As the 2014 recruiting class comes into focus, BuckeyeNation will take a position-by-position look at the juniors.
Today, we examine the running back position. Though it’s a position of strength for Ohio State with junior Parris Campbell Jr. (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary) committing on Feb. 10, the Buckeyes are always looking to upgrade.
In the Class of 2013, Ohio State took just one running back – Ezekiel Elliott (St. Louis/John Burroughs) -- though with Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde out of eligibility after the season, the Buckeyes could take two in the Class of 2014.
Here are the top five running backs of 2014 not committed somewhere else and with an offer from Ohio State. All five are ESPN Watch List selections.
1. Curtis Samuel (Brooklyn, N.Y./Erasmus)
Offers: Boston College, Connecticut, Florida, Miami (Fla.), Ohio State, Rutgers, Syracuse, Tennessee, USC, Virginia
Outlook: The 6-foot, 185-pound Samuel is being recruited as an athlete, but appears to have Ohio State and Rutgers at the top of his list. The Buckeyes need to get the 1,000-yard rusher, who also scored 15 touchdowns last season, on campus soon.
2. Jonathan Hilliman (Jersey City, N.J./St. Peter’s)
Offers: Alabama, Arkansas, Boston College, Cincinnati, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette, Maryland, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Stanford, Tennessee, UCF, Vanderbilt, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Outlook: The 6-1, 202-pound Hilliman put the Buckeyes in his top 10 along with Alabama, Arkansas, Boston College, Georgia, Michigan, Oregon, Rutgers, Stanford and Vanderbilt. He has indicated he will definitely make trips to Ohio State and Michigan.
3. Joe Mixon (Oakley, Cal./Freedom)
Offers: Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Boise State, California, Cincinnati, Clemson, Colorado, Florida, Florida State, Fresno State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Houston, Idaho, Louisville, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Mississippi State, Nevada, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Oregon State, San Diego State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UCLA, USC, Utah State, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Washington, Washington State, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Outlook: The 6-1, 200-pound Mixon is pretty much getting an offer a day it seems. While the ESPN 150 junior is high on the Buckeyes, he’s waiting on offers from Alabama, LSU and Oregon. It’ll be a fight to nab him.
4. Christian McCaffrey (Highlands Ranch, Colo./Valor Christian)
Offers: Arizona State, Boise State, Colorado, Colorado State, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Oregon State, Penn State, Stanford, UCLA, Utah, Vanderbilt, Washington, Wisconsin
Outlook: The 6-foot, 195-pound McCaffrey is the all-purpose back the Buckeyes are looking for. Like anyone out West, they’ll need to get the athlete on campus. His brother currently plays for Duke and his family has a lineage with the Blue Devils.
5. Elijah Hood (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Catholic)
Offers: Clemson, Duke, East Carolina, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette, Michigan, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Purdue, South Carolina, Stanford, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
Outlook: The 6-foot, 209-pound Hood originally had Notre Dame, Michigan and Ohio State in his top three, but is now reconsidering his top three. This one now appears to be a tougher get than originally thought.