It would seem that senior Lydell Ross will get the first call. But the Buckeyes will have no fewer than four other options, including senior Maurice Hall, sophomore Ira Guilford and incoming freshmen Antonio Pittman and Erik Haw. Pittman may get a chance to prove himself this spring by enrolling at OSU in March.
Haw, a product of Columbus Independence, must bide his time, however. He will continue with school and run track this spring, participate in two all-star games this summer and then join the Buckeyes for preseason camp in August.
"I just want to come in and get some carries," Haw said of his goals as a freshman. "Then, as I get to know the system, I'd love a chance to start. I know they have some great backs up there and I will have to put in the work."
The 6-1, 218-pound Haw was a finalist for the Ohio Mr. Football award after rushing for 3,030 yards and scoring 29 touchdowns over his team's 10-game regular season and three playoff games. He ended up averaging over 8 yards a carry. He earned co-Ohio Associated Press state offensive player of the year honors in Division II.
As a junior, Haw rushed for 1,271 yards and scored 14 touchdowns.
"I'm a real social person," Haw said. "Communication is the key. I like the camaraderie with my teammates. That helps when you're on the field, definitely, because you know that person is going to bleed for you and die for you."
Haw turned 40-yard times of 4.21 and 4.28 seconds at the OSU camp last summer. He was immediately offered and accepted on July 3. He was also interested in Michigan.
"The (OSU coaches) knew of me, but I think that 40 time grabbed their attention," Haw said. "In the process, they wanted to look at my footwork and how I run pass routes. They said I ran good pass routes out of the backfield."
Haw's speed is somewhat of a misnomer, as he showed the ability to run between the tackles all season long.
"Our team ran guard/tackle," he said. "That was our bread and butter. One game -- it may have been against Beechcroft and (OSU signee) Sirjo Welch -- we ran `22' inside four straight times. I feel more comfortable going through guard and tackle holes."
During his time at Independence, Haw and his 76ers teammates developed a rivalry with nearby Walnut Ridge, which featured Minnesota signee Gary Russell. In fact, Independence avenged a 2002 loss to Ridge by defeating Ridge in the regular season finale and a week later in the playoffs.
"He's a real great player," Haw said of Russell. "It might be a rivalry. He's going to Minnesota and I congratulate him on that."
Haw was ranked as Ohio's fourth-best prospect by Ohio High. He is ranked as the nation's 11th-best running back by SuperPrep and No. 18 nationally at the position by ESPN.com's Tom Lemming.
He will play in the Ohio All-Star Classic June 19 at Columbus Crew Stadium and also in the Big 33 Football Classic in July. In both games, he will play alongside several future OSU teammates.
"We'll definitely develop some chemistry that we will have as we go into camp," he said. "I'll get to know them and they'll get to know me. This will help us develop that chemistry."
He holds a 3.0 GPA and scored a 17 on the ACT. He is also a strong track athlete, specializing in the sprint events and sprint relays.
Haw said he was happy to finally have his college future settled in writing.
"It was a roller coaster ride," he said. "There was a lot of excitement in the air. Three people (at Independence) were signing that day. I was just ready to get it all over with and get to work.
"Ohio State has been a very strong program throughout the country and throughout the years. They were very honest. I respect that."