COLUMBUS — The process didn’t go exactly as he planned, but the end result is the same: 4-star North Carolina running back Evan Pryor is now committed to Ohio State.
Pryor picked the Buckeyes on Monday night, choosing to end his recruitment rather than waiting out the current NCAA recruiting dead period and giving himself time to take more visits. The reason was simple: He wanted to play for the Buckeyes. Now he’s locked into his future spot in Columbus.
Lettermen Row breaks down what Pryor’s decision and what his commitment means to Ohio State, the Big Ten and more.
What Evan Pryor gives Ohio State on the field
Aside from the obvious running back depth concerns, Evan Pryor’s commitment helps the Buckeyes from a talent perspective. He’s a top-five-ranked running back, and he has the size and frame that Ohio State is used to in the backfield over the last few years, checking in at a solid 5-foot-11 and 190-pounds.
Though he’ll need to get stronger to run through the defensive lines he’ll face in the Big Ten, Pryor has the speed and shiftiness to make people miss and to beat defenses to the edge already, which is why he’s been a priority target for the last year.
Pryor is a sprinter who has posted times under 11 seconds in the 100-meter-dash, is a home run threat every time he touches the ball and is also comfortable coming out of the backfield catching the football. Beyond his natural ability, his head coach says Pryor sets the tone for his teammates at William Amos Hough High School with his work ethic.
“His work ethic has reached an elite level, specifically over the last year — I think he goes as hard at practice right now as anybody we have in the program,” Matt Jenkins told Lettermen Row during a visit to the school last week. “And he plays with a bunch of guys who are going to go play Division I football.
“His skill set is remarkable. One of his goals when he got here was to become a three-down back and have the ability not to ever have to come off the football. He gets closer to that every day, and he’s a willing blocker, good in protection schemes, understands them and picks up blitzes. He’s got remarkable hands as a running back. Great vision. Does a great job between the tackles, and he runs through tackles now — which was kind of the next evolution for him. When you’re as fast as he is from Day One, that next step is running through tackles and he’s doing that. And more importantly, Evan understands that if he wants to play on Sundays, which is his ultimate goal, it’s all about his work ethic up to that point.”
Now it’s up to Pryor and Tony Alford to get him to that next level.
What pickup means for Ohio State 2021 recruiting class
The Buckeyes are on a pretty good recruiting roll. There’s no doubt that Pryor’s decision has the potential to not just boost the profile of the Ohio State class, but it can also serve as an important domino for running back recruiting nationwide.
As one of the country’s top-five tailbacks, Pryor should calm any panic the Buckeyes have felt over the last three recruiting cycles about whether or not Tony Alford could close on a big-time prospect. The majority of those top-tier running backs, including major Ohio State targets TreVeyon Henderson and Donovan Edwards — each of whom the Buckeyes are the presumptive leader to land — have indicated that they’d prefer to suit up alongside another top back rather than being counted on to eventually be the only ballcarrier on their eventual college roster. It’s conceivable that Pryor’s decision could stir one into action on their own college choice if they’re anywhere near ready to make a pick or if the Buckeyes lead in their recruitment by any real margin.
The Buckeyes offensive class is now coming together in a big way as Pryor joins 5-star quarterback Kyle McCord, 4-star receivers Jayden Ballard and Marvin Harrison, 4-star offensive lineman Ben Christman and Donovan Jackson along with highly-regarded 3-star tight end Sam Hart.
How Evan Pryor impacts recruiting rankings
Once again, this latest commitment increases the Ohio State lead over Clemson as the country’s top-ranked 2021 recruiting class. The Buckeyes are growing an almost insurmountable lead in the Big Ten as Ohio State makes a push for what could be an all-time great recruiting haul.
The Buckeyes now have commitments from six different states. Pryor’s pledge means that for the third straight cycle Ohio State will land at least one player from North Carolina, a region that has become a hotbed for college football prospects in the last decade. Ohio State has 13 commitments now in 2021, one behind Florida who has the country’s highest number of junior pledges.
Need more Ohio State recruiting #Stuff? Join the conversation below in the comments and sign up for Scarlet Sunrise, Lettermen Row’s morning newsletter that will get your day started with all the important Ohio State news you need to know. Prefer video? Follow Buckeyes football on YouTube with Lettermen Row. You can also get your recruiting fix by subscribing to Talking Stuff: The Ohio State Recruiting Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and Stitcher