June 23, 2016
Ohio State already has a verbal pledge from 4-star all-purpose back J.K. Dobbins—one of the crown jewels in its No. 2-ranked class—but pairing him with 5-star running back Cam Akers would give Urban Meyer the most lethal backfield duo in the 2017 recruiting cycle.
Akers, the one-time Alabama commit who reopened his recruitment on March 3, is the country’s No. 2-ranked running back and No. 16-ranked prospect regardless of position. The 5’11 ½”, 212-pound standout from Clinton, Mississippi, has one of the most impressive offer lists in the country, highlighted by Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss and Texas A&M.
Despite all the attention from those regional powerhouses, Akers is very warm to the idea of trekking north to spend his collegiate career at Ohio State.
That became apparent almost immediately after Akers blew his recruitment back open, when he made the trip for an unofficial visit to Columbus just four days after decommitting from Nick Saban and the Tide.
Meyer and the Buckeyes made a huge impression on the star ball-carrier, and they used the visit to become a major player in his pursuit.
“I definitely love Ohio State,” Akers said, according to Bill Kurelic of 247Sports. “My family and myself love Ohio State and what the [football] program is doing. They always produce good running backs.”
Ohio State’s history at running back is certainly rich—Archie Griffin remains the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner in college football history—but the position group has surged under Meyer. Since 2012, Ohio State’s starting running backs (Carlos Hyde, Ezekiel Elliott) have averaged more than 1,500 rushing yards per season.
Those numbers would catch the attention of any ball-carrier, but it’s more than Ohio State’s raw production that piqued Akers’ interest.
“They are always in the running for the national championship and the academics are great also,” Akers said, via Kurelic.
Akers is the exact kind of running back that has thrived under Meyer. He’s bullish, using his 212-pound frame to bulldoze defenders at the line of scrimmage, but he has the 4.4 speed that makes him nearly impossible to corral once he hits the second level.
That combination of power and speed is something Elliott used to run his way into the Ohio State history books (with back-to-back seasons eclipsing 1,800 rushing yards), proving to Akers that he could be perfectly utilized in Ohio State’s power-spread attack.
And that attack would be much more lethal when you factor Dobbins into the equation.
Rated the No. 3 all-purpose back nationally, Dobbins would be the perfect change of pace to Akers’ tough-nosed running style. Both have elite speed, but Dobbins has elite elusiveness and will be a nightmare for opposing defenses when he hits the perimeter on plays such as Ohio State’s jet sweep.
But Dobbins isn’t just a speed guy, either. He has the tools to line up in the backfield and attack the middle just like Akers.
“I can do more than just have speed,” Dobbins said, according to Ari Wasserman of Cleveland.com. “People think that’s what I’m about. But I can run through the middle, through the trenches, and I can pass-block, too. I am a three-down back. That’s what most people would like to say.”
Having that much playmaking ability at one position would give Ohio State’s future offense a lot of firepower, and that’s something Meyer and the coaching staff are working hard to make happen.
The Buckeyes have surged in Akers’ recruitment over the last three-and-a-half months, and now they only trail home-state Ole Miss as the favorite to land his commitment, per 247Sports’ Crystal Ball predictions.
Meyer is hoping to cover that ground next month, when Akers again makes the trip to Columbus to attend Ohio State’s marquee summer recruiting event—Friday Night Lights.
If that trip goes as well as the last one, the Buckeyes could quickly ascend to the top of Akers’ list, making a dream scenario for Meyer closer to a reality.
All recruiting information via 247Sports.
David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
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