Could Caleb Downs Challenge for the Heisman Trophy as a 2-Way Player in 2024?

    After Caleb Downs traded the Crimson Tide for scarlet and grey, could he contend for the Heisman as a two-way player on the Buckeyes in 2024?

    Not since 1997 with Michigan sensation Charles Woodson has a two-way player won the Heisman Trophy. But now, the Wolverines’ greatest rival, the Ohio State Buckeyes, might add to the club.

    Buckeyes coach Ryan Day revealed this week that new safety Caleb Downs will potentially see the field at running back. After establishing himself as one of the top safeties in his freshman season last year at Alabama, could the five-star transfer challenge for the Heisman Trophy as a two-way player in 2024?

    Caleb Downs 2-Way Play Discussed During Recruiting

    Downs led the Crimson Tide and finished fourth in the SEC in tackles with 107 last year, becoming the first freshman to do so in Alabama’s history.

    Along with that, Downs added two interceptions, five passes defended, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery and was named the SEC Freshman of the Year and an All-American his first season out of high school.

    Nick Saban’s retirement prompted Downs to enter the portal, giving him his pick of college football’s top-tier litter. He quickly chose Ohio State with part of the recruiting pitch from head coach Ryan Day revolving around playing on offense.

    “It was part of the recruiting process, possibly doing a little bit of running back as well,” Day said in a meeting with the media on Tuesday. ”It’s something he wanted to do. We’ve been having him in some of the meetings and some of the individual drills as a possibility there if needed down the road as we continue to build depth at that position.”

    Downs wouldn’t be a fish out of water on offense, having carved up the gridiron a bit as a high school all-purpose athlete. He rushed for 20 touchdowns on 57 carries his senior year, picking up 389 yards on the ground while playing running back, quarterback, and receiver, on top of continuing to play safety.

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    Downs has proven on the defensive side that he is one of the best athletes in the nation, but he’ll have to contend with a gauntlet of talented running backs in the Buckeyes’ backfield to prove he can play on both sides.

    Along with first-team All-Big Ten RB TreVeyon Henderson, Ohio State added first-team All-SEC RB Quinshon Judkins from Ole Miss.

    While Downs has the athletic ability to challenge for the Heisman Trophy, it’s not likely it will translate into the game’s greatest accolade this season.

    The two-play plan for Downs is in its tentative stage, with Day saying Downs has only met with the running backs and participated sparingly on offense in the spring.

    Woodson didn’t win the Heisman until his junior season, so there’s still time for the sophomore to get extended reps and make history.

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