The Hurry-Up: Tony Alford Scores Again, Makes Up for 2020 Running Back Recruiting By Building Strong Relationships with TreVeyon Henderson and Evan Pryor

By Zack Carpenter on March 29, 2020 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.

Alford completes turnaround

The turnaround has come much faster than we anticipated for Tony Alford, but it has happened nonetheless.

With five-star running back TreVeyon Henderson's commitment to pair with the commitment of four-star running back Evan Pryor, Tony Alford has made the last two cycles look like hiccups by landing two of the top-six running backs in the 2021 class (Henderson at No. 2; Pryor at No. 6).

How has he done it? With a no-B.S. approach in which he has been fully honest with the guys he's recruiting and by building genuine relationships with players centered around long, non-football-related discussions.

Pryor's first visit to Columbus was very impactful, as right from the start he gave Pryor a pitch that was disguised as a non-pitch (something we've dubbed “the non-pitch sales pitch” that Ohio State implements on the recruiting trail).

Nonetheless, even if it's a pitch, it was genuine, and Pryor said he had never had any other conversation or experience like that from other coaches. While other coaches center their recruiting around football, non-sports-related conversations have been Alford's route, and that made an impression on Pryor and his family.

“My dad thought it was great. He was like ‘that’s somebody and a staff that I don’t have any issue with sending my son off to college with,’” Pryor told Eleven Warriors in October. “He wasn’t just recruiting me for Ohio State. He was saying to make the right decision overall for yourself and your family. Even if it’s not Ohio State, he said he was still gonna respect me and stuff like that. ... He was telling me it’s not only a four-year decision. It’s a 40-year decision. He said he felt like Ohio State was the best place for me for that 40-year decision and that I’d be covered down the line.”

Fast forward a little less than five months later, when Eleven Warriors talked to Pryor about why he felt such a strong pull to the Buckeyes, he had not wavered on the reasons why.

“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.

The pull for so many recruits to Columbus is because of what the Ohio State program calls “The Brotherhood.” It's a family-type of atmosphere and closeness that most of the top-tier programs in the nation has, and the Buckeyes are toward the top of the list in that regard.

Alford is, for running back recruits, very representative of that family atmosphere and the genuine feelings that exude from that program. 

“We’ve got a great relationship. We text every day. We talk every day,” Henderson told Eleven Warriors. “I talk to some of the commits a lot too. Just how tight that team is. They’re very tight. And how they help their players, not just on the field but off the field. They’ve got this program called Real Life Wednesdays. I think that’s pretty cool what they have going on there.”

Henderson's relationship with Alford wasn't the sole reason he chose Ohio State, of course, as Day and Al Washington, who handed him an offer back when Washington was a linebackers coach at Michigan, are also two whom he is close with.

“We’ve got a good relationship, too. I like Coach Day a lot,” Henderson said. “He’s a pretty chill dude, but when I look at videos before the games and stuff, his speeches and talks he gives his team, I really like how hyped he gets before the games. 

“Me and Coach Al talk a lot. He’s a good dude. He’s been recruiting me since he was at Michigan. ... Nothing’s really changed. He’s still the same dude. He’s still the same guy as when he went over to Ohio State.”

When we spoke with Andre Turrentine's head coach, Roc Batten, at Ensworth (Tenn.) High School, he made it very clear that it wasn't just Kerry Coombs who had made waves with Turrentine. Though Batten said Coombs was “the partial closer,” it was an all-hands-on-deck approach for the Buckeyes, with Day, Matt Barnes and Alford each making a major impact and doing a lot of the recruiting and relationship-building.

“I think Coach Coombs was – I don’t wanna call it a cherry on top – but a great addition with his track record because Coach Barnes and Coach Alford did a great job in the context of recruiting him the last couple years with the consistent communication. After they offered him, I thought those guys did the legwork,” Batten said. “I wanna give Coach Barnes a lot of credit and Coach Day, of course, and Coach Alford. Those guys have done a really good job of just continuing to communicate with him during the times they can and expressed the interest and where they see him fitting in their system.”

After taking a lot of criticism after the 2020 running backs cycle, Alford has made a 180-degree turnaround. After the Turrentine and Pryor commitments, Alford moved into the No. 2 slot in 247Sports' top 10 recruiter rankings for the 2021 class after finishing all the way down at No. 243 in the 2020 class.

And after he landed Henderson on Friday night? He's now ranked No. 1 in those rankings.

Similar to what offensive line coach Greg Studrawa has done (he went from being ranked No. 228 in the 2020 cycle to No. 23 in the 2021 class), Alford is getting a proverbial monkey off his back.

Nothing is set in stone yet. Until the player signs his NLI in December or February, nothing is finished. But as of today, we know that Alford has made an impressive turnaround.

Ohio State's recruiting rivals

Just in case you missed it, I wanted to throw in a quick blurb to highlight Eleven Warriors' new weekly recruiting series, Counter Intel, written by Mick Walker.

We believe it's important to keep you guys abreast of recruiting goings-on around the nation and in the Midwest. This series will be updating you on what the other Big Ten schools and major Power 5 programs are doing on the recruiting trail.

The series premiere dropped this morning, and you can check it out here, to catch up on Maryland's huge recruiting win, Greg Schiano continuing to build momentum at Rutgers and Michigan ending its commitment drought.

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