LIMA — At least three of the running backs selected in this year’s NFL draft were described at some point by their teams or in the media as “Eddie George-type” running backs.
Eighteen years after he won the Heisman Trophy in 1995 at Ohio State and nine years after his NFL career ended, George is still one of the standards by which running backs are judged.
“Those three were not drafted in the first round, though, so I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not,” George said, with a smile, before speaking at Ohio State-Lima’s Spring for Scholarships dinner at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Monday night. “But it’s good to have those comparisons.”
In the minds of Ohio State fans, there are few running backs who can compare with George.
He holds the season record for rushing yards at OSU with 1,927 in his Heisman Trophy season. He all but engraved his name on that trophy when he set the Buckeyes’ single game record with 314 yards against Illinois in the next-to-last regular season game in 1995.
He was a first-round draft choice of the Houston Oilers and played nine seasons for that franchise, which later became the Tennessee Titans. He finished his career with one season for the Dallas Cowboys. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in seven of his first nine seasons in the NFL.
Since retiring, he has been involved in several business ventures and earned a master’s degree in business administration from Northwestern University. He is a college football analyst for Fox Sports and in December was hired by Ohio State to work as a fundraiser and mentor to student-athletes.
“I came to the university as a student-athlete, really an athlete first,” George said. “But I got an education and now I can come back and bring all my experiences, all my stories and engage the students and help them have a wonderful experience at Ohio State.”
Some other thoughts from George about Ohio State and college football:
— On his first meeting with Urban Meyer: “I knew of Urban when he was at Bowling Green and when he went to Utah and his entire career, but I didn’t know him personally.
“I had a chance to talk to him at the 2008 national championship game when we worked together for Fox. We didn’t really get to know each other but he did say something to me then that if there was one job he would want to take, it would be Ohio State and I was like, ‘OK, whatever.’ But a few years later, he is the head coach.”
— On getting to know Urban Meyer better: “I’ve had time to sit down and talk to him for a few hours and have lunch with him and he is what he is. He’s a no-nonsense guy who creates a culture of being highly competitive the moment you walk into the facility. He’s going to get results whether you like it or not. He’s going to find those results.”
—-On Ohio State’s running backs: “I think this year’s backfield has the potential to be one of the best backfields in the country.
“When you look at Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde, Rod Smith and Jordan Hall, I think they have opportunity to put up some really big numbers, especially with the offensive lineman coming back leaner and meaner than a year ago and playing with an attitude.
“They’re really excited. I know they are because I saw them working out today really hard on a day when they didn’t have to.”
— On Ohio State playing more night games than ever at home: “That’s the key to recruiting. A lot of kids now, I think they want to play under the lights. When you play those games in the afternoon, you’re not quite awake, they’re not as exciting as night games.
“You’re not letting the crowd lather up to take full advantage of your home field. I’m definitely a proponent of having more night games because it will attract big-time recruits because you’re playing in prime time.”
— On college football going to a four-team playoff system in 2014: “For years, people have been crying for a better system, a system that is going to have it out on the field and not allow computers and coaches to decide who the champion is going to be.
“It’s not a perfect system. You’re always going to have that fifth team that is out that is saying they deserve to be in the national championship picture. But I think four is a good number starting out. I like where it’s going because you get to settle the championship on the field.”