Wells had to go pro despite unfinished business

January, 8, 2009
1/08/09
4:18
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

As he said last week, Chris "Beanie" Wells has unfinished business at Ohio State.

He could have won the Heisman Trophy in 2009. He could have rushed for 1,800 yards. He could have helped Ohio State win a BCS bowl or maybe even reach the national title game. He could have torched Michigan again. And he could have joined Archie and Eddie as one of the greatest running backs ever to wear Scarlet and Gray.

But in the end, business trumped unfinished business for Wells. He made a business decision Thursday to enter the NFL draft, and a very good one at that.

When you're a fail-safe first-round pick and widely projected to be one of the first two running backs selected, you turn pro and never look back. The lifespan of NFL running backs is simply too short, and Wells wouldn't have improved his pro stock much more with another year in college.

Many will point to Wells' injuries and wonder what might have been, and to a certain extent, they're right. If healthy for an entire season, Wells could put up some insane numbers. NFL personnel evaluators surely will have concerns about Wells' durability in the pros, which makes sense.

But when I watched Wells run this fall, I saw the most NFL-ready back in the country. His powerful, one-cut, downhill style will translate perfectly to the next level. Despite missing three games with a foot injury that never fully healed, Wells ranked sixth nationally in rushing average (119.7).

Ohio State will move ahead with Dan "Boom" Herron, who gained valuable experience behind Wells this fall and will enter the 2009 season as the team's featured back. Though Herron is a different type of player than Wells, he's deceptively strong and can get to the end zone, as he showed by scoring the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter Monday night against Texas in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

Brandon Saine also will compete for carries, and Ohio State will sign standout prep running backs Jaamal Berry and Carlos Hyde in February.

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