National 2020 Running Back Dominos Are Falling and Ohio State is Involved

By Taylor Lehman on May 29, 2019 at 11:05 am
Kendall Milton

More 2020 cut lists were released Tuesday, and not only did Ohio State represent well in each list, it's represented well in several top running backs' recruitments.

With No. 1 2020 wideout Julian Fleming’s commitment looming in the next few days, most Buckeye fans are on the edge of their seats wondering just how big Ohio State will go at the wide receiver position in 2020. But, in a scenario that hasn’t been a reality for Ohio State in recent years, the running back position is one the Buckeyes need to hit the hardest during the 2020 cycle.

They are poised to address the position in some major ways too.

Most who follow Ohio State recruiting closely understand that the Buckeyes are heavily involved with five-star running backs Kendall Milton and Bijan Robinson, but in the last couple of days, Ohio State has been included in two final cut lists – Zachary Evans and Sam Adams – proving that Ohio State is still a place that most top running backs consider as a top-tier destination.

The most telling of Tuesday’s cut lists was 2020 No. 1 overall prospect Zachary Evans. The Houston running back has been in contact with Ohio State since last summer, and the Buckeyes have been patient with building a relationship with the tailback, as Crystal Ball projections have been released with no sign of Ohio State at all.

In fact, none of his top-five schools were included in those Crystal Balls. He narrowed the field down to Ohio State, LSU, Georgia, Alabama and Oklahoma, but he had been Crystal Ball’d to Texas A&M, Texas and Oklahoma State. The chances of him selecting Ohio State are still small.

What’s important, though, is that Ohio State continues to compete with other top programs for the best running backs in the country. Currently, it’s included in the final cut lists for the No. 1 and No. 3 (Kendall Milton) running backs in the class, and the No. 5 running back (Bijan Robinson) is making an official visit in June.

With the way that running back dominos fall, there is a very small chance Ohio State gets more than one commitment from the top-five running backs. There’s also a chance the Buckeyes don’t get any commitments.

With three of the top-five tailbacks interested in Ohio State, and the No. 2 running back committed to Clemson and No. 4 pledged to Oklahoma, there are four programs – Ohio State, Alabama, LSU and Georgia – fighting for the commitments of two top-tier backs in particular – Milton and Evans.

Robinson is looking at more West Coast schools, with UCLA expected to put up the toughest fight with the Buckeyes. His teammate, No. 4 safety Lathan Ransom, is also interested in Ohio State and LSU and has said that he would like to play with Robinson if possible. He seems like the best bet for Ohio State at this point, and he has a June official to make to Columbus. Milton will also visit this week for his official, and 247Sports reported that Evans hopes to visit Columbus this summer as well.

One commitment that somewhat threw a wrench into the race for Ohio State was MarShawn Lloyd’s over the weekend. The No. 6 running back was anticipated to be going to Georgia, but he chose South Carolina instead. Had he chosen Georgia, it likely would’ve been a three-team race for Milton and Evans, rather than four.

If it plays out that Evans, Milton and Robinson all choose schools not named Ohio State, it’s not the death of the position for the Buckeyes. There is a chance that J.K. Dobbins stays for his senior year in 2020, which would guarantee a legitimate starter. And there are also other places to turn within the class.

The first fallback would be No. 9 running back Jalen Berger, who visited Ohio State in April and left with good vibes with Ohio State and Columbus. At 6-foot, 187 pounds, Berger isn’t necessarily built like other top-10 running backs, but he could be a solid option at the collegiate level.

Sam Adams, the No. 16 running back in the class and high school teammate of Ohio State commit Gee Scott Jr., dropped his top-six and included Ohio State. The Buckeyes haven’t exactly been hitting his recruitment that hard, but if the dominos fall, and Ohio State is still a landing spot for top running backs closer to the end of the cycle, it’d be tough for a running back like Adams to not consider the Buckeyes. Texas A&M seems to be the favorite for him though.

Akron four-star running back DeaMonte Trayanum is the last of the three-down-type running backs typically listed for Ohio State, but as the No. 24 running back in the class, he could certainly put himself in a position to make a difference for Ohio State. He has the athleticism, strength and numbers to make a case for the “underrated” tag. He has an official visit scheduled for Ohio State on June 19 and seems to be all but committed to the Buckeyes at this point.

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