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After rough weekend, where do Buckeyes turn now at running back?

Tony Alford-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Tony Alford and Ohio State may be going back to the drawing board at running back for the 2020 class. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Recruiting Question of the Day

After rough weekend, where do Buckeyes turn now at running back?

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 try and get to the heart of what happened with a pair of the top running back targets for Ohio State.

Ohio State Recruiting Question of the Day

Yes, just last week I wrote a column here about what was setting up to be a very important, very productive 10-day stretch for Ohio State and its recruiting class of 2020.

We touched on three upcoming recruiting decisions in which all three prospects were, at the time, expected to commit to the Buckeyes. Hybrid athlete Kourt Williams was first and went off without a hitch, and all appeared well with the other two, running backs Bijan Robinson and Jaylan Knighton.

The June/July recruiting dead period came to an end, and there was no concern from Ohio State sources about either player changing his mind ahead of their scheduled announcements this week (Knighton is Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET, Robinson is set for some time on Aug. 2).

Then, in the blink of an eye, things changed.

In the course of about 24 hours, Ohio State went from feeling comfortable that its running back recruiting in 2020 was locked up to a complete system shock as the board was upended.

“It’s shaken some guys to their core,” one source said about the 180-degree turn of events.

Recruiting is a business, and at times, it’s an ugly one. There are coaches who lie to kids about this, that or the other thing in order to secure a commitment. There are kids who commit to schools and then lie about visiting other places as often as coaches lie. There are parents who shake hands and trade hugs on a commitment only to work against their child’s decision and undermine the confidence their child had in his choice.

Like every other business, recruiting is about people. And just like everything else that involves people, there are selfish motives to consider.

“How do I keep my job? How do I get to the NFL? How do I keep my kid close to home? What school is willing to promise this, that or the other thing?”

It’s also important to keep in mind that each of these running backs visited Ohio State only once. Yes, momentum had been in the Buckeyes favor, but it’s not as though these are recruiting relationships built on years of a solid foundation. It was reasonable to expect some turmoil.

That doesn’t make it easier to swallow for Ohio State.

Until December, there’s no need for the Buckeyes to panic about any recruit. But after all the signs pointing toward Bijan Robinson and Jaylan Knighton committing to Ohio State for the past month, things have changed and there is no longer any expectation of that happening. Why? It might take a far-and-wide search to find the real answer to that, but in both cases there appeared to be at least one important, decision-making family member who was pushing for the prospect to stay closer to home.

Ryan Day-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ryan Day and Tony Alford may need to go back to the running back drawing board in the 2020 class. (Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports)

Closer to home is, of course, open to interpretation when dealing with flights and cars and miles and all the things in between.

Knighton may pick Florida State on Tuesday, but his recruitment is far from over at that point if he does. The Seminoles program is in flux, so the Buckeyes, along with the Miami Hurricanes and others, will remain in the conversation as the season unfolds. Ohio State will just have to wait and see what happens from here, moving on to the next man up* and keeping an eye on what happens in Florida over the next two or three months.

*A full breakdown of updated targets will follow this week* 

With Robinson, again, this has taken the Buckeyes completely by surprise. To this point, there’s been no concrete explanation offered up by the family. Ohio State was confident that his choice was made and is working to bring it back around. There’s still time for Ohio State to change minds before Robinson’s announcement, but there’s not much reason for optimism as of now. We’ll see what happens in the next four days.

There is plenty of time for Ohio State, running backs coach Tony Alford and Ryan Day to find other running backs. There are a number of names still out there if these two players pick other programs.

Is it upsetting to the Buckeyes program? Yes. Is it time to panic? Absolutely not.

The best way to stay on top of all that recruiting #stuff? Subscribe to Lettermen Row’s Recruiting with Birm newsletter. 

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Harry Guzaliak JrBuck68TracyreBryan BettsAaron Recent comment authors
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Brunstar
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Brunstar

Great update Birm, wish it was better news. If I’m an Ohio State coach I get on a plane to AZ and talk to Robinson in person. Remind him why Ohio State is his best choice and hope that his family realizes Ohio State offers him the best future regardless of the travel distance.

JohnnyKozmo
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JohnnyKozmo

Except he’s not in CA…AZ would be the destination.

Brunstar
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Brunstar

Good catch, changed it, thank you.

Buck68
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Buck68

wishing rhymes with pfishing…

firing without hiring is like out of the frying pan into the fire….

Birm, thanks for your island of calm, considering perspective in today’s quakes, … when some of us are not quite as witty whilst we are losing our wits….

…but, so far, it appears Buckeye fans are unusually restrained commenting… and THAT is very helpful for our coaches and players….

Aaron
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Aaron

This is a bijantic disappointment.

Bill
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Bill

Time to Panic…. Fire Alford, Fire Stud, Fire Fickell, Fire Schiano, Fire Davis, Day to the NFL, Meyer to USC, Tressel to Michigan, chaos reigns.

Kid Buckeye
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Kid Buckeye

Alford just may have to go. Only Dobbins having a great year will save his ass.

Bryan Betts
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Bryan Betts

Alford and Studrawa are the last Meyer vestiges that need to go.

Jim Knapinski
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Jim Knapinski

Where do the Buckeyes stand with EJ Smith at this point ?

Harry Guzaliak Jr
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Harry Guzaliak Jr

How many 3 star running backs are available for 2020 ? Some athletes develop later.

Bill Woodman
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Bill Woodman

Birm, I think you know more about this situation than you’re able to share, although you alluded to some possible reasons in your write up. I know you have to protect your sources. My question is, it doesn’t seem that Robinson spurned OSU because he clearly favored another school or program . . . unless it’s Tim Beck and Texas. Having worked at OSU, maybe Beck told Robinson he had some “inside info” on OSU that turned Robinson and his family off. Just speculating. As far as distance is concerned, it’s a plane ride from Tuscon to Austin, LA or… Read more »

Tracyre
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Tracyre

AZ is an easy 6 hour car ride to LA.

Bryan Betts
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Bryan Betts

We have a stable of very capable Backs……Master Teague is gonna be a beast. I say be happy with what we already have for 2020 recruiting class, look at rb’s for 2021.

Kid Buckeye
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Kid Buckeye

I had a hard time buying that both these RBs were committing to TOSU. A 5 star and a 4 stars both to the same school. But I didn’t think both would bail on the Buckeyes. Maybe after one commits the other will consider the Buckeyes again.

Adam
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Adam

Why not? Georgia does it every year and are gonna do it again with Kendall Milton & Tank Bigsby

Bryan Betts
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Bryan Betts

Never liked Alford…Gave Weber more than he deserved, while neglecting Dobbins. This debacle falls squarely on his shoulders. One look at his face spells ‘D-U-M-B”

Tracyre
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Tracyre

you have GOT to be kidding me.

Birm

Birm is Lettermen Row's Director of Recruiting and the site's primary Ohio State sports photographer. A Toledo, Ohio native, Jeremy has been in similar roles for elevenwarriors.com and Landof10.com and has been covering the Buckeyes for seven years.

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