CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- At 5-foot-9 and 206 pounds, Ohio running back Beau Blankenship can be a tough guy to spot bursting through the line, surrounded by man-mountain offensive and defensive linemen. When defenders try to tackle him, though, they can't help but take notice.
The Bobcats' hard-charging redshirt senior has never been one to turn away a handoff, and is ready to bowl over anyone in his way. That allowed him to climb among the Football Bowl Subdivision's top rushers in 2012 and makes him a player Marshall's defense has to watch when the Herd and Bobcats play at 8 p.m. Saturday at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio (ESPNews).
"I don't mind it at all," Blankenship said. "That's what I grew up doing and that's what I'm used to doing."
Blankenship got really used to it last season. He carried the ball 312 times last season for 1,604 yards - the ninth-best total in the Football Bowl Subdivision - and 15 touchdowns. He broke the 100-yard barrier in nine of 13 games, including his 102-yard performance in Ohio's 27-24 win over Marshall.
He carried the ball at least 21 times in eight 2012 games, with a high of 43 for 269 yards in a win over Massachusetts. Those workhorse numbers meant a lot of achy mornings and tough times rolling out of bed, but for Blankenship, it was part of the job.
"Sometimes it was kind of hard on your body, but I was used to it and expecting it," he said. "I wasn't shocked about it. I was used to being sore. You still get sore no matter how many times you get hit."
Ohio Coach Frank Solich certainly appreciated the effort. With Blankenship and quarterback Tyler Tettleton leading the way, the Bobcats finished 9-4 with a win over Louisiana-Monroe in the Independence Bowl.
"Beau had to carry the workload for us last year and Beau did a great job of that," Solich said. "He's a tough, physical-minded young man who wants all the carries he can get."
He hasn't gotten the volume of carries so far that he did last year. Blankenship and senior Ryan Boykin have carried the ball at a 50-50 split in the first two games of 2013. Each has 26 carries to his name. Blankenship has gained 105 yards, while Boykin has gained 132 yards with a touchdown.
It's Boykin's improved health - he played just seven games due to injury last season, gaining 445 yards - that has allowed Solich to more evenly divide the carries this season. That should keep both backs strong into the later games of 2013, Blankenship said.