Football Recruiting

Ohio State Football Commitment Impact: Running Back Sampson James

Sampson James Ohio State Recruiting Buckeyes


When Ohio State received a verbal commitment from 2019 4-star running back Sampson James on Monday, it gave the Buckeyes a very good start on what should be an outstanding haul of skill players.

Player: Sampson James (Avon High School, Avon IN)

Position: Running Back

Ranking: 247Sports Composite 4-Star; No. 8 Running Back; No. 142 Player Overall

Sampson James (6-1 211) was a First-Team All-State selection last season as a junior. He rushed for 1,782 yards and 20 touchdowns. He will be enrolling at Ohio State in January.

James is plenty accustomed to running the ball out of the shotgun, so the transition to OSU’s running game should be a quick learn. He displays very good speed and is able to eliminate defensive angles.

At 6-foot-1 and 211 pounds, he already has good size and will certainly get bigger and stronger in the coming years. There is no dancing in James’ running style. He gets north and south immediately and makes the necessary adjustments when the time arises. He shrugs off ankle tackles, and tackling him high doesn’t work too well either.

James is also a talented pass catcher in the screen game and even further down field.

The Comparison

Physically, there aren’t many similar running backs in Ohio State football’s recent past. One who does come to mind, however, is also an Indiana native. Rod Smith was taller — listed at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds as a recruit — but the styles were also similar. Neither were known for wasting time with the football.

And while Sampson James isn’t as fast as Ezekiel Elliott, there are some runs in his highlight package that are similar. The ability to get upfield and split defenders is a familiar trait between the two backs.

James is a one-cut runner, not unlike incoming freshman Master Teague. Both players have adequate shake, but like to get north and leave defenders behind.

The Fit

Sampson James has experience running the ball in a spread offense and knows to get upfield in a hurry. His ability to catch the ball will also allow him to fit in well with the Buckeyes. Kevin Wilson’s usage of the wheel route particularly comes to mind here. As an outlet, he looks the ball in before turning upfield. Or at least he does in his highlights. James is a tough interior runner who keeps going after first contact and falls forward upon last contact. In other words, he fits into the Ohio State football program just fine.

The Future

The Buckeyes are planning on signing two running backs in the 2019 class, which comes one year after signing a pair in 2018. With Mike Weber likely off to the NFL after this season and J.K. Dobbins after next season, the need for depth remains. When James arrives, the Ohio State football depth chart will likely feature Dobbins and Antonio Williams in their final seasons as Buckeyes, as well as Master Teague and Brian Snead in their second. It looks like a loaded backfield in 2019, but that will change dramatically in 2020. Of course, the Buckeyes might be looking to add another pair of running backs at that point as well. There may not be many snaps available as a true freshman, but opportunities won’t take too much longer after that to appear.

Sampson James Highlights

[Sampson James photo courtesy]

4 Responses

  1. At first glance looks like a running back version of Michael Thomas.

  2. Do you think he has potential to bulk up to 225+ pounds? (or Master Teague) I really miss having a Zeke/Hyde like power back in this spread offense and I’m sure Urban does too.

    1. Definitely he has the frame. Zeke came to OSU listed at 218 and hit 225 as a sophomore. I could see James doing that pretty easily. And Teague is already listed at 215.

  3. He doesn’t have quite the same speed, though he’s a more physical runner between the tackles, he is very similar to Brandon Saine from several years ago. I would have loved to have seen Brandon in the current rushing scheme. Brandon’s rushing style had more dance but I think he would have been explosive under Coach Alford technique in the RPO scheme.

    Young Mr. James has a bright future if he comes in with the same mindset as the guys currently in the program. Brian Snead coming in the summer has to make runningback fans smile when they get a chance to look at the January roster.

    1. Weber
    2. Dobbins
    3. Williams
    4. Teague
    5. Snead
    6. James

    All 6 of those guys could potentially play in 2019, with probably 2 more backs added between now and then!

    THAT’S what you call a monster runningback depth chart!

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