It is difficult to turn any page in the Ohio State Buckeyes’ history books and not come across a great running back. The names start a hundred years ago with Chic Harley and continue all the way to today with Mike Weber.
Fans know the history, and players eventually learn it. History for recruits, however, generally only stretches back to what they’ve seen with their own eyes on television or in person. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, they have quite a history in that short window of time as well.
When Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford goes on the road recruiting, he doesn’t have to sell OSU hard. He simply has to open the last page or two of that OSU history book.
“This is The Ohio State, and you’ve got great history here and great tradition here,” Alford said. “In the most recent year’s players we’re now recruiting, they know who Carlos Hyde is, everybody in the free world knows who Zeke Elliott is, and all of sudden they’re watching and Zeke’s gone. Well, who’s going to be the next guy, and all of sudden here’s Mike Weber, and he’s doing good things, so the interest level is there.”
The Buckeyes currently have two running backs committed in the 2018 class. Brian Snead is from Armwood High School in Seffner, Florida, and is rated the No. 4 running back in the nation per the 247Sports Composite. He actually committed last July, before Weber became only the third OSU freshman running back to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. He had no ties to Ohio State, but that didn’t keep him from being drawn to the Buckeyes.
The other running back is Jaelen Gill, from Westerville, Ohio. He is rated the No. 2 all-purpose back in the nation. Gill figures to play H-back at Ohio State, which is a position that is developing its own history at OSU, and quite rapidly. He grew up in the Ohio State’s backyard, so the draw was different for him.
The Buckeyes likely aren’t done at running back this year, still chasing the likes of North Carolina 5-star prospect Zamir White and Dayton’s Tavion Thomas. Other names will emerge as well, because Ohio State never stops looking, and players never stop listening.
“When you knock on someone’s door they are going to open the door, they are going to listen, they are going to take the call,” Alford said. “Does that mean they’re coming? No, but they are going to at least listen to you and that’s all you can ask for is to get in the door, for them to take the call, and from there you’ve got to provide and show what we have, present what we’re doing. For running backs right now it’s been pretty good and hopefully that will continue.”
As Urban Meyer says, there is theory and there is testimony. At Ohio State, the recent running back testimony is becoming more effective by the day. In fact, it is beginning to create its own history.
Without a strong presence and present, Ohio State wouldn’t have the success recruiting running backs that they’ve had. The lure of being part of OSU’s football history, however, is one heck of an effective conversation starter.