A Tale Of Two Tailbacks

Ohio State is already off to a flying start in their attempt to build a strong recruiting class for 2012, with four solid prospects already committed. Included are two tailbacks that are both listed among the Top-100 prospects in America for the junior class, Warren Ball and Brionte Dunn (pictured). Bill Greene takes a look at how each player has fared so far this season.

It's hard to imagine one team being able to add two tailbacks with the ability of Brionte Dunn and Warren Ball, but that's exactly what Ohio State has done for the 2012 recruiting class. Both Dunn and Ball were early commits to the Buckeyes, and not only are they different in style, but they had very different seasons in 2010.

Brionte Dunn Canton GlenOak. Dunn, 6-foot-2, 210-pounds, has had an amazing junior season, and is proving to be a work-horse every single Friday night. Through nine games, Dunn has carried the football an amazing 322 times, an average of 36 carries per game. Even though he runs against defenses designed to stop the run and his team has no passing attack to speak of, Dunn still has accumulated 1,930 yards, or nearly six yards per carry.

Dunn opened eyes all across Ohio in the second week of the season when he trampled Massillon for over 300 yards rushing, and he hasn't been stopped yet. Last week, he set a school record by carrying the football 50 times in a win against North Canton Hoover, rushing for 275 yards.

A commitment to Ohio State occurred shortly after receiving the offer he coveted most of all, as the Buckeyes were sold after seeing the tape of his Massillon performance. Dunn is a pure power-running tailback, and even though he has the speed to take it long distance, his forte is running between the tackles. There will be comparisons made to Beanie Wells or Maurice Clarett, but Dunn has a style all his own, more along the lines of Eddie George than the previous two stars.

OHIO STATE OUTLOOK: Dunn proved during the Ohio State summer camp that he can catch the football, but to be truthful, he has a long way to go to be the type of blocker the Buckeyes will want. He has the size and toughness to succeed in that area, and he be a red-shirt candidate, so there will be a full year to learn that skill. There is no questioning his toughness or his desire to carry the football, and he should be a perfect fit for Ohio State's power running attack.

Warren Ball: Columbus DeSales. Ball, 6-foot-1, 205-pounds, has had the exact opposite type of season than Dunn. An ankle injury sidelined him in the third week of the season, causing him to sit out the next five games. As a sophomore, Dunn played throughout a painful groin injury, which limited his explosion and burst.

Prior to last week's game against powerful Cincinnati LaSalle, Ball had only gained 361 yards on 54 carries, scoring seven touchdowns. The explosion and burst had reappeared and he was on his way to a fine junior season, before the ankle injury ruined those hopes.

Ball returned to action last week against LaSalle, one of the top teams in the state, and early on he was once again the player everyone hoped to see. In the first half, he had 140 yards on 14 carries, and scored two touchdowns. But early in the second half, Ball rolled his ankle again and sat out the rest of the game. His speed and cutting ability were impressive in the first half, and his availability for this week's game is uncertain.

OHIO STATE OUTLOOK: It's hard to imagine Ball will be needed to contribute as a freshman, with Jordan Hall, Jaamal Berry, Carlos Hyde and Roderick Smith all expected to be ahead of him. But Ball is a more complete player than Dunn, and is closer to being ready to play as a true freshman. Watching him catch the football like a skilled wide receiver at Ohio State's camp answered that question affirmatively. As a sophomore, he was a very accomplished blocker in the DeSales Wing-T attack.

DeSales will be playing Cleveland Benedictine (2-7) this week. A win should be enough to put them in the playoffs, possibly a rematch with Columbus Watterson. Watterson defeated DeSales 31-7 two weeks ago.

Canton GlenOak (4-5) will miss the playoffs this year, and will finish their season this Friday against Massillon Perry.

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