Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State University
Size: 6-feet and 213 pounds
Age: 22-years-old (1/30/1999)
Born the day before Super Bowl 33, Sermon spent the bulk of his childhood growing up in a Northwestern suburb of Atlanta. Raised by his mother, Natoshia Mitchell, the future running back often cites Mitchell’s resiliency (she authored a book entitled “When My Soul Cried,” which outlines her grappling with, and ultimately overcoming, numerous personal travails) as a motivating factor for his success.
Never one to shy away from contact, Sermon caught the attention of college scouts during his tenure at Sprayberry High. Closing out his senior effort with over 1,200 yards and 16 scores, the then-Yellow Jacket was ranked No. 171 nationally and drew offers from Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. Rather than stay close to home, however, Sermon felt a calling to Oklahoma and made the move to Norman.
A full-season contributor as a true freshman in 2017, Sermon managed three starts and found the end zone five times. The following year, he continued to share the backfield, but his number of starts quadrupled and his touch total increased (12.5/gm). After suffering a torn LCL in November of 2019, however, Sermon decided to transfer to Ohio State, hopeful a new locale would provide him with a workhorse opportunity.
It took a minute, but eventually, Sermon edged out Master Teague III to become the Buckeye’s RB1. His late-season dominance — particularly in the Big Ten Championship Game against Northwestern and the Sugar Bowl versus Clemson — significantly boosted his profile … and potential draft stock.
Unfortunately, Sermon wasn’t able to keep the momentum going, as he was knocked out of the 2021 National Championship Game against Alabama with a collarbone injury. The issue forced him to opt out of the Senior Bowl.
But Sermon’s dominance in 2020 cannot be overstated. The 22-year-old earned PFF’s third-highest-graded season (86.3) for an Ohio State running back since 2014.
Guess who topped him? Only Ezekiel Elliott. Twice.
Pros: Powerful runner, has the build and contact balance repel defenders; clutch performer
Cons: Numerous injuries (back, knee, shoulder) could point to long term durability issues; missing elite speed; limited experience as a pass-catcher
The Big Picture
Where there is a will, there is a way.
No phrase has better described a college prospect than this one does Sermon.
A runner whose determination is evident throughout his ethos, Sermon is a passionate player with formidable size, strength, and power. A north/south runner — but with dimension — he has more lateral ability than you’d expect given his stature.
He’s never going to outrun the defense ... but they’re also going to have a heck of a time taking him down. Employing the kind of stiff arm that makes you wince and cheer at the same time, Sermon uses any and all means necessary to stay on his feet.
While he was underutilized as a receiver in college, the growth potential is evident. His hands are soft and his instincts are solid. He may not be an athletic marvel and (per Eric Edholm’s intel via The Rookie Snapshot Pod) he may not have the most chill of personalities, but his upside is in his consistency — as well as his dauntless belief in himself.
NFL Comp: I see shades of Chris Carson, but a less-athletic Joe Mixon makes for a more accurate comparison.
There’s a real possibility that Sermon could fall to Day Three of the draft.
I think it’s unlikely he’ll make an immediate fantasy impact. Spending his first year running behind an established vet either on a short-term deal or nearing the end of a current contract (think Seattle) makes a lot of sense. I could also see Pittsburgh — a team that has plenty of holes to fill — leaning into the value presented by the position and snagging Sermon late-ish.
In either of those instances, Sermon wouldn’t be a player to draft in August. However, he would be someone to drop FAAB on (and, therefore, needs to stay on your radar), as fresh legs will be even more important in 2021. Plus, this is a player who knows how to make the most of his opportunities, particularly when the lights are the brightest.
Engage with Liz on social @LizLoza_FF