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Commitment Impact: 4-Star Ohio Running Back Jaelen Gill
By Ben van Ooyen

One of Ohio’s best committed to the Scarlet and Gray on Wednesday, as Jaelen Gill gave his verbal pledge at Westerville South High School. Gill becomes the first Ohio commitment for the class of 2018, and the fourth commitment overall.

What kind of impact will Gill’s commitment have on Ohio State now and moving forward?

The Player

Gill is a 6-foot-1 183 pound running back out of Westerville, Ohio. He is rated as the No. 3 all-purpose back in the class of 2018, and is the No. 2 athlete from the state of Ohio. No matter if Mike Weber decides to go pro after next year or not, the Buckeye depth chart at running back is slim. Gill is open to either H-back or running back in OSU's offense, though freshmen usually start out at running back. Although Gill missed his entire junior season due to a leg injury, Westerville South assistant coach Eric Calland says that it has been a blessing in disguise for him.

"The school that gets him is going to see a kid that has gone through three high school head coaches and hasn't blinked," Calland told The-Ozone. "In this day with transferring happening more often at the high school level, it will be refreshing for college coaches to see a kid commit to his school and community when he had every excuse in the world not to. As a Westerville South grad myself, it makes me extremely proud."

The Comparison

When you watch Gill play, you see a bit of Curtis Samuel there. He has great acceleration and the ability to make guys miss with his great footwork. While he is used primarily as a running back at South, he has shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield as well. While we saw Samuel earn playing time as a true freshman, he really came into his own in the 2016 season. Samuel was a do-it-all back, with 171 total touches on the season for over 1600 yards. Every time he touched the ball, there was a chance that he would break free for a highlight reel touchdown.

"Jaelen is extremely explosive and the way he can hit another gear after his cuts is unreal," Calland said. "The injury has been rough in terms of increasing mass this offseason, which is one thing I would imagine college teams would like to see. That won't deter anyone though -- colleges know how to take care of that quickly."

The Fit

Gill is a gifted, athletic back who should shine in the Ohio State offense we have come to know over the past few seasons. He has a great burst and finds the hole really well, allowing him to be a home run threat for the offense. Coach Calland says he would be a great fit no matter where Ohio State uses him.

"I've never seen anyone be able to break away like he does and he's able to do it in traffic," he said. "I don't want to pigeonhole him into any prototype as I think he will be able to adapt to most positions where colleges want to put him whether it’s on offense or defense."

The Depth Chart

Depending on the decision of Mike Weber, the Buckeyes' backfield could seriously be depleted, returning only three backs in 2018. While the Buckeyes have already gotten a verbal from 4-star Florida back Brian Snead along with Gill, I believe that the Buckeyes will still be targeting one or two more backs for this class to build back up that depth. Since Gill is more of a do-it-all type back, he could see himself finding playing time somewhere next season depending on who shines in 2017.

The Future

According to his coach, Gill is back to 100% and has been cleared for all activity. He just needs to be patient to gain the strength and mobility back that he lost with the missed season. I believe Gill will have a huge 2017 season at Westerville South and will probably earn himself a fifth star in the process. His future at Ohio State is going to be ripe with opportunity, as he enters a depleted backfield looking for its next home run threat. If he is able to get himself even close to the Curtis Samuel we saw in 2016, the Buckeye faithful will be in for a treat watching him for a few years.

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