Ohio State running backs 'pretty surprised' when coach left for Michigan

Apr. 4—COLUMBUS — Ohio State fans were caught off guard when running backs coach Tony Alford left after the start of spring practice to take the same position at Michigan.

So were Ohio State running backs.

"Pretty surprised," said Quinshon Judkins, who enrolled at Ohio State in January after transferring from Mississippi. "I just got here not too (long) ago, but I understood it. I just came here and continue to work."

Dallan Hayden is entering his third season at Ohio State, but he had a similar reaction.

"I mean, it was tough," Hayden said. "Coach Alford was a big part of why I came to Ohio State, so to see him leave was sad, but you know, he has a family to take care of so I completely understood."

By the end of March, both had moved on, and they welcomed Alford's replacement, Carlos Locklyn, this week.

That process likely was eased by both having already met him.

Locklyn spent more than a decade coaching in Hayden's hometown, Memphis, Tenn., first at the high school level then at the University of Memphis.

Then he spent a year at Florida State, where Judkins was a recruiting target.

Judkins and Locklyn also were able to bond over both growing up in the Birmingham, Ala., area.

"So our relationship has been since I was in high school," Judkins said. "He was previously at Florida State and throughout that whole recruiting process, just building on our relationship then and knowing who he was before we got here. So it's been awesome to see him and continue that."

Both backs said Locklyn, who was hired Monday night, eased his way into the first practice with the Buckeyes on Wednesday.

"First day he didn't really talk that much, he gave us some tips and certain things to work on," Judkins said. "And he's learning our offense because he just got here so I think he's been great so far."

Technically, Locklyn is the third Ohio State running backs coach of the spring.

After Alford kicked things off, head coach Ryan Day handled things in the interim while he searched for a permanent replacement.

Hayden and Judkins said that was an interesting situation that had some positives.

"Coach Day has been awesome," Judkins said. "He's taught us a lot of different things as far as scheme and different positions that he's coached overall,.

"To have coach Day in those meetings teaching us everything that he's put in and implemented it into our game and showing us how he specifically wants it was really good.

"Just really like not only looking at it from a running back perspective, but also as a quarterback as well looking at certain reads, certain blitzes from other players and just looking at it all around."

Judkins also expressed no hard feelings toward Alford even though he left not long after helping convince him to join the program.

"Oh, just with the situation of college football, where it is today, I understood," Judkins said. "Coach Alford had to do what was best for him, but I'm here at Ohio State, not only just for everything around it, but I'm just here for the university in itself. So I think just focusing on the bigger picture, and the brotherhood that's here and what's important to me, that's what I was focusing on throughout everything."