COLUMBUS — Occasionally in the world of college football recruiting, the things players want become secondary to the things they need. That may be one of the reasons why 5-star running back TreVeyon Henderson, the country’s top-ranked running back in the Class of 2021 according to 247Sports.com, is now committed to play his college football at Ohio State.
Henderson wanted to make an in-person visit to Ohio State before making any kind of college decision. But forced with the reality that may not happen for a while, he ended his recruitment without ever stepping foot on campus with the Buckeyes.
The primary reason? His relationships with the Ohio State staff, most notably Tony Alford, but with serious help from linebackers coach Al Washington, who has been recruiting Henderson for almost three years now, dating back to his time as an assistant coach at Michigan.
Lettermen Row breaks down Henderson’s unexpected decision and what it means for Ohio State, the Big Ten and the national landscape.
What TreVeyon Henderson gives Ohio State on the field
Though his 247Sports.com profile lists him at 5-foot-11 and 195-pounds, Henderson is closer to 6-foot-1 in reality and checks in near 210 pounds. He’s the prototypical size for a Big Ten running back. When that is combined with explosive speed that clocks in regularly under 6.5 seconds in the 60-meter-dash, it’s easy to put his lofty national ranking into perspective. His Ohio State comparison? That’d probably be Ezekiel Elliott, who had a pretty good career in Columbus.
Pop on the game tape, and what Henderson does on the field for the Hopewell (Va.) Blue Devils is something else. On the way to a 15-0 season last season, the Gatorade Player of the Year in Virginia ran for more than 2,400 yards and scored 45 touchdowns on the ground on only 198 carries, a crazy average of more than 12 yards per rush, while also accounting for another five touchdowns as a receiver.
“You know, the thing about him is that he works even harder with the accolades that he gets — he’s a special talent,” Hopewell coach Ricky Irby told Lettermen Row during a visit to the school three weeks ago. “God truly blessed him, and he’s a great kid — great, coachable kid. It was fun to watch last year, it really was.”
Those gaudy numbers Henderson racked up certainly could have been even gaudier. He rarely played a full game for the Blue Devils.
“Trey is a great team guy, and he obviously is excited when we have team success and other kids are having success as well,” Irby said. “Our offensive staff does a really good job of not only getting Trey the ball, but our other talented kids the ball as well when other teams focus on Trey. We see a lot of Cover Zero with loaded boxes.”
He also picked off three passes playing in the secondary for good measure, which is why some of the country’s top programs, including Clemson, were recruiting Henderson as a defensive prospect.
What pickup means for Ohio State 2021 recruiting class
It’s almost inconceivable to think a player of Henderson’s stature would commit to a school he’s not visited. But his decision speaks volumes to top prospects all over the country about the strength of the Ohio State brand, and that’s not something that should be overlooked. The Buckeyes are one of the country’s most elite programs. There’s tangible impact across the nation when a truly elite prospect makes a college decision, and the nature of this particular decision could have an even greater reach.
When it comes to the Buckeyes offensive class, Henderson’s commitment means that with more than seven months left until the early signing period, Ryan Day and his coaching staff can turn their focus entirely to wrapping up another top receiver prospect or two, a second tight end and perhaps two more offensive linemen. Day suggested earlier this week that working ahead has had a major impact on the ability to secure commitments in this cycle during an obviously uncertain time around the NCAA because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We did a great job in a tough spot this winter,” Day said. “We got ahead of this thing, even in the last year. Mark Pantoni and our staff have done a great job staying in touch with this class. From this time last year we were working so far ahead that those relationships are really, really strong.”
Now the Buckeyes can work ahead again to round out the 2021 class, and there’s no doubt it’ll be easier to do that with the ability to point to a player like TreVeyon Henderson as another important building block. Recruits want to be a part of something special, and Ohio State’s class is on the verge of becoming historic. That doesn’t go unnoticed nationally.
In the micro sense, Henderson is the second running back to commit to Ohio State in the last two weeks, joining 4-star North Carolina standout Evan Pryor. The addition of Henderson should put to rest entirely the belief that Tony Alford, who took a lot of heat for recruiting losses in the 2020 class, is capable of being a leader on the recruiting trail for the Buckeyes. He’s now the country’s top-ranked recruiter in the Class of 2021 and one of five Ohio State assistants currently ranked inside of the top 10.
How TreVeyon Henderson impacts recruiting rankings
Commitment No. 15 for Ohio State in 2021, TreVeyon Henderson is now the third 5-star prospect in the verbal column for the Buckeyes this cycle. The 15 commits are the most of any team in the country, and the Ohio State lead over Clemson as the country’s top-ranked recruiting class has grown to almost 60 points as Ryan Day, Mark Pantoni and the rest of the Buckeyes recruiting machine works toward what could be the best class in modern recruiting history.
The Buckeyes 15-person class sits at 280.61 points according to the 247Sports.com team score, a total that would have been good for the No. 7 spot in the final rankings in 2020. Ohio State should finish the 2021 class with somewhere in the area of 24 or 25 commitments.
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