Cody Cousino / Photo editor
Ohio State fans will finally get to see senior running back Daniel “Boom” Herron in action this Saturday against Illinois, but maybe not in the role they had thought.
Head coach Luke Fickell said in his weekly press conference Tuesday that Herron will get some touches against the Illini, but the depth chart still shows junior Jordan Hall and sophomore Carlos Hyde as the starter and backup, respectively.
“You might see Dan initially on special teams,” Fickell said. “Whether he’s on the kickoff team or whether he’s on the kickoff return team.”
Herron has five career kickoff returns for a total of 117 yards, an average of 23.4 yards per return.
He has not returned a kick since his sophomore year in 2009.
Coming into the season, Herron led all active Big Ten players with 2,194 yards rushing and 30 rushing touchdowns. Those touchdowns came in 23 different contests, in which the Buckeyes are 20-3.
Before serving a six-game NCAA suspension for receiving improper benefits and being overpaid for work, Herron posted three 100-yard games in OSU’s final five regular season contests in 2010, including a career-high 190 yards against Penn State.
“Dan is a big part of who we are,” Fickell said. “That’s … not just what we’ve missed from him on the field, but in the locker room, off the field and in the huddle.”
Herron averaged 88.8 yards per game last year for the Buckeyes, while OSU’s top two running backs this season, Hall and Hyde, are averaging 66.2 and 66.7, respectively.
Besides Herron’s offensive production, Fickell also said the team will benefit from Herron’s passion and confidence level.
“That’s something that we’re going to try and ride,” he said. “In order to do that he’s going have to have a hand in it … and he will.”
Fickell said Herron will have to earn his starting position back by competing in practice over the next few weeks.
“Like we said seven or eight weeks ago, we’re going to continue to get better and when those guys are available they’ll compete to get themselves back in there,” he said. “We know we’re going to need them all. Boom’s good with that.”
Fifth-year senior linebacker Tony Jackson said Herron has made his presence felt in practice while serving his suspension.
“(Dan’s) a fired-up guy, you should see him in practice when he was on scout team,” Jackson said. “He was giving us the best looks we could imagine.”
Jackson echoed Fickell in saying that Herron’s energy will be a boost for the team.
“Having that kind of spirit, having that kind of emotion on the road is definitely going to help us out,” Jackson said.