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Ohio State makes a move for elite RB who will decide soon
Ohio State had a loaded list of visitors on campus in recent days, but few were as important for the Buckeyes as North Stafford (Va.) running back Devyn Ford. He is ranked as the No. 6 running back in 2019 and No. 73 prospect overall in the class on the 247Sports composite. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound prospect decides on May 18, just under six weeks away, and took an unofficial visit to Ohio State on Thursday and Friday.
“I can see myself at Ohio State,” Ford told Land of 10 following the visit. “The main theme at Ohio State is that if you want to come here, you have to want to be great. That’s how they roll and that’s how Ohio State is. I got that from the players, the strength coach, from Coach [Tony] Alford, from Coach [Urban] Meyer. I got that from everyone’s demeanor around the football programs and I could see it for myself too.”
Ohio State is one of three finalists for Ford, whose decision will come down to the Buckeyes, Penn State Nittany Lions and Virginia Tech Hokies. Although he’d been to Columbus for previous visits, most recently for the Penn State game in October, Ford’s visit to campus this time was about getting a more comprehensive picture of a student-athlete’s life around Ohio State.
“I got to tour around the campus, got to see the library and the education center and got to see what campus was like on a regular day. That was cool. We got to see the dorms,” Ford explained. “Those were pretty nice. We went to the practice, watched that, went to some meetings with the coaches and players and got to see what they do in there.
“We went through a little academic presentation, they just explained the requirements to be on the football team — academic-wise with going to class and going to tutoring. But they also explained how you got more privileges for doing the right things.”
One of the highlights of the visit for Ford was seeing the preparations and practice habits of Alford, the Ohio State running backs coach, and the players in his room. Ford spent time with Alford and the Buckeyes backs, including J.K. Dobbins, Mike Weber and Antonio Williams.
“Meeting with the coaches was nice. Meeting with Coach Alford and talking with him was great. I was in meetings with the players, too, and they were talking about going to practices and the day-to-day stuff,” Ford said. “I liked how [Alford] was very detailed and went through everything but was also short and sweet with it. He made sure you got the point. It was really good seeing the detail and how much time he puts into every individual play to make sure it’s right.”
Over the next few weekends, Ford will take three official visits to each of his finalists. On the weekend of April 13, Ford will travel to Virginia Tech. Penn State will receive an official on April 20 and Ohio State the weekend after that on April 27. After these visits, the Virginia running back will announce a commitment at a ceremony at his high school on May 18.
Ford insists that each of his three finalists are close to one another at the top of his list going into the final stretch of official visits.
“Everybody is pretty high and everybody is pretty even,” he said. “There’s not a wrong choice in the schools that I’m choosing between. It’s going to be which one is going to benefit me more and which one is going to set me right in life to achieve the things that I want to achieve.”
The objective for Ford moving forward is to focus on the personal aspect of his recruitment. He’s been to Penn State, Virginia Tech and Ohio State several times each. Each program offers a chance to contend for titles, matriculate to the professional ranks and provide him an excellent education, but Ford nonetheless will have to separate one program from the bunch.
“I’ve pretty much seen it all. Right now, it’s just building relationships with coaches, seeing what I can take from offensive schemes and seeing which one is going to benefit me more in the future. It’s kind of hard knowing what it will be like until you actually get there, so it’s kind of like a blind date,” Ford laughed.
He continued explaining the process of his decision and what he’ll consider going forward.
“Most important to me is what can a school do for me so that I can be set for the next 40 years of my life after college football or after the NFL, if I choose to play in it,” Ford said. “What school can prepare me the best to play? And which can prepare me the best to benefit me for the future and to make sure I have a job and degree?”
Although Ohio State already has a commitment from Sampson James, a 4-star running back from Avon (Ind.) and the No. 8 prospect at the position, that’s done nothing to slow the pursuit of Ford. A Buckeyes source confirmed that they would happily take a commitment from Ford should he want to commit. Other top running back targets include Floridians Noah Cain (No. 2 RB) and Kenny McIntosh (No. 7 RB).
4-star Florida teammates high on Ohio State
Two other important visitors to Ohio State over the weekend were 4-star teammates Rian Davis and Tyler Davis (no relation) of Apopka (Fla.) Wekiva. Rian is a 6-2, 233-pound linebacker, ranked as the No. 17 outside linebacker and No. 258 prospect overall in the 2019 class. Tyler, a 6-1, 293-pound defensive tackle, is the No. 18 player at his position and No. 270 prospect overall in 2019.
While Tyler had previously been to Ohio State, visiting twice in 2017 for a summer camp and a game in the fall, this was the first trip for Rian.
“It was great, even more than I expected. I just didn’t expect it to be that nice. I got to talk to [linebackers coach Billy Davis] and Coach Meyer and I got to go around campus and see some of the dorms and watch them practice,” Rian told Land of 10. “The meetings with the coaches all went really good. What stood out to me most was how good they are at getting their players jobs if football doesn’t work out.”
Some of the most prominent offers for Rian include Ohio State, Clemson, Georgia, Alabama and Miami. The Buckeyes worked to impress him during the visit with what they can offer to players beyond football.
“They’re high on my list. Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama and Louisville are some of my top schools right now,” Rian said.
His teammate, Tyler, had similar feelings about his return trip to Columbus. Although the defensive tackle was familiar with many of the sights around campus, it was still a positive experience for the 4-star recruit.
“The visit and all of my meetings with Ohio State’s coaches were great,” Tyler said. “They talked about me playing [the 3-technique defensive tackle position] and how they could prepare me for life after football. I also got to see their practice for the first time.”
In general, Ohio State has not aggressively pursued many defensive tackles in this 2019 class. It’s not clear if the Buckeyes will take a player at the position, but Tyler is one of the most likely options. Two other recent visitors to campus — Hawaii 5-star defensive tackle Faatui Tuitele and Virginia 4-star defensive tackle Hakeem Beamon — are among the likeliest options as well, along with Cincinnati Walnut Hills product Jowon Briggs, an offered Ohio native.
The good news for Buckeyes fans is that the interest between the Buckeyes and this Florida native is certainly mutual. Ohio State is in the top group among Tyler’s offers.
“Ohio State is very high on my list. Clemson, Miami and Texas A&M are up there, too,” Tyler told Land of 10.
Both Davises confirmed that they don’t currently have any more planned visits planned. They were at the Miami Hurricanes junior day on March 24.
More on the way
In addition to these teammates and Ford, Ohio State had several other prominent visitors on campus over the weekend. Check in for Land of 10 updates with many of these visitors over the coming days and weeks. Unless otherwise noted, all of these prospects have an Ohio State offer:
- 5-star 2019 Hawaii defensive tackle Faatui Tuitele
- 5-star 2019 Virginia linebacker Brandon Smith
- 4-star 2019 Florida wide receiver John Dunmore
- 4-star 2019 Tennessee wide receiver Trey Knox
- 4-star 2019 California tight end Isaiah Foskey
- 3-star 2019 Indiana wide receiver Craig Young
- 3-star 2019 Kentucky athlete Wandale Robinson (no offer)
- 4-star 2020 Ohio linebacker Deamonte Trayanum
- 2020 Maryland defensive end Demon Clowney (no offer)
- 2021 Ohio athlete Jack Sawyer
On Sunday and Monday, Ohio State will also receive visits from 2019 wide receiver Jameson Williams and 2020 tight end Michael Mayer. Williams is a 4-star recruit from the St. Louis area who has Ohio State in his top-8 schools. The Buckeyes are considered the favorite for his services. Mayer has not been offered by Ohio State, but the 6-5 tight end from Alexandria (Ky.) Covington Catholic is considered one of the top tight ends nationally in 2020.
Over the weekend, Ohio State also extended two new offers to freshman prospects. The aforementioned Jack Sawyer, a 2021 athlete out of Columbus suburb Pickerington (Ohio) North, became the first in-state player in his class to land a Buckeyes offer. He is a 6-5, 200-pound phenom. Expect a Monday update on Sawyer, who also holds offers from Penn State, Michigan and other programs.
Belleville (Mich.) freshman Damon Payne, a 6-4, 255-pound defensive lineman, added Ohio State to what is already one of the country’s best offer lists. Michigan, Michigan State, Alabama, Georgia, Penn State and other elite programs have offered Payne already. He’s the teammate of 2019 Ohio State targets Devontae Dobbs, a 5-star tackle, and Julian Barnett, a 4-star CB.
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