Tony Alford is looking to strike gold once again.
After a slight lull in 2020, Ohio State's running back recruiting was the best in the country for the Class of 2021. Miyan Williams was a three-star signee after the Buckeyes missed on several of their top-rated targets, and he actually flashed at times as a true freshman despite seeing just 10 carries. The 2021 class saw two of the best players at the position join the fray, and both TreVeyon Henderson and Evan Pryor are already on campus.
Ryan Day's 2022 recruiting class has a nice little lead atop the national rankings. The class already features three five-star prospects including the nation's No. 1 player in Quinn Ewers. Ohio State has also addressed wide receiver, cornerback, offensive line, and Al Washington has what's sure to be the country's best linebacker haul. At running back, the Buckeyes still have some work to do.
After the superb 2021 haul, there's still some uncertainty surrounding running back numbers for the current cycle. The end of the upcoming season could see Master Teague's departure and it remains to be seen what kind of contributors Marcus Crowley and Steele Chambers can be. Despite being a true freshman, Miyan Williams seemed to take over the third spot on the depth chart behind only Teague and Trey Sermon.
Tony Alford has done a fine job on the trail since his arrival in 2015. That's hardly a surprise considering that he served as Brian Kelly's ace recruiter during his six-year stint in South Bend. As Alford looks to put together another fine haul for the Class of 2022, he finds himself locked in a battle with the Fighting Irish.
Ohio State is looking to add another top tailback, and there's certainly a chance the Buckeyes end up signing another pair. Three backs have emerged above the rest for the 2022 class. Brian Kelly and the Irish seem to have their sights set on the very same trio.
The one twist to this Buckeyes vs. Irish pursuit is going to be that Notre Dame did just secure a commitment from a different back. Texas's Jadarian Price announced his commitment to the Irish on Sunday, giving Brian Kelly one piece of what should be a two-back class. Alford is still looking for his first.
Nicholas Singleton hasn't officially narrowed his recruitment down quite yet, but most expect that either the Buckeyes, Irish, or Nittany Lions will come out on top. The 6-foot, 210 pounder is the nation's No. 7 tailback. He was trending toward an earlier decision but will now wait until he's able to make it back to some campuses. Penn State has had all kinds of struggles when it comes to keeping in-state targets from leaving Pennsylvania. We'll see if that trend continues.
Memphis tailback Dallan Hayden isn't quite as highly rated as Singleton, but he's right there at the top of the board for both Ohio State and Notre Dame. The country's No. 25 back and No. 255 overall prospect, the Midwest powers appear to be the frontrunners at the moment. Hayden is a Tennessee legacy, but the Vols seem to have faded a bit due to the poor performance, coaching changes, and recent NCAA violations. The reigning Mr. Football in the state of Tennessee, Hayden is planning on visiting his favorites this spring and is expected to decide before his senior season.
When it comes to Atlanta's Damari Alston, the Buckeyes definitely appear to be more of a factor than the Irish even though he has visited South Bend. Alston was planning on getting to Columbus this spring, but that was before the announcement of the dead period being extended. This one seems like it's heading more toward an Ohio State vs. the SEC battle, but Notre Dame still appears to be a factor as well.
When the recruiting calendar finally returns to some sense of normalcy, Tony Alford and the Buckeyes will undoubtedly be hosting many of their top targets. The same can be said for the Fighting Irish and programs all across the country. Right now, Alford seems to be focusing on a trio of targets at the position to potentially fill just one spot. He'll be looking to take down an old foe to keep Ohio State's running back recruiting rolling right along.