One of Ohio’s top running back prospects in the class of 2023 had an encouraging visit to Ohio State during the Buckeyes’ 33-24 victory over Penn State on Oct. 30.
Willtrell Hartson, a 5-foot-9, 200-pound three-star running back from Massillon, said he enjoyed his time on campus.
“It was great, I had a fun time there,” Hartson told Eleven Warriors. “It was really a great environment, I enjoyed myself.”
Hartson, who does not yet hold an Ohio State offer, was making his second gameday visit of the fall, as he also attended the Oregon game in September. While in Columbus, Hartson spoke with running backs coach Tony Alford on the visit. Alford attended one of Hartson’s games earlier this season.
It’s been a tough month for the 2023 standout, as Hartson has missed several games with an ankle injury, including Massillon’s first two playoff games. As a sophomore, Hartson rushed for 1,111 yards. In six games this year, he ran for 831 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 138.5 yards per game.
“(Coach Alford and I) were just talking about my high school season and he just wanted to make sure I stayed healthy and stuff,” Hartson said.
With Massillon set to take on No. 1 seed Big Walnut in the regional semifinals of the Ohio high school playoffs on Friday, Hartson is still uncertain if he’ll be able to suit up.
“I don’t know yet,” Hartson said on if he’d be able to play the rest of the year.
But his injury isn’t stopping him from doing whatever he can to contribute to his team.
“It’s part of football,” Hartson said. “You’re going to have some bruises and bumps. I’m still going to help the team. I’ll be at practice every day helping the next man up. I can’t really do anything about it, so I might as well help the team.”
Hartson, who grew up both a Buckeyes and Georgia Bulldogs fan because he always appreciated Georgia running backs, has not been told if and when an offer might come. OSU would like to take two running backs in the 2023 cycle, and Richard Young and Justice Haynes remain the Buckeyes’ top targets. But if either goes elsewhere, Hartson could be next up.
“It would be amazing for me, my family and the city, too,” Hartson said of potentially playing for the Buckeyes. “They love Ohio State, that’s who they root for. It would be great to put that uniform on someday.”
Hartson, who does not have a commitment timetable, is considering returning to Ohio State for one of its two remaining home games against Purdue and Michigan State.
Second-round Ohio playoff results
The second round of the Ohio high school playoffs took place over the weekend with various Ohio State commits and targets participating in games around the state.
Below is a look at how Ohio State’s in-state targets and commits fared in the second round of the playoffs, with regional semifinals coming up this week.
Lakota West 49, Milford 14: Two weeks, two blowout victories for Lakota West, where 2022 OSU commits Tegra Tshabola and Jyaire Brown suit up. No. 3 Lakota West took care of business Friday, winning 49-14. It will face No. 2 St. Xavier in the regional semifinals Friday at Princeton Jake Sweeney Automotive Stadium.
Pickerington Central 28, Hilliard Bradley 10: The Sonny Styles-led No. 2 Pickerington Central launched itself into the regional semifinals with a 28-10 victory over Hilliard Bradley Friday evening at Newark Paul “Hoss” Starr Stadium at White Field in Newark. Next up for Pickerington Central is a Friday rematch with rival Pickerington North, the No. 6 seed in the region, who handed Pickerington Central its lone loss of the season on Sept. 10 in a 13-10 overtime result.
Marysville 42, Perrysburg 6: An undefeated season continues for 2022 Ohio State linebacker commit Gabe Powers and No. 1 Marysville after a 42-6 victory over No. 8 Perrysburg on Friday. Marysville will face No. 4 Whitmer in the regional semifinals Friday at AcuSport Stadium in Bellefontaine.
Findlay 38, Dublin Coffman 8: The Montgomery brothers already led Findlay to its first postseason win in 16 years last week. Might as well make it two in a row, right? No. 6 Findlay took down No. 14 Dublin Coffman 38-8 Friday, thus ending the season of 2023 defensive tackle Will Smith Jr. Ryan Montgomery completed 14 of 18 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns, while his older brother Luke finished with five tackles and one sack on the evening. Findlay will play No. 2 Springfield, which has a 2023 wide receiver target in Anthony Brown (even though he’s a Minnesota commit), on Friday at Spartan Stadium in Lima.
Massillon 50, Westerville South 19: Hartson didn’t play for No. 4 Massillon as stated, but it took care of business anyway, winning 50-19. Massillon will face No. 1 seed Big Walnut in the regional semifinals at Senior Arlin Field in Mansfield.
Tippecanoe 37, Archbishop Alter 28: The prolific high school career of C.J. “Captain Buckeye” Hicks came to an end last Friday. After pulling off an upset in the opening round of the playoffs, No. 15 Archbishop Alter couldn’t do it two times in a row, falling 37-28 to No. 7 Tippecanoe.
Following the loss, Hicks described his high school football career as a “blessing” in a postgame tweet.
It was truly a blessing to have been able to be with my brothers all through these year. These are times I will never ever forget. I hope I left an ever lasting legacy at Alter 1 out.— CJ KING Hicks (@imcjhicks) November 6, 2021
The next time Hicks takes a football field, it will be for the scarlet and gray. In the meantime, the five-star linebacker released his senior highlight film on Monday.
St. Clairsville 38, Carrollton 9: 2022 Ohio State offensive tackle commit Avery Henry and No. 2 St. Clairsville vaulted themselves into the regional semifinals with ease Friday, when they took down No. 7 Carrollton 38-9. St. Clairsville will face No. 6 Meadowbrook on Friday at Indian Valley Braves Stadium in Gnadenhutten.
Neal reflects on offer
“The Ohio State offer is a huge, huge offer for me,” Neal told On3. “It is a hell of an institution, a great football team, and the environment is amazing.”
After Neal received his offer, he visited OSU a few weeks later on Sept. 25 for the Akron game. A Washington, D.C. resident, the 6-foot-3, 265-pound defensive lineman has nine Division I offers, including Louisville, Maryland, N.C. State and Virginia. He does not yet have a 247Sports composite ranking.