OSU back in hunt for running back

Tim May
tmay@dispatch.com

That was a bad sign when running back prospect Sampson James showed up at the Ohio State-Indiana game three weeks ago and was seen hugging Indiana players afterward.

Actually, it was a harbinger.

Join the conversation at Facebook.com/BuckeyeXtra and connect with us on Twitter @BuckeyeXtra

James, from Avon, Indiana, had long been committed to Ohio State’s 2019 recruiting class. Although he was at the game on an unofficial visit, using an OSU-furnished ticket, a day later he announced he had withdrawn his pledge to the Buckeyes and committed to the Hoosiers.

To say the least, Ohio State coaches were not amused. Of course, they aren’t allowed to say anything publicly, but they have shown by their actions that they moved on.

“What’s been impressive about Urban Meyer and his staff since they came to Ohio State seven years ago is if they have a miss or something doesn’t go their way in recruiting a player, they have an alternative to turn to that in most cases is comparable and sometimes even better,” Bucknuts recruiting analyst Bill Kurelic said.

The Buckeyes have turned their attention to three more running backs on relatively equal footing with James:

• Noah Cain, of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, but originally from Texas. He is No. 6 nationally among running backs in the 247Sports composite of the major ratings. Ohio State, LSU, Auburn, Oklahoma, Texas and Penn State are among his suitors.

• Deondrick Glass, of Katy, Texas. He is No. 13 among running backs in the 247Sports composite and has the Buckeyes, Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma State heavily on his trail.

• Marcus Crowley, of Trinity Christian in Jacksonville, Florida. He is No. 35 among running backs in the 247Sports composite. He is committed to Miami, but Ohio State made an offer after James’ departure, and Crowley is said to be interested.

“The best way to put it is they seem to be making pretty good progress,” Rivals analyst Marc Givler said. “I think they have done well since the James decommitment to give themselves some good options.”

Glass is expected to make an unofficial visit on Nov. 3 for the Nebraska game on the same weekend Crowley is scheduled to make an official visit. Cain will make an official visit the weekend of the Michigan game Nov. 24.

“Now we just have to wait and see how the visits go,” Givler said. “But they’re getting them on campus, which is an important development.”

He said he has zeroed in on Cain and Glass as the more feasible targets at this point, “because I think Marcus Crowley is going to be tough to flip.”

Cain has played a couple of seasons at IMG, “which means he is battle-tested, and he grew up in Texas, so you know how important football is there,” Kurelic said.

And Glass, “he has long been interested in Ohio State, and he has just been waiting for an opportunity to get their interest,” Kurelic said. “With James changing his mind, the opportunity is there.”

When pushed for how he thinks it will work out, though, Kurelic had an interesting take.

“If I had to predict right now which one would of the three would end up in this class, I would probably go with Marcus Crowley as a flip from Miami,” he said. “But I also think that if the Buckeyes really want to wait it out and press hard, it could be Cain.”

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports

Listen to the BuckeyeXtra Football podcast: