June 28, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Wells weighing his options


Special to The Gazette

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Beanie Wells has something nagging him.

And for once it is not a hamstring or foot injury.

The Ohio State junior running back said Thursday in his first appearance before the media since the Michigan game that he hasn’t made a decision on making the jump to the NFL.

If it was purely a financial decision, then Wells, who has 10 brothers and sisters, wouldn’t be worried about the Jan. 15 deadline to declare for the next level. But Wells has other issues he is weighing as well.

When Wells came to campus from Akron Garfield High, he expected to leave as one the program’s best, and in his mind Archie Griffin, Eddie George and others haven’t been displaced as of yet.

That just might be enough to bring Wells back to Columbus.

“(My career) is really not big enough yet for my satisfaction,” he said. “I have so many more things I would like to accomplish. Whether that happens remains to be seen, but I wanted to be the best running back at Ohio State. I feel like I haven’t done that. When you have an opportunity to do it, sometimes you have to jump on the opportunity while it’s there.”

After rushing for 1,609 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore, that lofty goal wasn’t farfetched and the 6-foot-1, 240-pounder entered this season as the Heisman Trophy favorite.

Then the opening game of the year led to a toe injury that forced him to miss the next three games. He finished with 1,091 yards in nine games and eight touchdowns. Wells had explosive moments, but his historical plans were imploded.

Whether or not his legacy is enough to turn down first-round money — ESPN’s Todd McShay has his projected as the 12th pick — is debatable.

“I haven’t made my full decision yet,” Wells said. “I don’t want to say I am leaning toward staying or leaning toward going. I just want to say I do want to be the best Buckeye to ever come through this.”

Fullback Brandon Smith said he is unsure about Wells’ decision, but knows how much his return would mean to the program.

“He plays with so much emotion and fire,” Smith said. “We all feed off of Beanie. He has to do what is best for him, but if came back we would be that much better.”

One of the interesting storylines that came out of Columbus before the Buckeyes made the trip to Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl was Ohio State coach Jim Tressel saying Wells shouldn’t even bother sending in evaluation papers to the NFL because it is obvious he’s a top five pick and if Tressel was in Wells’ position, it would be an easy decision.

“I really didn’t have a reaction to that (comment),” Wells said. “That’s how he felt. It was definitely surprising.”

Wells said he is focused on No. 3 Texas heading into the No. 10 Buckeyes’ game on Monday, and not his difficult decision. There will be time for that afterward when he will speak with his family, found out their needs, and coach Tressel.

For now, he’s just enjoying being healthy for once, the Arizona sun and the royal treatment the players are given at the Fiesta Bowl.

“A lot of guys just like to enjoy the moment,” Wells said. “We’re not thinking about the future too much. Live day by day and enjoy being in college. You only get that time once in your life. Once you leave college, you’re never, ever going to get back. Me personally, I love college. I’m enjoying it to the best of my ability.”

Skoda may be reached at sports@ohio.net.