Nobody remembers who scaled Mount Everest after Sir Edmund Hillary.
Now the Ohio State football team and coach Urban Meyer head into the offseason with a few question marks on their roster, potentially none bigger than the loss of their own Hillary — senior running back Carlos Hyde.
Hyde became the first running back under Meyer to run for more than 1,000 yards in a single season, finishing off the season as a leader with 1,521 yards in 2013.
Meyer said Hyde has grown up as a player during his time in Columbus.
“(He’s) completely different,” Meyer said Nov. 18. “First off, he’s more mature. I love Carlos. He was immature a couple years ago — like very immature. (Now) he handles his business.”
Although missing the first three games of the season because of a suspension that stemmed from an incident at a Columbus bar in July, Hyde managed to put together what ranks as the seventh greatest season rushing the ball by an OSU player.
He also finishes his career sixth in career rushing yards, just two behind former Buckeye great Keith Byars.
After the Nov. 16 matchup against Illinois when Hyde hit 1,000 yards, the running back said he played like he had to make up for something.
“You know, during my suspension I told myself it’s still possible,” Hyde said. “You just got to go even harder now. That’s exactly how I play … my mindset is, ‘I got to make up time.’ So that’s how I play.”
During the 60-35 victory against Illinois, Hyde had what was potentially his greatest game as an OSU player, rushing for 246 net yards, tied for the third highest single game total in OSU history.
“I watched film and we have a cut out where it’s all explosive runs and I saw other teams have a lot of success on their running plays,” Hyde said. “I kept that in the back of my mind, ‘Just be patient on your runs and let it come to you, and when it comes, just explode.’ That’s exactly what I did.”
Initially after returning from suspension, Hyde was still limited in the offense, only rushing for a combined 126 yards in his first two games back. Hyde ran for more than that two game total in five of the remaining nine games, never failing to eclipse 100 yards.
His run of games breaching the century mark began in a tough battle against then-No. 15 Northwestern. With the Buckeyes trailing 23-13 midway through the third quarter, Meyer turned to Hyde to bring OSU back into the game.
Hyde went on to score three second half touchdowns, to go along with 168 rushing yards on the day, and help push OSU over the top for the 40-30 victory.
After the victory, Hyde was emotional, lamenting the opportunities he missed because of the suspension.
“That suspension, it really hurt not being out there with my brothers because I made a mistake,” Hyde said. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through.”
Now the Buckeyes have to replace their workhorse running back, and his backup, redshirt-senior Jordan Hall.
Although OSU does have young talent returning at running back in freshmen Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliott, Hyde will not be an easy piece of the puzzle to replace.
However, the Buckeyes kick off their season hoping to do just that on Aug. 30 against Navy. Meanwhile, Hyde will have to wait until the 2014 NFL Draft in May to discover his fate. He is rated as a second or third round prospect by CBSSports.
Hyde said after the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl his final season with OSU was a success but that he is looking forward to what comes next.
“Like I said earlier during the season, this season reminds me of my senior year in high school,” Hyde said. “I almost finished pretty much like I finished my senior year in high school, close to 1,600 yards and like 18 touchdowns. So I think I had a pretty good career my last year here.
“I’m looking forward to the next step in my life.”
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