The Hurry-Up: Ohio State Outduels North Carolina and Georgia to Pull Evan Pryor Out of the Tar Heel State and the SEC

By Zack Carpenter on March 17, 2020 at 6:30 pm
Evan Pryor
Evan Pryor (Don Callahan, 247Sports)

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.

Ohio State outduels UNC, Georgia

The importance of Evan Pryor's commitment goes beyond just settling any nerves that Ohio State won't get one of the main running backs it was gunning for in the 2021 cycle.

(You can read more on why he was one of the Buckeyes' main targets and is a big get here in Eleven Warriors' analysis of the commitment here.)

Another reason this commitment should be seen as a huge win for Ohio State is because of how Pryor glowed about the SEC's strong running back reputation and how seriously he had considered staying home in North Carolina.

For one, the SEC backs up Pryor's assertions every single year, and yet, he still chose the Buckeyes as his springboard to the pros. That cannot be overlooked as Ohio State moves forward, as it hopes to catch back up with programs like Georgia and Alabama in terms of elite running back recruiting.

As for the Tar Heels, they had been making the two-hour drive to William Amos Hough High School for years, with running backs coach Robert Gillespie leading the way by getting into those hallways ever since Pryor was a freshman. The two have a great relationship, and that was one of the walls that Tony Alford had to break down. 

Mack Brown has been putting a major emphasis on keeping North Carolina high school players in the state, and the strategy has worked as the Tar Heels climbed all the way to No. 4 in the national recruiting rankings. In an interview with Eleven Warriors in early March, Pryor told us that he was one of the first recruits who Brown contacted and established a relationship with after he got the UNC job in November 2018.

“(Brown) was just telling me how important I am there in the state as a running back and what I could do for in-state recruiting as a whole,” Pryor said. “Coach Brown and I have a very strong relationship. And Coach G and I, we’ve had a relationship for a long time as well. He was there when since the last staff was there. That’s going back, I’d say, about three or four years – all the way back to my freshman year with Coach G. That’s a pretty solid relationship. 

“(That relationship with Gillespie is) huge. It’s gonna be a tough decision because you’ve been around him for a long time. He’s like family at that point. You’re building relationships, and I have a lot of love for those people because they’re looking out for you and want the best for you. Our relationship is great.”

“I feel great about the family situation”

Going to UNC, Pryor says, would have been a great option for him and his family, and he was excited that “being able to play for my hometown state and put on for North Carolina and play with my dogs at the same time would be a cool situation as well,” he told us in early March.

As for Georgia, Pryor told us in that interview that “their ability to pump their backs into the NFL” is a big reason the Bulldogs had put themselves in a good situation in his recruitment and that “it’s another school with a family feel – getting that feeling that, hey this could be the place for me, and my family approves as well.”

So, in the end, why did Pryor choose the Buckeyes?

“Because I feel good about the situation, and I feel great about the family situation and feel great about the family feel there – how Coach (Ryan) Day and Coach Alford’s relationships are with me,” Pryor said. “And just having my family approve it as well – being all in with my family. That it’s not just saying, ‘Hey, I’m in this for me.’ But that it’s a great decision that benefits others around me and ultimately will help me accomplish my dreams.”

Because he feels Alford and Ohio State can best help him get to the pros, Pryor couldn't wait any longer. He wanted to wait until he could commit in person on his scheduled visit March 18-20, looking in Alford and Day's eyes to say he fully on board. But with the cancellation of recruiting visits due to the coronavirus outbreak, Pryor altered his plan. He privately committed to Alford and the Buckeyes on Sunday night, announced on Monday evening, and now Day has a home-run threat to use in his offense.

Another RB soon in the fold?

Five-star running back TreVeyon Henderson has suddenly come into the mix as a high possibility to join Ohio State, and just like many other recruits, his timeline seems to be put on fast forward with visit cancellations and the uncertainties that abound. 

On Monday night, two hours after Pryor's announcement, Henderson trimmed his list to a group of nine schools:

Ohio State is much, much closer to the top of that list than the bottom or even the middle. Oklahoma is also expected to be in that upper echelon of that list.

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