Trey Sermon’s late-season surge should help draft status

Ohio State running back Trey Sermon runs through a drill during Pro Day at Ohio State University on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (Paul Vernon/AP)

Credit: Paul Vernon

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Ohio State running back Trey Sermon runs through a drill during Pro Day at Ohio State University on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (Paul Vernon/AP)

Credit: Paul Vernon

Credit: Paul Vernon

Trey Sermon picked the right time to play his best football.

Over the course of three games near the end of the 2020 season, Sermon drew considerable attention to himself, especially after a career that saw him transfer from Oklahoma to Ohio State after his playing time dipped during his junior season.

But with Sermon suddenly running over any and everyone in his path late in the 2020 season, his draft stock seemed to surge higher than it was in his earlier college football seasons. Sermon, a native of Marietta, had one last chance during Tuesday’s Ohio State pro day to show scouts his measurables, which included a 37-inch vertical jump.

“I showed what I’m capable of, along with my game film,” Sermon said. “I’m happy with my performance. I’m not satisfied because I feel I could have done better but I’m still happy and proud of what I did (at pro day).”

Sermon, who played high school football at Sprayberry, committed to Oklahoma as a four-star running back with high expectations. As a freshman and sophomore, it seemed like Sermon would have a great chance to meet them. During his second season with the Sooners, Sermon ran for 947 yards and 13 touchdowns, topping the century mark four times. This included a game against Texas Tech that saw him tally 26 carries for 206 yards and three touchdowns.

However, Sermon fell to third in the pecking order behind Kennedy Brooks and Rhamondre Stevenson in 2019. Only seeing two games with double-digit carries, he transferred to Ohio State the following offseason.

In a shortened season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Buckeyes only played five regular-season games, with Sermon not running for over 100 yards until the fifth outing against Michigan State. And in that game, he ran for 112 yards on only 10 carries. It was the following week, however, in the Big Ten Championship against Northwestern, that put Sermon on the radar as a bona fide running back prospect.

With quarterback Justin Fields struggling to throw the ball against the Wildcats, the Buckeyes leaned on Sermon, who seemingly couldn’t be slowed or tackled. He bounced off of defenders, ran past them and bulldozed his way for extra yards. In the end, he totaled 29 carries for 331 yards and two touchdowns in a 22-10 victory.

A similar performance manifested itself in the Sugar Bowl against Clemson, with Sermon running for 193 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries in a 49-28 win.

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

His luck seemingly ran out in the national championship against Alabama as he injured his shoulder on his first carry of the game in what turned into a 52-24 loss.

“It was pretty tough not being out there on the field, knowing how well I prepared for that game,” Sermon said. “That was the biggest game of my life. I was definitely ready for it. Getting hurt on that first play was pretty tough. But I know everything happens for a reason.

At 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds, Sermon fits the bill as a power back who also has some pass-catching ability out of the backfield. However, as a running back who isn’t considered to be in the top five of his position, it’s unknown which round he will be selected. Generally speaking, Sermon is expected to be a mid-round pick.

Sermon doesn’t think his injury in the national championship has affected his draft standing.

“As far as my draft status, I feel it wasn’t that significant of an injury that there should be a concern,” Sermon said. “All they have to do is click on the tape and see me playing at a high level. I’m not worried about it at all.”

Even with signing Mike Davis to a two-year deal in free agency, the Falcons could potentially take a running back with one of their nine draft picks. Coach Arthur Smith has stated his desire for the club to be better at running the football, which means an addition to the running back room could be something this team considers.

Sermon will hope his late-season play remains fresh on a lot of NFL executives’ minds. If how he ran against Michigan State, Northwestern and Clemson were indicative of how he will be as a professional, snagging him on day three could end up being a solid investment.

“I feel like whatever team I go to, it’ll be a good fit for me,” Sermon said. “I’ll showcase everything I can do. That’ll be able to help the team win. That’s the biggest focus, just getting the right fit and the right scheme that I can have a big impact on.”

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