This week started off with a bang (or a boom, rather) for the Ohio State Buckeyes on the recruiting trail, as they picked up a commitment from one of the nation’s best running backs, Sampson James, on Monday night. In the past few months, Sampson has moved up Ohio State’s recruiting board, and there’s no real question about it: James was Ohio State’s top target at halfback in 2019.
While some names like Trey Sanders, Noah Cain, Devyn Ford and Kenny McIntosh have been floated around, there’s not a back in the country that Ohio State is higher on than James, and for good reason. It’s very easy to see what Ohio State sees in Sampson James on his film. He’s got fantastic size at 6-foot-1, 211 pounds, and will likely get even bigger once he gets on campus.
Despite his larger frame, he’s still a very fast back, and he really fits to Ohio State mold of balanced, downhill runners that Ohio State loves so much. He doesn’t like to dance around the backfield, and spends his time locating and hitting a hole rather than trying to make a fancy play.
It’s a big comparison to make, and it’ll obviously take some development, but in terms of style, athleticism, and potential, Sampson James looks quite a bit like one of the best backs in school history: Ezekiel Elliott. He has excellent vision, just as Zeke does, and while neither his power or speed is on that level yet, it’s very easy to imagine him getting there with some work under coach Marotti.
This is a huge get for Ohio State, and while there’s a lot of time between now and December, I have no reason to think this one won’t stick. Ohio State wants to add at least one more running back to this class, and while I said in the Sampson James commitment piece that my pick was for Noah Cain, I’ve got a bolder pick for that second running back now: Northland star John Branham Jr.
Back to Florida
We talked quite a bit about Florida recruits in yesterday’s edition of State Secrets, but we’re heady back to the Sunshine State today, as SBNation’s excellent Bud Elliott released plenty of great tidbits on some Buckeye targets yesterday.
John Dunmore Jr: Dunmore Jr, one of the best receivers in the country, picked up an Ohio State offer back in February, and while they don’t lead as of right now, the Buckeyes are certainly in the running for the Hollywood, Fla., product.
“Out of Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna, the 6’3 receiver dominated again, just as he did the previous weekend at a seven-on-seven camp. Dunmore is the best receiver I have seen so far in Florida for the 2018 class. He consistently works to get a clean release, has strong hands, and has good deep speed. He can vary tempo to lull defenders. Dunmore uses space well and can sit down in voids in a zone. Dunmore earned an invite to the Under Armour All-America Game next winter in Orlando for his performance.”
Kaiir Elam: We talked specifically about Elam yesterday, and the North Palm Beach, Fla., cornerback should be a household name for Buckeye fans sooner rather than later. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he ends up in Columbus.
“Out of the Palm Beach Benjamin School, Elam is an elite talent. He is 6’1.5, 180 pounds, and has top-notch athleticism. That sets the ceiling for a cornerback.
But it’s his floor which also is so impressive. Many times, I’ve seen recruits at these camps give less than maximum effort during the positional drills, instead saving themselves for the 1v1 portion.
Not Elam. He went max effort on every rep I observed, actively looking to make himself better. Camp coaches who played in the NFL noticed as well, and combined with an elite performance in the 1v1 period, Elam earned an invite to the All-America Game, too.”
Don Cheney Jr: The running back from Miami doesn’t yet hold an Ohio State offer, though he should very soon, as he’s one of the nation’s best in the class of 2020.
Miami Belen Jesuit running back Don Cheney Jr. was one of the best backs on the day. He told SB Nation that Miami was his leader, and Ohio State was the top out-of-state threat to sign him, but he’s not ready to make a commitment just yet.
Jordan Battle: We talked about Battle yesterday as well, and the Fort Lauderdale safety seems to be more of an “when not if” kind of recruit right now, in terms of his possible commitment to Ohio State.
“Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas standout DB Jordan Battle just keeps getting better and better. The 6’2, 185-pounder came away with multiple interceptions on the day, earning an invite to the All-America Game in the process. Ohio State is in excellent position with Battle, who has a tremendous relationship with coach Larry Johnson, he said.
An intriguing thing about Battle is he has a lot of room to grow physically. I would project him to easily be over 210 pounds in college. If he can play safety at that size, he’ll be special. And even if he has to be a hybrid safety/linebacker, well, there is a lot of room for that as well with the proliferation of the spread in college football.”
- One of the biggest 2020 Buckeye targets, Paris Johnson Jr, announced his intentions to attend to the All-American bowl.
#AGTG Blessed to be officially committed to play in the 2020 All-American Bowl in San Antonio!! #East #AllAmerican pic.twitter.com/KOVqH3g23P— Paris Johnson Jr. (@ParisJohnsonJr) March 19, 2018