The Hurry Up: Tony Alford Addresses Running Back Recruiting Efforts, Ohio State Commits Play on National Stage

By Taylor Lehman on August 22, 2019 at 6:30 pm
Tony Alford
Tony Alford

The Hurry Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.

Tony Alford: “We'll be fine”

Ohio State tight ends, running backs and linebackers were made available to the media Wednesday evening, marking the first time Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford would address the media after Bijan Robinson and Jaylan Knighton’s sudden flips to Texas and Florida State.

He couldn’t talk about each prospect or situation directly because of NCAA regulations and, in fact, said he wouldn’t anyway, but he was asked about similar hypothetical scenarios.

Alford is honest within his work. That’s what much of his reputation stands upon. 

“This is a very transparent program,” Alford said Wednesday about how he interacts with his running backs. “You’re not going to have to guess how I feel.”

So when he was asked by 247Sports’ Dave Biddle about a scenario in which a recruit calls Alford telling him he has suddenly decided to move away from the program after having nearly committed in the days before – very similar to Robinson’s situation – Alford was honest.

“It happens. That’s life,” Alford said. “It happens in every walk in life and in every job. Is it frustrating? Yeah. But at the end of the day, people have to do what they’ve got to do. It is what it is.”

To connect the dots, Robinson was nearly a lock to commit to Ohio State less than a week before his commitment date Aug. 2, but the Sunday before, he called the Buckeye staff, notifying Ohio State that he would not be committing to the program. He committed to Texas the following Friday.

It didn’t make things any easier when the Saturday before Robinson’s call, Jaylan Knighton had a major Florida State visit that convinced him to also commit away from Ohio State. Suddenly, the running back recruiting board was wiped clean, and the Buckeyes began scraping any relationship they could to make up for the losses. 

DeaMonte Trayanum appears to be solidly committed to Arizona State. Kendall Milton committed to Georgia the Monday after Robinson’s call. Then other running backs, like Sam Adams, Tank Bigsby and Lawrance Toafili committed shortly after. MarShawn Lloyd, who had been interested in Ohio State at one point, has been said to be locked into his South Carolina commitment.

Options are running short for Ohio State, and those options have been well-documented. But now in-state all-purpose back Mike Drennen is receiving crystal balls to Kentucky as recently as a few days ago, and EJ Smith’s future is still cloudy as well. Ohio State reached out and offered Texas No. 18 running back Tre Bradford without having talked to him before, so that relationship continues to grow.

The waters are still murky for the Buckeyes in running back recruiting, but Alford remains steadfast in his confidence within the room, after he named Demario McCall the No. 2 running back, followed by freshman Marcus Crowley, with one week to go until the season.

“We’ll be fine. I’ll put it that way,” Alford said. “And we’re going to get the guys that want to be here.”

Ohio State Commits Set for ESPN Kickoffs This Weekend

For those still unsure of when football season begins, it’s this weekend. Miami plays Florida in the college ranks Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. But this weekend also marks the beginning of the high school season, as ESPN kicks off its 10th annual nationally televised opening weekend. 

In terms of Ohio State interest, the weekend has become much less exciting than when the schedule was originally released in July, before Jaylan Knighton and Kendall Milton committed elsewhere and since Henry Gray fell down the board on Ohio State’s cornerback recruiting efforts again.

But looking at the seven games chronologically, these are the prospects to watch for during each game if you’re an Ohio State fan. Each list is sorted from top to bottom in relevance to Ohio State.

Mallard Creek vs. Dutch Fork – Friday, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN2

  • None

St. Thomas Aquinas vs. De La Salle (Calif.) – Friday, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU

  • No. 2 2022 offensive tackle Julian Armelia (St. Thomas Aquinas)
  • No. 5 2020 wide receiver and Georgia commit Marcus Rosemy (St. Thomas Aquinas)
  • No. 7 2020 outside linebacker and Florida commit Derek Wingo (St. Thomas Aquinas)
  • No. 40 2020 offensive guard and LSU commit Marlon Marinez (St. Thomas Aquinas)
  • No. 10 2020 offensive tackle Marcus Dumervil (St. Thomas Aquinas)

St. Frances vs. Miami Central – Saturday, noon ET, ESPN

  • No. 2 2021 all-purpose back Amari Daniels (Miami Central)
  • No. 9 2021 defensive tackle Katron Evans (St. Frances)
  • No. 12 2020 cornerback Henry Gray (Miami Central)
  • No. 16 2020 running back and Michigan commit Blake Corum (St. Frances)
  • No. 1 2020 defensive end and Alabama commit Chris Braswell (St. Frances)

Deerfield Beach vs. Carol City – Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, ESPNU

  • No. 3 2020 all-purpose back and Florida State commit Jaylan Knighton (Deerfield Beach)

DeMatha vs. St. John Bosco – Saturday, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN2

  • No. 12 2020 outside linebacker and Ohio State commit Kourt Williams (St. John Bosco)
  • No. 2 2021 wide receiver Beaux Collins (St. John Bosco)
  • No. 6 2021 inside linebacker Greg Penn (DeMatha)
  • No. 8 2020 running back and South Carolina commit MarShawn Lloyd (DeMatha)
  • No. 22 2020 defensive tackle and Penn State commit Coziah Izzard (DeMatha)
  • No. 1 2020 pro-style QB and Clemson commit D.J. Uiagaleiei (St. John Bosco)

Narbonne vs. Buchanan – Saturday, 11 p.m. ET, ESPNU

  • No. 4 2020 running back and Georgia commit Kendall Milton (Buchanan)
  • No. 3 2021 QB Jake Garcia (Narbonne)
  • No. 17 2020 outside linebacker Jordan Banks (Narbonne)

Southern Columbia vs. Hammond – Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN2

  • No. 1 2020 wide receiver and Ohio State commit Julian Fleming (Southern Columbia)

Will Shipley Featured in Video, Shows Off Footwork

Five-star all-purpose back allowed a small sports media company into a few of his workouts to film a short video showing him going through the process of a typical work out. What really stood out was how quick his footwork is.

Shipley, who is rated as the No. 1 all-purpose back and No. 21 2021 prospect overall, has some of the best footwork in the country, and it shows up on his tape. The North Carolina tailback ran a 4.46 40-yard dash at The Opening Regional in April.

Shipley told Eleven Warriors earlier this month that he is “looking into visiting” Ohio State and maintains contact with Brian Hartline. 

Shipley posted an impressive sophomore campaign, carrying the ball 206 times for 1,417 yards and 19 touchdowns and catching 28 passes for 393 yards and six touchdowns.

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