Ohio State’s running back position has been a wild ride in 2022 to say the least. A number of guys have taken snaps, and with the statuses of players such as Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson changing every other week due to various health reasons, it’s been hard to keep track of the situation in Tony Alford’s room. Not due to a shortage of talent, it’s been one thing after another this year, and the feelings of what’s unknown is really what’s caused uneasiness at times.
Moving to the recruiting front, the 2023 class has been just as up and down at the position. Wanting a running back in every cycle, the Buckeyes haven’t yet signed a player they’ve offered after losing the commitment of Mark Fletcher. Sure, there’s time until February and certain names have been tossed around, but the safe assumption here is leaning toward Ohio State not landing a scholarship player at the spot for this 2023 class. Thankfully, there’s a lot of solid depth already in Columbus that can soften that blow until the 2024 cycle comes around.
Notice too how the key phrase “scholarship” RB was stated earlier, because the Buckeyes are not going totally empty handed when it comes to that spot in the 2023 class. Committing to Ohio State this past weekend, Ohio native Willtrell Hartson (Massillon, Ohio/Massillon Washington) made his future plans known on Christmas Eve via Twitter.
I’m 100% committed I’m staying home can’t wait to be apart of the brotherhood. @CoachTonyAlford @ryandaytime @OhioStateFB ⭕️#gobucks pic.twitter.com/ydUdmvJSlO— Willtrell Hartson (@x_trell4) December 24, 2022
Accepting a preferred walk-on spot, we can take a closer look at who the Buckeyes are getting. In recent history, walk-on players have made their impact on Ohio State’s roster. Guys such as TC Caffey and even Xavier Johnson — who has also spent some time at running back for the Buckeyes — are names that aren’t unknown to fans this season, and certainly with the accolades Hartson is bringing to Columbus, it’s probably just a matter of time before he too receives some attention.
First and foremost, it should be mentioned that Hartson does have double-digit offers that he turned down in order to come to Ohio State. That alone is a major deal considering the price of tuition anywhere these days. Schools such as Buffalo, Boston College, Toledo, Miami (OH), Army, Central Michigan, Temple, and more are on his list of schools he decided against. Additionally, Willtrell is a three-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite rankings for the 2023 class. This isn’t your average walk-on football player.
Hartson playing his prep ball at Massillon Washington shows the caliber of back he is and the reason for that three-star status. A storied program in their own right, Willtrell has etched his name into the record book throughout his career, and his 2,073 yards rushing this year alone places him No. 1 all-time in Massillon history for yards in a season. Add in his 34 touchdowns this fall, and you can see why a number of division one programs came calling with offers in-hand.
The 5-foot-9, 200 pound back is betting on himself, and that is to be not only commended, but also respected. Turning down any offer to accept a preferred walk-on role is out of the ordinary, but the Buckeyes are happy to keep the in-state prospect at home for the next few years. It’s to be determined what will really go on with the 2023 running back spot, but if the Buckeyes keep pace and don’t sign an offered player at the spot, it makes it that much easier for Hartson to make an impact once he’s on campus.
A player that at least seems to be this determined, I am going with my gut and saying this is a name that will be heard more than just a few times in the years to come. Personally, it’s refreshing to see a young man with a dream of playing for Ohio State shoot his shot and do just that, especially for what he’s turning down in order to do so.