List of tailback targets narrows, plenty of time left for new names

Aritcle written by:Jeremy BirminghamJeremy Birmingham

Birm

Tony-Alford-by-Birm-Lettermen-Row
Tony Alford has a full running back room at Ohio State. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

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’s question is about the Class of 2022 and the Buckeyes running back pursuits therein.

Ohio State Recruiting Question of the Day

At least at first blush, running back recruiting in the Class of 2022 seems to be a pretty cut-and-dried situation for Ohio State.

Looking ahead to the expected roster for that year, the position seems pretty loaded. Marcus Crowley, Steele Chambers, Miyan Williams, TreVeyon Henderson and Evan Pryor could all be there fighting for carries, and the Buckeyes are likely to add one in the 2022 class. So, it’d be easy enough to just say that’s where the story ends.

But modern college football, with the transfer portal and all of its trappings, is rarely that easy to sort out. There’s almost sure to be attrition from within Tony Alford’s position group between now and then, which begs the question: How many departures must there be to force Ohio State into signing two tailbacks for a second straight year?

Maybe that’s getting ahead of things a bit, so let’s back up and instead just focus on the guys that remain at the top of the prospective list for Alford and the Buckeyes right now. After signing the country’s top-ranked tailback in 2021 (TreVeyon Henderson) and a second top-five prospect (Evan Pryor) at the position, there’s an ability to take a patient approach and find players who fit the program’s needs — not just on the field, but off of it. The recruiting dead period is ongoing until at least April, so it’s hard to imagine Ohio State or any of its top targets will make a decision before then.

That kind of time to continue growing relationships and evaluating tape is a good thing.

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Ohio State signed four-star Evan Pryor in the last cycle. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Still, patient or not, there’s a couple of young guys who have been standing out for the Buckeyes over these last few months and continue to do so. That list includes Memphis (Tenn.) 4-star Dallan Hayden, Georgia’s Damari Alston and Pennsylvania’s Nick Singleton. On the outside of that top group there are names like Terrance Gibbs from Winter Park (Fla.), Kaytron Allen down at the IMG Academy in Brandenton (Fla.) and Cincinnati’s Gi’Bran Payne, though he has not yet been offered by Ohio State.

If forced to handicap the race right now, it’d probably be Hayden at the top of the list as the most likely to end up in Columbus with Alston close behind. There is plenty of time for that to change and a number of big-time programs working on those players, most notably Notre Dame making a real push for Hayden. It will also be interesting to watch how the dumpster fire in Knoxville gets addressed now that they’ve hired a new coach in Josh Heupel and how much impact that has on his recruitment, since he’s a Volunteers legacy and all.

Expect Hayden and Alston to make visits to Columbus as soon as possible this spring. From there, Ohio State will have a better idea of whether or not its list of targets at tailback needs to expand a bit more — or if they’ve already found the guy for 2022.

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