Ryan Day, Buckeyes Appear to Be Zeroing in on a Trio of Midwest Playmakers to Fill the 2020 Need at H-Back

By Andrew Ellis on February 26, 2019 at 2:15 pm
Dublin's Michael Drennen II is high on all three Midwest powers.
Four-star Dublin Coffman ATH Michael Drennen II

Whether you refer to it as the H-back, slot, or simply the playmaker position, one of Ohio State's more coveted offensive roles continues to deliver. We've seen Braxton Miller, Curtis Samuel, and Parris Campbell all make a tremendous impact as each of them was able to compile stats as a rusher and a receiver.

That trend will undoubtedly continue into 2019 with guys like K.J. Hill, Demario McCall, and redshirt freshman Jaelen Gill all potentially in line to see some handoffs and receptions. It was a staple under Urban Meyer and the often-dubbed "Percy Harvin role" – even if it has evolved since his time at Florida – will live on with Ryan Day at the helm.

Looking ahead a bit, Ohio State's 2020 recruiting class is coming together quite nicely with some key areas of need already being addressed. The 2019 class didn't really include a potential H-back, and while Jaelen Gill does still has freshman eligibility, this is likely an area that Day will choose to address in his first full recruiting class. 

The staff has offered a number of 2020 playmakers, but at the moment it appears as though things could come down to a trio of Midwest products to help fill the need at H-back. All three have received Buckeye offers, and there's a chance that Ohio State, Michigan, and Notre Dame may each sign one of the versatile athletes. 

Michael Drennen II • Dublin, Ohio • 5-foot-11, 195 pounds • ★★★★ • Nat. Rank: No. 179

Dublin Coffman's Michael Drennen II lines up at wide receiver and running back for the Shamrocks and he's certainly got the size/speed combination to fill the H-back role down the road in Columbus. Drennen has offers from all over the country – including the likes of Florida State, Georgia, and Tennessee – but it seems like this one will come down to the Buckeyes, Wolverines, Irish, and perhaps the Nittany Lions. 

The four-star all-purpose back has a great relationship with Tony Alford and is a friend and teammate of 2021 safety A.J. Kirk—the younger brother of Mike Doss who will most assuredly receive an Ohio State offer sometime in the coming year. As for Drennen, the Buckeyes offered last June and he's since made trips to Notre Dame, Michigan, and Ohio State.

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Jutahn McClain • Fairfield, Ohio • 5-foot-10, 180 pounds • ★★★ • Nat. Rank: No. 390

Jutahn McClain is the state's No. 9 prospect and the all-purpose back holds offers from all the major Midwest powers. As a junior he found end zone 30 times while compiling close to 1,800 yards on the ground. Ohio State extended an offer to the Fairfield product back in October and he's made trips to Columbus, Ann Arbor, and most recently South Bend.

Ohio State's been doing quite well in the Cincinnati area, but it did miss out on five-star Fairfield tackle Jackson Carman back in 2018. McClain had some great things to say about his recent trip to Notre Dame and he's another guy who seems likely to end up at one of the three Midwest foes. He's in no hurry to make a decision, however.

Cameron Martinez • Muskegon, Michigan • 5-foot-11, 175 pounds • ★★★ • Nat Rank: No. 421

Michigan's Cameron Martinez may actually be the most intriguing option of the bunch, and the Muskegon athlete has a bit of a Jalin Marshall feel to his game. Unlike Drennen and McClain, the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder lines up at quarterback in his team's option offense. Ohio State offered just a few weeks back and the staff is looking at him as both a playmaker and a defensive back. 

A three-star prospect and the No. 11 player in Michigan, Martinez captured the state's Player of the Year honors for the 2018 season. As a junior – his first season as Muskegon's starter – he ran for over 2,500 yards and 38 touchdowns. Ohio State and Michigan are both very much in the picture, but it may be Northwestern at the top of his list. He's made multiple visits to Evanston and the educational component is a big factor in this one.

While tailback is going to get the bulk of the hype, the 2020 class is certainly in need of a do-it-all playmaker as well. Ohio State, Michigan, and Notre Dame are all very much in the picture for the trio and the Midwest programs may end up being the landing spot for each one. For Ryan Day and his staff, it may simply be a matter of preference as the 2020 cycle unfolds. 

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