Bo Jackson Committed to Ohio State Because of Family Atmosphere, Location and Relationship with Running Backs Coach Carlos Locklyn

By Dan Hope on June 24, 2024 at 8:35 am
Carlos Locklyn and Bo Jackson

Bo Jackson didn’t know he would commit to Ohio State when he arrived in Columbus for his official visit on the first weekend of June. By the end of the weekend, however, the four-star running back from Northeast Ohio knew Ohio State would be his future home.

“I came down with an open mind. I didn't know if I was gonna commit, really. But then I got here, I felt the family atmosphere with the players and the coaches,” Jackson said.

Jackson, the No. 5 running back and No. 81 overall prospect in the 247Sports composite rankings for the 2025 recruiting class, has been a priority target for the Buckeyes since they offered him after he camped at Ohio State two years ago. As he emerged as one of the top running backs in his class, Ohio State was always at the forefront of his recruitment, though there were rumblings in the weeks leading up to his commitment that Georgia and Alabama had gained ground on OSU.

In the end, Jackson didn’t even make his scheduled official visit to Alabama after he decided there was no reason for him to leave his home state.

“The location is right down the street, and I love what they got going on in the program,” Jackson said of Ohio State after participating in the Buckeyes' final positional camp of the summer last week.

While Ohio State was seen as a favorite to land Jackson from the day it offered him, Ohio State’s standing as the frontrunner in his recruitment came into question with former running back coach Tony Alford’s unexpected departure for Michigan in March. But Jackson already had a relationship with new running backs coach Carlos Locklyn, who also recruited Jackson in his previous job at Oregon. Their bond has continued to grow since Locklyn joined Ohio State’s staff in April, leading to Jackson becoming Locklyn’s first commitment at OSU.

“I got a real good relationship with Coach Lock,” Jackson said. “He's intense, but he’ll still joke around with you.”

Jackson likes that Locklyn coaches his players hard, and Jackson’s decision to camp at Ohio State last Monday despite already being committed was driven by his desire to get some on-field work in with his future running backs coach.

“It was nothing to show, nothing to prove. I just wanted to get some work in with Coach Lock,” Jackson said.

Jackson, who says he’s “always looked up to” his namesake who won the 1985 Heisman Trophy at Auburn, believes he can bring a similar combination of speed and power to Ohio State. Currently listed at 6 feet and 205 pounds, Jackson was recently clocked running a sub-4.3-second 40-yard dash during training.

Locklyn has told Jackson he likes Jackson’s ability to be both an inside runner and a receiver out of the backfield.

“He said he liked my routes out of the backfield, hands,” Jackson said. “And he liked that I'm an in-between-the-tackles runner.”

Going into his senior year at Cleveland’s Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School, Jackson said he’s working on continuing to improve his speed and strength as well as his footwork and ball security as he looks to finish his high school career strong before starting his Ohio State career next year.

Jackson was the first of two running backs in his class to commit to Ohio State this month. Philadelphia running back Isaiah West committed to the Buckeyes on June 16, just 12 days after Jackson. Ohio State is still hoping to add a third running back to its 2025 class after hosting Jordon Davison, the No. 6 running back and No. 96 overall prospect in the class, on an official visit this past weekend.

“I came down with an open mind. I didn't know if I was gonna commit, really. But then I got here, I felt the family atmosphere with the players and the coaches.”– Bo Jackson on committing to Ohio State after his official visit

Other schools that want those running backs could look to use that as a negative recruiting tactic against Ohio State, but the Buckeyes’ incoming freshman running backs will have a realistic opportunity to compete for immediate playing time in 2025, particularly if Quinshon Judkins enters the NFL draft along with outgoing senior TreVeyon Henderson.

Jackson says he is unbothered by Ohio State bringing in additional running backs in his class and that he is locked in with his commitment to the Buckeyes no matter who else joins him at the position.

“I'm not worried about that,” Jackson said. “I'm here.”

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