Ryan Day and Tony Alford's running game will once again be in good hands in 2019. The Buckeyes' depth at the position is in fine shape and certainly doesn't have the concerning personnel needs like we see along the offensive line. Still, it's going to be a much different look for Ohio State's ground attack.
Mike Weber's departure for the NFL wasn't a big surprise, but even with J.K. Dobbins set to lead the charge, Ohio State's backfield isn't quite as loaded as in years past.
It had been speculated for several months, but on Friday it was finally announced that Brian Snead – the country's No. 3 tailback in the Class of 2018 – is no longer a part of the team and won't be returning to Columbus. He had some promise early on when he ran for 37 yards and a touchdown in the first two games of his short-lived career. The exact details of his offense remain unclear, but losing a player of Snead's caliber is a blow to Alford's running back room.
Demario McCall has moved back to tailback after seeing time at H-back and Master Teague will look to build on a true freshman season that saw the Tennessee native carry the ball 17 times for 106 yards and a score. Both of them will be firmly in the mix in 2019 with McCall clearly bringing a bit more versatility to the table.
Urban Meyer, Ryan Day, and the Ohio State staff have had plenty of big wins for the Class of 2019. The more noteworthy names include five-star defensive end Zach Harrison and five-star wideout Garrett Wilson. One of the less-heralded 2019 signees – at least in terms of national ranking – was three-star Jacksonville tailback Marcus Crowley.
The former Miami pledge is already on campus and could prove to be one of the class's more impactful signees. And that impact may come sooner rather than later.
Get ready Buckeye Nation ... He's coming!! Marcus Crowley !! pic.twitter.com/NCLrCTBvX2
— CWillis (@Iamsirfishalot) November 12, 2018
Obviously no one is expecting Teague, McCall, or Crowley to take too many carries away from Dobbins, but on paper it's a solid stable at the position. Dobbins wasn't quite as electric in 2018 and some attribute that to the sometimes confusing rotation that was implemented between he and Weber.
Ohio State released its updated team roster this week and Crowley is listed at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds. Those are fine measurables for a freshman tailback, but getting to campus this month and putting in work with Mickey Marotti is only going to help his case for early playing time.
Recent years have shown that enrolling early can pay dividends, but it's really more about opportunity than anything else.
|2018||Brian Snead, Master Teague||28|
|2016||Demario McCall, Antonio Williams||55|
|2015||Mike Weber (Redshirted)||0|
Ohio State's 2019 tailback recruiting was a bit of a fiasco thanks to due the Sampson James saga and some unintended consequences of taking an athlete who could play running back or linebacker at the collegiate level.
James was a priority target and early pledge for the Buckeyes. The four-star then flipped to the Hoosiers and signed with them last month. The staff's pursuit of Steele Chambers hurt their chances of nabbing Virginia's Devyn Ford, who ultimately sided with Penn State. Chambers will begin his career in the backfield but some seem to prefer him on the defensive side of the ball.
All of this led Alford down to Jacksonville to turn up the heat on Marcus Crowley. He was eventually crowned as Florida's Gatorade Player of the Year, and that's certainly a high accolade given all of the talent in the Sunshine State. Crowley led Trinity Christian Academy to the Class 5A semifinals while tallying 2,325 yards rushing and 31 total touchdowns.
The composite rankings have him pegged as the country's No. 27 tailback and 50th-best prospect in the state of Florida. He recently was bumped up to a four-star over on Rivals.com, which honestly seems more in line with the accolades and senior season that he put together.
The Buckeye backfield is in great hands with Dobbins serving as the bell cow, but the departures of Mike Weber and Brian Snead will no doubt open the door for some more playing time. When we look back on the 2019 class, there's a very real chance that flipping Marcus Crowley from the Hurricanes turns out to be a significant win for the staff.
There will be plenty of opportunity for the Floridian to show that he's more than just the three-star prospect who replaced Sampson James in Ohio State's 2019 recruiting class. Even with Teague and McCall in the mix, I'd look for Marcus Crowley to make some noise early and often as a true freshman.