Unfinished business could keep Wells at OSU

January, 1, 2009
1/01/09
12:58
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ohio State running back Chris "Beanie" Wells is the healthiest he's been all season heading into the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

 
 Matthew Emmons/US Presswire
 Chris Wells said he felt like he hadn't "done enough at Ohio State."

"I'm actually able to wear regular shoes now," said Wells, referring to the right big toe injury he suffered in the season opener against Youngstown State. "It feels amazing running around in a lot lighter shoe."

By all accounts, Wells could spend next season endorsing his own shoe as an NFL running back. The 6-foot-1, 237-pound junior is a surefire first-round draft pick, possibly the first running back selected, should he choose to forgo his senior season at Ohio State.

According to Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, Wells doesn't have much of a decision to make. Tressel said Wells likely would be a top-5 pick.

"If it were me [deciding], it wouldn't be tough," Tressel said last month.

Despite the overwhelming evidence suggesting Wells will turn pro, the back didn't sound convinced Thursday morning. In fact, he seemed to leave the door quite open for a return to Columbus.

"I personally feel like I haven't done enough at Ohio State," Wells said, "the things that I wanted to accomplish here to move on to the next level. ... I told [running backs coach Dick] Tressel when I first got here I wanted to be the best to ever come through Ohio State. I've said that in the past in the media before.

"I definitely feel I haven't accomplished that yet."

Winning a national championship, something Ohio State won't do this year, certainly tops Wells' list of unachieved goals. He would once again be a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy if he returns in 2009.

Staying healthy for a full season also would be nice. Wells has dealt with injuries to his ankle, wrist and foot/toe. Though he has remained extremely productive, rushing for 2,700 yards and 23 touchdowns the last two seasons, he doesn't feel his legacy is complete.

"You've got to be up there with Archie," Wells said, referring to two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin. "Archie and Eddie [George], all those great guys, you've got to be up there with them. Heisman, all-time rushing [record], whatever it takes."

When reminded that his predecessor, Antonio Pittman, had also talked about returning as a senior for a run at the Heisman only to turn pro, a smiling Wells said, "I vaguely remember that."

"I don't think it's a hard thing with me," he continued. "Once I sit down and weigh all the other options, I definitely want to be a Buckeye and I want to be the best Buckeye."

Like all underclassmen, Wells has until Jan. 15 to declare for the draft. He said his injury history won't play into his decision one way or another, and neither will the short shelf life of NFL running backs.

As for Jim Tressel's comment?

"It was definitely surprising," he said, "but you really can't say anything about coach Tressel's decisions. It doesn't [affect me] at all. ... I'm just enjoying the moment right now. Whether it's the last game or not, I'm just enjoying it."

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