UPDATE: Just about two hours after reports began circulating that four-star Indiana running back Sampson James had decommitted from Ohio State, he confirmed the suspicion that he would be remaining close to home, as he tweeted that he had committed to the Indiana Hoosiers.
Ohio State got the win on the field Saturday when they beat Indiana 49-26, but it wasn’t all good news for the Buckeyes this weekend. Just about a week after landing their first commit in two months when Jameson Williams joined the 2019 class, we have more action today, as reports surfaced that running back Sampson James was decommitting from Ohio State.
Can confirm Avon RB Sampson James has decommitted from Ohio State. High level of interest in Indiana.— Kyle Neddenriep (@KyleNeddenriep) October 7, 2018
James, ranked as the No. 8 running back and 163rd best player in the country by 247Sports, had been committed to Ohio State since March, and had been generally very quiet since then. He doesn’t list any visits since that commitment, and up until this weekend, there had been no real talk about him not being a member of the class.
That changed as 247Sports Crystal Balls starting rolling in for a flip to his home state school, Indiana, and just as quickly as those started to come in, James confirmed the rumors, as he joined Kane Patterson as the second Buckeye recruit to decommit in the 2019 class.
Whenever there’s a decommitment from Ohio State, the first instinct of fans is to just assume that Ohio State pushed the kid out, and while I think there may be a little truth to that here, this is also a case of Sampson wanting to stay closer to home, and maybe the realization that he may not be a great fit for this offensive scheme. While he hasn’t officially committed anywhere yet, my guess is that he joins Indiana’s class sooner rather than later.
This decommitment likely means that Ohio State is back on the market for a second back to pair with Steele Chambers. Unfortunately, it’s not a great year to be in need of a running back, and there’s really only two options that make much sense for Ohio State. Firstly, they could try to get back in on IMG star Noah Cain, who was a big target of the Buckeyes last year before falling off a bit this year. He seems either LSU or Texas-bound right now, but I do think Ohio State could get back in on him if they want to.
The other option, and probably the more likely one, is that Ohio State looks towards Dayton back John Bivens. Bivens is the 20th ranked running back, and 395th best player, according to 247Sports. Right now, he’s favoring Cincinnati, Kentucky, Louisville and Nebraska, and while Ohio State hasn’t really considered him a take to this point, I think they could absolutely land him if they were to extend an offer.