Taking Shape: IMG Academy Duo, Indiana Standout Top Options on Ohio State's 2019 Running Back Board

By Andrew Ellis on February 27, 2018 at 2:15 pm
IMG Academy's Noah Cain is the nation's No. 3 running back prospect.

Noah Cain


Tony Alford and the Buckeyes have once again put together quite the stable at running back. Mike Weber is returning for his redshirt junior season, and all J.K. Dobbins did in 2017 was break Ohio State's freshman running record. Antonio Williams has been able to add some depth and we're all waiting to see exactly how Demario McCall will be utilized following a medical redshirt season.

As if that weren't already enough, the Buckeyes are also welcoming in two of the country's top backs in 2018 signees Brian Snead and Master Teague. Snead – a Seffner, Florida native and the country's No. 3 tailback – will arrive in June. Teague is already in Columbus and has been taking classes since January. Sprinkle in a little bit of Jaelen Gill at H-Back and there's a lot to be excited about in the running game. 

For the Class of 2019, the position isn't going to be quite the need it was this past year, but the Buckeyes have already extended offers to 11 of the country's top backs. In the early stages of the cycle, a few are already standing out above the rest. 

Trey Sanders • Port St. Joe, FL • 5-foot-11.5, 216 pounds • ★★★★★ • Nat. Rank: 6

The nation's No. 1 tailback committed to the Crimson Tide back in April of 2016. That marriage lasted more than a full calendar year before coming to an end last month. The Buckeyes extended an offer shortly after the decommitment, but at this point there's no reason for too much excitement. 

Ohio State has done well at IMG Academy, but right now the crystal ball would lead one to believe that this recruitment may end up like that of Cam Akers in 2017. Nation's top back makes early commitment to Alabama, backs off pledge, and ends up at Florida State? That may be the case for Sanders, and the fact that Tallahassee is less than two hours from his hometown certainly could help Willie Taggart's cause. 

Noah Cain • Denton, Texas • 5-foot-10.5, 209 pounds • ★★★★ • Nat. Rank: 31

IMG Academy is also home to the country's No. 3 tailback in four-star Noah Cain. The Texan is a player the Buckeyes absolutely have a shot at, and he's already built up quite the relationship with Tony Alford. Ohio State offered just about a year ago, and Cain has made the trip to Columbus since that time. 

The crystal ball is all over the place with submissions for Texas, Ohio State, Miami, LSU, and Oklahoma. If I were a betting man then my money would be on the Buckeyes or Longhorns, but there's a long way to go with this one. 

Cain may very well be Ohio State's top target at the position, but it won't be easy to top Tom Herman for the Texas native. 

Devyn Ford • Stafford, VA • 5-foot-11, 185 pounds • ★★★★ • Nat. Rank: 70

A four-star in the composite rankings, Rivals.com actually has Stafford, Virginia's Devyn Ford as a five-star and the nation's No. 1 tailback. Ford has already been to Columbus multiple times and Ohio State has had plenty of success recruiting the state of Virginia. 

Ford recently named a top-six that included Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Penn State, North Carolina, Clemson, and Oklahoma. He made trips to Happy Valley and Blacksburg in February. The Hokies are the heavy crystal ball favorite and a decision is expected to come in June. The Buckeyes will look to get Ford back on campus before that time. 

Sampson James • Avon, IN • 6-foot-1, 211 pounds • ★★★★ • Nat. Rank: 141

The country's No. 8 player at the position hails from Avon, Indiana, and his crystal ball currently reads 100 percent in favor of Ohio State. Sampson James holds offers from all of the Midwest powers along with schools like Florida State, Georgia, and Tennessee. As a junior he rushed for nearly 1,800 yards and found the end zone 20 times. 

A few weeks ago we put out the first forecast for the 2019 recruiting class, and I neglected to include James on my list. That was probably a mistake on my part, and the No. 2 player in the Hoosier State is slated to head back to Columbus in the next month or so. There doesn't appear to be a timeline for a decision, but the Buckeyes are in a great spot. 

Deondrick Glass • Katy, Texas • 5-foot-11, 190 pounds • ★★★★ • Nat. Rank: 194

The Buckeyes extended an offer to Deondrick Glass back in April of 2017, and the Katy, Texas  back holds offers from just about every power program in America. Glass has rushed for 56 touchdowns over the last two seasons.

We haven't spent too much time talking about this particular Texan, but we've been told the country's No. 14 back is pretty high up there on the staff's board. His recruitment seems to be wide open at this point, but one has to wonder how the success of some other Texans could help the Buckeyes with this one.

Ezekiel Elliott's success helped Ohio State catch the eyes of fellow Missouri natives Kamryn Babb and Cameron Brown. Perhaps J.K. Dobbins, Jeffrey Okudah, and Baron Browning could play a part in this one? 

Given the depth at the position, there's certainly a chance that Alford and Meyer elect to just bring in one tailback for the 2019 class. However, given that several of these guys are too good to turn down, it's probably safe to expect a pair. The numbers game may very well depend on the development of the aforementioned Brian Snead and Master Teague. 

Other players like Fort Lauderdale's Kenny McIntosh have also been offered, but he could fill more of an athlete role. The same can be said for New Jersey's Ronnie Hickman, and the Buckeyes appear to be way out in front in that one.

As things stand right now it's fair to expect at least one 2019 signee to come from this list, with Sampson James likely being the current leader in the clubhouse. 

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