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Tony Alford has no worries as Ohio State looks to fill out the 2020 running back class. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football Recruiting

Buckeyes will be ‘fine’ at RB, Nebraska DB wants to visit

Stay in touch or be left out because Ohio State recruiting is a 24-hour, seven-day-per-week obsession. What’s the latest news as the Buckeyes build for the future? Get that and more Sunday through Thursday on Lettermen Row. Thursday’s notebook has updates from a pair of Buckeyes assistants and introduces a talented defensive back from Nebraska who has Ohio State interest.

Tony Alford confident Ohio State will be ‘fine’ with RB recruiting

We’ve been beating the drum about the 2020 running back situation for much of the last month. And on multiple occasions, Lettermen Row recommended patience as Ohio State tries to recover from the shock it received when Bijan Robinson and Jaylan Knighton changed their minds and committed elsewhere at the end of July.

Though the Buckeyes aren’t allowed to speak on specific recruits, coaches are often asked about recruiting in roundabout ways during media availabilities, and that was the case on Wednesday night. Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford was asked about his position group and what the forecast is come signing day.

“We’ll be fine,” Alford told the media gathered at his table. “Put it that way. We’re going to get the guys that want to be here.”

I know that sounds cliche. It may feel like Alford is deflecting because every school in America gets the guys that want to be at their school, right?

Kind of, I guess. There’s obviously a lot Alford wants to say that he’s not allowed to, but there’s an underlying kernel of truth that isn’t being talked about much at this point. Sometimes, in getting hurt now, there’s no chance of getting stung later.

Yes, Robinson and Knighton pulled back on their privately-offered commitments, and in doing so threw Ohio State for a loop. But if the issues that caused their change of hearts didn’t cause the flip in July, there’s a pretty good chance they would have persisted and caused a similar problem in November or December. If these kids had family working to keep them away from Ohio State this early in the process, those protestations would have only increased as time drew nearer to their expected departure dates.

It would have then been much harder for the Buckeyes to readjust and really be “fine” in 2020.

Nebraska defensive back wants to check out Ohio State

Ohio State has rarely gone to Nebraska to find football talent — and I can’t find a single case of a Nebraskan signing with the Buckeyes in the last 50 years. But there’s a big-time talent developing in Omaha in the 2021 cycle. His name is Avante Dickerson, and he’s the country’s eighth-ranked 2021 cornerback and the top-ranked player in Nebraska.

The Buckeyes are aware of the 6-foot, 170-pound junior.

“I actually talked to Ohio State last Tuesday,” Dickerson told Lettermen Row. “I talked to a lot of their coaches, including Ryan Day and Jeff Hafley. The message was just that I was a high priority for them.

“I like Coach Hafley a lot. He’s coached a lot of defensive backs in the NFL, now he’ll be putting them in the NFL. That’s a good thing for me.”

Despite growing up in Nebraska, Dickerson was a fan of the Florida Gators and not the local Cornhuskers. Maybe that’s why he suggests there’s little-to-no pressure on him to stay close to home for college and play for Scott Frost as he tries to reinvigorate that Big Ten West program.

“I don’t see it as pressure,” Dickerson, who has family in Ohio, said. “I just see this as a one-time thing. I’m going to enjoy this process, and wherever I feel the most comfortable, that’s where I’ll commit to.”

The Buckeyes offered Dickerson in June following a one-day camp appearance in Columbus, and he’s hoping to get back for another visit this season.

“I’m going to come to visit, and hopefully it’ll be for a game,” Dickerson said.

Riley Mahlman continues to talk to Buckeyes

The Buckeyes had Minnesota offensive lineman Riley Mahlman in Columbus in June for a one-day camp visit. The 6-foot-7, 270-pound tackle who is ranked as Minnesota’s No. 1 junior called that visit “amazing.

He hoped to return to Ohio State for a game visit this season, Mahlman has continued to talk to the staff when he’s been able and things appear to be moving right along between the two sides.

“I call the coaches about every week,” Mahlman told Lettermen Row. “Just to stay in touch. We have good relationships, mostly I talk to [offensive line coach Greg] Studrawa. There’s not too much football talk, it’s mostly just getting to know each other.

“It would be awesome if I could get back to campus for a game. We are trying to work out the details.”

Mahlman has listed offers from seven different programs, all of them in the Big Ten.

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