Following an unexpected redshirt season in 2013, sophomore Bri'onte Dunn is battling to become Ohio…
In two short years, Hyde went from tweeting his displeasure about the way he was being used in the offense to the bell cow of the Ohio State attack, rushing for 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns a season ago.
"It's really incredible," Drayton said. "He's a great example for us right now, indirectly, and he's been the best example for us off the field – how he grew into manhood, how he became unselfish and the football field became more about his teammates.
"Those are the things that we harp on person-to-person in that room, and actually we share with the whole entire team. That was a transformation of a boy going into manhood, a guy that has made some mistakes, has confessed his mistakes, that has gone on to do some great things."
And as Drayton said, it doesn't hurt to turn on the film to see the player Hyde became, either. A bruising back who was capable of putting the entire offense on his shoulders, Hyde became in many ways the engine of the Ohio State offense a year ago, topping 100 yards in nine straight games and breaking the 200-yard mark twice on the way to becoming Urban Meyer's first 1,000-yard RB despite missing three games of the season for his suspension in an off-field situation.
Hyde also broke down in tears in front of the media after his three touchdowns allowed Ohio State to stave off Northwestern's upset bid last October, a physical manifestation of exactly how much the second chance meant to him – and of how he had accepted his part in his troubles and moved on.
That's a big deal to Drayton, who sees that example filtering down to Hyde's former teammates. In particular it appears to have been heard loud and clear by senior Roderick Smith, who goes into his final season looking to make his biggest impact on the field – while also serving as the leader in the locker room that Drayton wants.
"I'm trying to pass on what I know so they won't make the same mistakes that I made," Smith said of his younger teammates. "It was just growing up. I'm 22 now, you know what I'm saying? All of that stuff, I was young, immature, but I've grown up a lot. We've talked about it as a team. The team sees me growing and my running back group sees me growing. I've helped them out. All I can do is help them to not make the mistakes and just keep getting better."
Drayton has noticed the effort that Smith has put in.
"I definitely see him trying to do that," Drayton said. "I really do. Any time you have a young man who can self-reflect on his mistakes like he did with you in front of his teammates – it's easy to do it with you, it ain't so easy to do in front of his brothers. That's what he's doing right now in front of his brothers. To me, that shows leadership.
"He's standing in front of them saying, ‘Hey, these are the mistakes that I've made. You're not going to make them. You know why? Because I'm not going to let you.' That's the kind of special stuff that goes on in our room. I want to keep it special, so I won't expose everything, but I really love the bond that we're developing in that room."