TreVeyon Henderson reminds OSU writer of Archie Griffin’s escape
Editor’s Note: Bill Rabinowitz has been at The Dispatch since 1999 and has been the author of Ohio State football beats since 2011.
I couldn’t help but have flashbacks watching first-year TreVeyon Henderson run for 277 yards on Saturday for Ohio State against Tulsa.
Forty-nine years ago I saw another freshman set a Buckeye race record. I was 8 in 1972 when my dad took me to see Ohio State play in North Carolina in a seemingly ordinary non-conference game.
For me, going to Ohio State games was a cherished thing. I grew up in Dayton, the only boy among my parents’ four children. My sisters had little interest in sports. My father was grateful that I shared his passion for them.
Every year we went to a few Reds games – I was spoiled by the Big Red Machine – a few Bengals games and a lot of University of Dayton basketball games. And usually one or two Ohio State games. My parents met when they were students in Ohio State, so I knew there was a special connection for him.
I remember an OSU-Michigan State game when I was 5 in 1969. We sat in the stands on the south side of the stadium. These bleachers were only one floor, like one would find in a high school stadium. I could barely see the players once they got past the 30-yard line. But I was captivated by the spectacle of an Ohio State game.
Going to games wasn’t all glamorous. We parked in a cow pasture. Literally. You had to avoid you-know-what by heading towards the stadium. For years, smell has been the sense I have most associated with Ohio State football.
Of all the games we’ve been to, two stood out. One was the Oklahoma game of 1977. As soon as I saw Uwe Von Schamann wave his hand to the crowd during a time-out designed to freeze him, I knew he would make this damn field. goal. He did.
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The other unforgettable game was the 1972 game. It was a generation before the Internet and long before recruiting sites allowed fans to get to know the players before they arrived on campus. All we had were game programs, and it wasn’t long before everyone rushed for theirs to answer a question: who was this No.45 running around and through the defense of North Carolina?
It was on this day that all Buckeye fans heard about Archie Griffin. From our seats in the corner of C Deck, I watched this Columbus freshman sneak around the defenders and ignore those who had yet to learn that it was nearly impossible to tackle the Griffin of 5. feet 8 inches. Maybe the coolest thing for me was watching the fan excitement around the time the star was born. I was only 8 years old. Almost everything was new and wonderful to me. To see adults with the same joy at discovering new talent has been a revelation.
Griffin ran for 239 yards that day. Two years later, he won the Heisman Trophy. As a senior, he would become the first, and still the only, player to win a second Heisman. His professional career with the Bengals is often seen as a disappointment, but it’s far better than most people remember.
Griffin is perhaps Buckeye’s most popular player of all time, and only in part because of his exploits on the pitch. He’s a really nice and honest man. I consider one of the perks of my job that I got to know it a little bit.
I’m just getting to know TreVeyon Henderson. Virginia’s five-star rookie appears to be a down-to-earth young man whose self-confidence is tempered by humility. During preseason camp, you would hear comments about the “wow” plays Henderson had made in practice, and his 75-yard touchdown on a swing pass against Minnesota validated the hype. On Saturday he broke Griffin’s freshman racing record, showing some of the same elusive, vision, and power I had seen from Griffin.
I can only hope there was an 8 year old in the Horseshoe with the same wonder I felt almost half a century ago watching Griffin. This child will never forget it.