Jason Bainum is a throwback. This spring he graduated from tiny Williamsburg ( Ohio) High as the leading rusher in state history with 8,216 yards, but his story is more newsreel than Sports-Center. Consider Bainum's position: single-wing tailback. Williamsburg coach Ken Osborne installed the antiquated single-wing attack, to take advantage of his 6'1", 200-pound star's myriad skills and to mask the limitations of his 35-player roster. Says Osborne, "He had everything you need."
Not even the coach foresaw the results. Bainum rushed for 1,473 yards and 24 touchdowns as a sophomore. As a junior he ran for 3,043 yards, a state regular-season record. He topped that during his senior year with 3,386 yards, a record he reached in 11 games. (The old mark was set in 15.) On Sept. 28,2001, Bainum broke the state one-game record with 532 yards. Three weeks later he surpassed the state career-rushing mark of 7,761, set in 1983 by Cincinnati Academy of Physical Education (and later Ohio State) tailback Carlos Snow. Bainum also completed 58.5% of his passes for 1,433 career yards and 14 touchdowns.
Bainum is a team player. When TV folks asked to interview him, he insisted his offensive linemen surround him in the shot. "I'm just proud I had the chance to play four years of football with the people I grew up with," he says. His mother, Sue, says that to understand Jason you'd have to see how he reacted one evening last fall when a group of awestruck fifth-and sixth-grade girls heading to a school dance bumped into him as he walked home from practice. They pleaded with him to come along. Some 45 minutes later, to squeals of surprise, a freshly showered Jason arrived at the school and proceeded to dance with every girl.
About the only folks not wowed by Bainum were Division I recruiters. Several schools encouraged him to walk on, but none offered a scholarship. Bainum's relative lack of speed (Osborne says he runs the 40 in about 4.6) and small-school pedigree worked against him. So Bainum will play running back at Division III Capital University in Columbus. Still, his doubters don't get him down. "Now," he says, "I can prove them wrong."