio State.
As an awesome side note, Beanie had a rushing touchdown of 50+ yards against the maize and blue in three straight games. That fact won’t appear in any record books, but that is a feat that has never happened before and is extremely unlikely to ever occur again.
Beanie left after his junior season and was drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft by the Arizona Cardinals. He rushed for 793 yards (4.5 per carry) and 7 TDs as a rookie with Arizona, and looks to continue his promising young career this season.
For his stiff arm, for his outstanding 2007 season, and simply for being one of the best ever, Beanie Wells is #6 on our countdown of the top 25 buckeyes of the last decade.