Ohio State football running back Evan Pryor expected to miss season with knee injury

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Ohio State running back Evan Pryor is expected to miss the season after suffering a knee injury in practice on Monday, The Dispatch confirmed.

The development, which was first reported by Rivals.com, leaves the Buckeyes thin on depth at the position with only three healthy scholarship running backs.

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Pryor redshirted as a freshman last season after appearing in four games, but his versatile skillset made him an intriguing part of the backfield rotation entering this fall.

In the spring game in April, he showed off his pass-catching ability with four catches for 44 yards in addition to rushing for 62 yards and a touchdown.

Speaking with reporters on the day after preseason training camp opened earlier this month, running backs coach Tony Alford acknowledged Pryor’s readiness for a larger role after a productive offseason.

“He’s grown up, as he should,” Alford said.

He added that Pryor, who was deep down on the depth chart a year ago, wasn’t ready then to see significant snaps, needing to grow physically and mentally.

Over his four appearances in 2021, Pryor saw 21 carries, rushing for 98 yards and one touchdown.

“I’m very excited about the prospects for him,” Alford said on Aug. 5. Following Monday’s practice, Pryor tweeted, “Learning how to embrace the obstacles life may throw your way.”

Pryor, a former top-100 recruit, was a part of the same recruiting class as TreVeyon Henderson, who broke out in his debut season last fall to rush for 1,255 yards and 15 touchdowns. Miyan Williams, a redshirt sophomore, remains as a complement to Henderson.

The loss likely puts Dallan Hayden, a newly arrived freshman and the only other scholarship back, in position for a bigger role in the rotation.

Hayden, who enrolled earlier this summer, popped a couple of impressive runs in an intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday, offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said two days later.

“He’s learning,” Wilson said. “A freshman. A little bit overwhelmed. But he’s got some speed and explosiveness.”

Walk-on Cayden Saunders, the son of former Buckeyes tight end Cedric Saunders, could see some carries too.

Part of the Buckeyes’ depth issue at running back also stems from the loss of Marcus Crowley, who medically retired following spring practice.

With Crowley on the roster last season, they started out with five scholarship backs instead of four.

Joey Kaufman covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at jkaufman@dispatch.com or on Twitter @joeyrkaufman.

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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State football: Evan Pryor out for season with knee injury