The Life And Times Of Carlos Hyde

Carlos Hyde's journey has never fit a traditional narrative, but perhaps fittingly, it's brought him back to Florida for the final game of his college career. The Ohio State running back has had to do plenty of refocusing during his time in Columbus, but has still found a goal for Friday after a disappointing end to 2013.

Carlos Hyde isn't where he wants to be right now. Truth be told, he wasn't where he wanted to be earlier this month either.

But all things considered, back home isn't a bad place for the Ohio State running back to end the long and strange journey that's been his college career.

Being back in Miami isn't even a consolation prize so much as it is a homecoming for the Naples, Fla. native, but if Hyde had it his way, he'd be out in Pasadena, Calif. preparing for the BCS National Championship Game. The chances of that happening, of course, came to a halt when Michigan State beat the Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 7, rerouting Hyde's winter travel plans from the West Coast to South Beach.

"We came so close and we worked so hard," Hyde said of OSU's national title aspirations. "To come up short, it hurts."

Pasadena wasn't the only city that Hyde had hoped the visit this month, as the senior also came into the season with dreams of holding the Heisman Trophy.

Those, however, were dashed when he was handed a three-game suspension at the start of the season for what Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer referred to as "conduct not representative of this football program or this university." Hyde had been involved in an altercation with a woman at a Columbus nightclub, but was never charged after the woman alleged that he had hit her.

The suspension effectively ended any hopes Hyde had of ending up in the Big Apple for the presentation of college football's most prestigious trophy, although he did make a case for himself to be considered by rushing for 1,408 yards and scoring 16 total touchdowns. But Ohio State's loss to the Spartans and better numbers by backs who weren't suspended for three games proved to be too much for Hyde to overcoming, leaving him on the outside looking in and wondering what could have been.

"Knowing what I've seen now if I had those three games, yeah, it hurts," he said. "I probably would've got it."

And how many yards would he have rushed for?

"There's not telling," Hyde said with a smile. "I probably would've gotten close to 2,000."

He's not necessarily wrong, but at this point, stat projections are irrelevant. Then again, there's never been much sense in making predictions for the unpredictable Hyde, whose path back to Florida this week has certainly been a unique one.

Raised in Cincinnati, Ohio until the age of 15, Hyde moved to Naples to live with his grandparents, becoming a four-star prospect despite playing just two years of high school football. But before coming back to his original home of Ohio where he had committed to be a part of the Buckeyes' 2009 recruiting class, Hyde first spent a season playing at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia after failing to qualify academically.

Hyde, for his part, views his time in Virginia now as a positive, even if he didn't feel that way at the time.

"That was a little journey right there," Hyde said. "When I first started, my mindset was all wrong. Then when I got in there, my mindset changed. I looked at the good that I had. It just makes you focus on the important things and not take anything for granted."

Upon his arrival at Ohio State, Hyde showed flashes, but not consistent playing time. At one point during his sophomore season in 2011, he even publicly threatened to transfer after he only received three carries following the first 100-yard outing of his college career.

Playing time wasn't an issue for Hyde when Meyer came to town though, with the 6-0, 242-pounder earning All-Big Ten honors in 2012 and 2013. He may not be in his preferred destination of Pasadena, but with plenty of experience of having already done so, Hyde hasn't had any issues finding a new goal to focus on.

"The stat for the most yards in the Orange Bowl is 206 if I'm not wrong," Hyde said. "I'm looking forward to that."

As for being back in the Sunshine State? That works for Hyde too. Although the sting of not being in California is still apparent in his words.

"It's definitely cool. I couldn't have asked for -- I mean, yeah I could have asked for a better way," Hyde said, his voice trailing off. "This is not a bad way to end my career."

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