Have a question about Ohio State recruiting? This is the place for you, five days a week. Submit your questions on Twitter or on the Lettermen Row forums. Check in daily to see what’s on the mind of Buckeyes fans all over the country. Today, we examine the running back position and who sits at the top of the Buckeyes list in 2020.
Ohio State Recruiting Question of the Day
Assuming Milton stays out West who is the 2020 RB most likely to commit? (Hubbard not counting as he’ll de commit)
— Scott Bales (@ScottBales1) February 18, 2019
Urban Meyer declared the running back position at Ohio State as one of the country’s “Cadillac positions.” A position rich in tradition and success and one that will never really go out of style. While a number of other schools fight for the title of “RBU,” the tailback room in Columbus has remained one of the most consistent and talent-filled positions for decades at Ohio State.
But the offense appears to be changing at Ohio State, again. Ironically, when Meyer took over the reins of the Buckeyes program in 2011, the only potential knock against him on the recruiting trail was that he’d never had a traditional running back in his storied career. Carlos Hyde, Ezekiel Elliott, Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins quickly put that talking point to pasture, but now, after a 5,000-yard passing seas0n with Ryan Day’s offense and the step forward taken by a deep and talented receivers room, questions about how Ohio State will refuel the Cadillac position become important to answer.
Dobbins will almost certainly depart for the NFL following the 2019 season, and that leaves only Master Teague and incoming freshmen Marcus Crowley and Steele Chambers at tailback. That’s a talented trio, sure, but at Ohio State, it doesn’t meet the desired, expected embarrassment of riches experienced throughout history.
Ohio State needs to bring in two running backs in the Class of 2020. And as it sits today with Darvon Hubbard in the commitment column, I do not expect him to be in this class come signing day — so the Buckeyes still need two. And as I see it, there are two prospects at the top of the list.
Neither of them are from anywhere particularly close to Ohio.
The first is Kendall Milton. He’s the country’s second-ranked tailback and a 5-star prospect, and he’s been near the top of the wishlist for a while now. Right next to Milton — not behind him — is Tucson’s Bijan Robinson. The Buckeyes love the 6-foot-tall, 200-pound wrecking ball from Salpointe Catholic and are hoping to get him on campus in the next month or so. I believe Robinson may be the best and most likely fit.
Beyond that pair, it’s kind of the wild, wild, west for the Buckeyes. There are a lot of names that bear watching, but none that appear so exponentially different that they can be put in any sort of distinguishable list. Local kids like Mike Drennen and JuTahn McClain are intriguing because they could fill the H-back role more than the traditional running back role, but neither of them are the bell cow-type back that is needed in this cycle’s haul.
With the help of receiver Gee Scott, the Buckeyes could be a player in the recruitment of Sam Adams if they decide to push on it. But he’s a Texas A&M legacy and the Aggies will be involved until the end. Seth McGowan recently included Ohio State in his top schools list and Tony Alford has been recruiting Lakeland (Fla.) 5-star Demarckus Bowman for a while as well. Then there’s EJ Smith, who has visited multiple times and remains interested in Ohio State.
If I’m being tasked with predicting an outcome here, it’s this: Bijan Robinson and Mike Drennen will be* the two running backs in Ohio State’s 2020 class.
*I reserve the right to change my mind at any time.
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