Finding the right fit for your college football program isn't just about what happens on the field, but off it as well. Today, Ohio State added a key piece. How will that commitment impact the Buckeyes?
Ohio State landed a commitment from one of the country's most versatile playmakers when Roswell, Georgia, Blessed Trinity Catholic four-star athlete Steele Chambers pledged his services to the Buckeyes on Wednesday evening.
Let's take a closer look at what Chambers – the No. 340 prospect overall in the Class of 2019 – brings to Columbus.
ON THE FIELD
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Chambers is an athlete in every sense of the word.
No matter where he lines up on the field for the Titans, he’s made an impact. Last season alone, he rushed for 1,301 yards and 23 touchdowns and recorded 70 tackles, six tackles for a loss, two sacks and one interception to lead the program to its first-ever state championship.
Chambers is featured heavily in a two-back scheme that runs a lot of iso, counter and trap plays. When asked to run outside, though, he uses his excellent lateral quickness and overall speed to run right by would-be tacklers. It’s quite impressive for his overall size.
Chambers is every bit as good on the defensive side of the ball, as well.
He shows a tremendous combination of instincts, physicality, speed that allows him to successfully cover in space and rush off the edge. He quickly diagnoses plays and has a nose for the ball.
Chambers also excels on the baseball diamond, where he holds a .344 batting average through 40 career games, with 24 runs batted in, 16 stolen bases and one home run. He hopes to play both sports in Columbus.
IN THE CLASS
Chambers becomes the sixth member of Ohio State’s Dynasty ’19 recruiting class, quite possibly joining Indiana four-star Sampson James at the running back position. If that’s the case, Chambers’ pledge may very well bring to a close the Buckeyes’ pursuit of four-star running backs Noah Cain and Devyn Ford.
Though starting running back Mike Weber is almost assuredly off to the NFL following his redshirt junior season, Ohio State will — at the very least — still have J.K. Dobbins and incoming freshmen Jaelen Gill, Brian Snead and Master Teague III at the position in 2019. That doesn't even account for Antonio Williams and Demario McCall, who both made their case to the staff this spring that they also deserve to be featured in the Buckeyes’ offense.
Knowing that, I can’t imagine the staff would take three running backs this cycle. And prospects like Cain and Ford will certainly take the logjam into consideration when making their decision.
If the staff chooses to move forward with Chambers at linebacker, though, they’ll certainly make those intentions known sooner rather than later.
Ohio State took just one outside linebacker in four-star Dallas Gant last cycle, but may need put extra emphasis on the position this year. Though only Dante Booker is set to run out of eligibility following the 2018 season, junior Malik Harrison could potentially test the NFL waters with a strong year.
Others are facing a make-or-break season as they return from injury or fight to stay on the two-deep depth chart, so the Buckeyes could take as many as four linebackers this cycle. But like head coach Urban Meyer said on National Signing Day, it's pretty difficult to project the need at each position this early in the cycle unforeseen NFL departures or transfers.
In recent years, Ohio State has made it a point of going into talent-rich states and stealing elite prospects away from the underachieving local program.
In 2016, the Buckeyes landed three of the top six players in the state of Texas. The Longhorns had just fired head coach Charlie Strong, who compiled an overall record of 16-21 in three seasons at the helm.
In 2017, Ohio State landed four-star offensive tackle Max Wray and the above-mentioned Teague from right under Tennessee’s nose. The Volunteers started 0-6 in SEC play last fall and fired head coach Butch Jones halfway through his fifth season.
This year, though, the Buckeyes are going toe-to-toe with some of the nation’s best — and winning.
Chambers’ hometown is about an hour west of Georgia’s Athens campus, and he’s long been one of the Bulldogs’ top in-state targets. His pledge could certainly open the floodgates, too, seeing as the Buckeyes are among the top schools for fellow Peach State prospects like Buford four-star center Harry Miller, Griffin Spalding four-star wide receiver Zion Puckett, Marietta four-star wide receiver Ramel Keyton, Powder Springs Hillgrove four-star safety Jaylen McCollough Atlanta Marist three-star safety Kyle Hamilton.
If any ultimately choose to play their college ball in Columbus — and there’s a good chance Miller joins the fold sooner rather than later — it’ll put a serious dent in Georgia’s bid to repeat as the top-ranked recruiting class in the country.