Kyle Robertson-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Robertson-USA TODAY Sports

49ers trade up to make Ohio State RB Trey Sermon a 3rd-round draft pick

Apr 30, 2021 at 7:49 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers selected Ohio State running back Trey Sermon with the 25th pick (No. 88 overall) in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

The 49ers traded picks Nos. 117 and 121 to the Los Angeles Rams to acquire this selection.

Sermon carried the football 116 times for 870 yards with four rushing touchdowns while adding 12 receptions for 95 yards through eight games as a senior in 2020, per Sports Reference. The running back's best statistical season came in 2018 when he rushed for 947 yards and 13 touchdowns on 164 carries.

Sermon had 2,946 rushing yards on 455 attempts with 26 rushing touchdowns through his four collegiate seasons.

Justin Melo of The Draft Network recently spoke with Sermon and asked the running back to share his thoughts on splitting carries in an NFL offense.

"I'm definitely prepared for it," Sermon responded. "I've been splitting carries my entire career. I'm used to competing with great running backs. Competition is a good thing. We can complement one another and make each other better."

Sermon is from Marietta, GA. He earned a pre-draft grade of 6.18 from, which equates to a "good backup who could become a starter," per the site's 8-point grading scale. The running back feels he can do it all, though.

"You're getting a playmaker," Sermon told 49ers team reporter Keiana Martin. "I'm a versatile running back. I can run routes, catch the ball, I can protect the quarterback, and I make guys miss." projected Sermon to be a third- or fourth-round draft pick.

"My mother is the one that really motivates me and keeps me going," Sermon shared with Melo. "She's my motivation. The way she's taken care of our family, seeing how she persevered through all of her adversity is what keeps me going. It lets me know that I can get through anything as long as I keep the right mindset.

"No matter what challenges I face, I know that I can get through them because I'm stronger than that. As long as I stay positive and keep working, I can overcome anything."

Below is the draft profile bio on Sermon:

Given Trey's last name, it's no surprise he has "Trust" tattooed on one bicep and "God" inked on the other. Oklahoma fans had been offering their praise to the heavens that Sermon signed with the Sooners as a top-100 overall recruit nationally from Marietta, Georgia. He enrolled a semester early and became an immediate contributor, starting three of 14 games played (121 carries, 744 yards, 6.1 yards per carry, five touchdowns; 16 receptions, 139 yards, 8.7 average, two touchdowns). Sermon started 12 of 14 games in 2018, garnering honorable mention All-Big 12 honors after leading the team with 13 rushing touchdowns (164 carries, 947 yards, 5.8 yards per carry; 12 receptions, 181 yards, 15.1 average). Injuries limited him in 2019, however, and he could only play in nine games with four starts (54 carries, 385 yards, 7.1 yards per carry, four touchdowns; eight receptions, 71 yards, 8.9 average, one touchdown). He transferred to Ohio State after the season; the Buckeyes were in the hunt for his services in the recruiting process out of high school. He rushed 116 times for 870 yards and four touchdowns (12 receptions, 95 yards, 7.9 average in eight games, two starts) in 2020. He came on strong at the end of the year, rushing for 331 yards in the Big Ten Championship Game and 193 yards in the College Football Playoff semifinal against Clemson (adding four receptions for 61 yards). Unfortunately, Sermon only carried once in the national title game before a shoulder injury sidelined him. He accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl but was not able to participate in practices or the game due to the injury. -- by Chad Reuter

Lance Zierlein of wrote the following about Sermon within his scouting report:

Great-looking running back at a quick glance, but one who suffers from inconsistency in creativity and decisiveness. The regular-season tape at Ohio State was fairly disappointing relative to the talent he showed at Oklahoma, but his monster postseason should quell some concerns. At both schools, the interior vision and decision-making was suspect and would run him into some traffic. He does have potential as an outside-zone back, where he has more time and space to utilize his skills. He has size and open-field speed and will step up and handle his business in pass protection, as well as catch it out of the backfield. So, while Sermon's skill level as a runner is somewhat average, his potential as a three-down backup with upside should create middle-round interest.

Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network wrote the following about Sermon within his scouting report:

Ohio State running back Trey Sermon is one of the hottest running back prospects in football on the heels of an offensive explosion amid the Ohio State Buckeyes' run to the National Championship game. Sermon wrangled the primary ball-carrier duties after splitting the load for much of the season with Master Teague III and has made the most of his opportunities; shredding two high-profile defenses in high-profile games. Sermon's skill set and production will be the latest argument against drafting running backs high in the draft—Sermon is expected to be a mid-round prospect thanks to some inefficiencies and a lack of production on third downs; but on a team that runs inside and split zone with success, Sermon can be super productive (just as he was in such concepts for the Buckeyes down the stretch). Sermon has the physicality, contact balance, ball security, and toughness to be an early-down back and shoulder the majority of the load for an NFL team—he'll be an economic option for zone-based teams looking to boost their ground game and add some toughness into the mix. As an added bonus, between his tenure at Oklahoma and his one season at Ohio State, Sermon has not logged 200-plus carries in a single season; there's reason to believe that there should be plenty of life left in his legs for a significant long-term return on investment.

Pro Football Focus wrote the following about Sermon:

All Sermon wanted after three years at Oklahoma was a chance for a bell-cow workload. We wanted to see that too after he put up some of the best elusive numbers in the country early in his Sooners career. Sermon finally got that chance late in the season at Ohio State, and the world saw what he is capable of. He broke 24 tackles on 60 carries and racked up 524 rushing yards between the Big Ten title game and playoff semifinal. The Northwestern and Clemson defenses he faced were no slouches, either. Sermon is a well-built 215 pounds with terrific contact balance. While an average athlete for the position, he's good enough to produce in the league.

Dane Brugler of The Athletic wrote the following about Sermon:

A one-year starter at Ohio State, Sermon shared the workload in head coach Ryan Day's zone run scheme, flourishing on outside zone and duo runs. Learning a new system and returning from a knee injury, he sputtered over his first four games with the Buckeyes, but he was the best player on that offense over a three-game stretch (636 rushing yards, 9.1 yards per carry, four touchdowns) that advanced OSU to the national title game, breaking Eddie George's single-game rushing record with 331 yards against Northwestern in the Big Ten title game. With his vision and agility, Sermon is skilled at settling his feet, dropping his hips to center his gravity and making coordinated jump cuts 􏰎 all in a fluid motion to force missed tackles. He tends to be a long-striding, upright runner in space, which will make it tough for him to create chunk plays versus speedy NFL defenders. Overall, Sermon is inconsistent as an inside power runner, but his combination of vision, balance and cutting skills are intriguing traits for an outside zone scheme. He projects as a quality rotational back with third-down value.


Height: 6-0
Weight: 215 lbs.
Arm length: 33.375 inches
Hand length: 9.375 inches


  • Attended Sprayberry (Marietta, GA) HS where ran for 1,227 yds. and 16 TDs on 166 carries as a senior in 2016.
  • Earned a degree in human relations from Oklahoma.
  • Son of Odell Sermon and Natoshia Mitchell.
  • Born An'treyon Sermon (1/30/99) in Marietta, GA.

Other Notes

  • Cites his mother, Natoshia, as one of his biggest inspirations for the resilience she's displayed throughout her life. Her book entitled, "When My Soul Cried" and her nonprofit organization Arise By Faith supports victims of domestic abuse. "I attribute a lot of his success to the strength of his mom," said Billy Shackelford, Sermon's former coach at Sprayberry (Marietta, GA) HS. "His mom is a phenomenal lady. She brings both bags of tricks: she's tough, but also nurturing and loving."
  • Born the day before Super Bowl XXXIII, in which his hometown team Atlanta Falcons appeared, his mother looked at him and said, "This is going to be you one day."
  • Drawing inspiration from his last name, he developed the nicknames 'Preacher' and 'Minister (of the End Zone)' from his teammates.

College Statistics
Year School Class G Att Yds Avg TD
2017 Oklahoma FR 13 121 744 6.1 5
2018 Oklahoma SO 14 164 947 5.8 13
2019 Oklahoma JR 10 54 385 7.1 4
2020 Ohio State SR 8 116 870 7.5 4
Total 455 2,946 6.5 26

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