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Five-star 2021 running back Will Shipley set for Ohio State-Wisconsin visit

Does Ohio State even need a running back in the 2020 cycle?

Matt Tamanini Matt Tamanini is the co-managing editor of Land-Grant Holy Land having joined the site in 2016.

Running back recruiting has been quite the contentious topic of discussion for the Ohio State Buckeyes over the last few months. After a pair of blue-chip prospects (five-star Bijan Robinson and four-star Kendall Milton) decided to go elsewhere, despite having been considered practically locks for Ohio State, there was a certain level of existential dread percolating amongst Buckeye Nation.

Despite the reassurances of RB coach Tony Alford that, “We’ll be fine,” the level of concern continued to rise during the preseason and into the first few weeks of play. However, then something strange happened, J.K. Dobbins started to look like he could be the best back in the country, and Master Teague III grabbed OSU’s backup job and showed that he could very well be the answer longterm at the position. Additionally, while it’s only been in limited action, true freshmen Marcus Crowley and Steele Chambers have impressed.

Due to the on-field production from the current players at the position, the desperation felt about the players that will eventually take over at the position has waned. Now, even though it is a distinct possibility — if not all-out inevitability — that Dobbins will declare for the NFL Draft, the pressure to reach and find an RB, any RB, to join the 2020 class has dramatically dissipated because of the play of the younger backs already on the roster. Also remember that even though it feels like he has been waiting his turn since Bobby Hoying was OSU’s quarterback, Demario McCall will likely be back for the Buckeyes in 2020.

So, while it is still quite possible that OSU could add a back this cycle, it no longer feels like they have to. With that in mind, the Buckeyes will welcome five-star, 2021 all-purpose back Will Shipley to campus for an unofficial visit during the top-15 match-up against the Wisconsin Badgers this Saturday.

Shipley is a 5-foot-11, 198 pound back from Matthews, N.C. He is currently ranked as the 21st-best player in the country in his cycle and the best APB, according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings.

In an article yesterday, Lettermen Row’s Jeremy Birmingham noted that while many other programs see Shipley as a slot receiver, the fact that the Buckeyes consider him to be a running back is a major selling point, as that is where Shipley sees himself playing.

OSU’s primary recruiter for the Tar Heel state’s second-rated player has been Brian Hartline, but he is also regularly in touch with Alford and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. So far this fall, Shipley has also visited NC State, North Carolina, and Notre Dame.

Also on campus this weekend will be three-star running back Miyan Williams who is currently committed to Matt Campbell’s Iowa State Cyclones. However, the senior from Winton Woods in Cincinnati has been trending towards Ohio State as other options have fallen by the wayside.

Williams picked up an offer from the Buckeyes on Sept. 21, and being an Ohio native, one would imagine that there is a distinct possibility that if Williams is given the green light on a committable offer, he would flip from the Cyclones.

However, with a stable of young, talented running backs proving their worth this fall, and a highly-touted 2021 back on campus this weekend, would it possibly be more prudent for the Buckeyes to use the scholarship(s) that had previously been designated for RBs to address other needs? I think it might be.

Only time will tell if Ohio State takes a running back as part of its 2020 recruiting class, but the production provided by the three freshmen already on the team has certainly given the OSU coaching staff some additional leeway in making that decision.

Check out a breakdown of Shipley’s highlights from the Opening Regional earlier this year:


Should Ohio State take a running back in the 2020 class?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Yes, it’s a brutal position, so you need depth.
    (75 votes)
  • 57%
    Yes, but only if it is a top-tier, blue-chip player. Otherwise, hold off.
    (322 votes)
  • 29%
    No, the best have already moved on. Focus on who you have now and look to 2021.
    (166 votes)
563 votes total Vote Now