Aldridge Has Strong Interest In Ohio State

James Aldridge is one of the top running back prospects in the Midwest. Ohio State already has one big back in its 2006 recruiting class, but wouldn't mind adding the 6-1, 215-pound Aldridge to the fold. Current OSU safety Nick Patterson is trying to help bring Aldridge to Columbus.

Nick Patterson, a redshirt freshman safety on Ohio State's football team, might help the Buckeyes land one of the top prospects in the Midwest.

Running back James Aldridge of Merrillville, Ind., was prep teammates with Patterson for two seasons in Missouri. Now living on the outskirts of Chicago, Aldridge says he is very interested in Ohio State.

"They're pretty high," he said. "I'm really liking Ohio State right now. Nick Patterson was my high school teammate and he is telling me some good things about Ohio State."

The 6-1, 215-pound Aldridge is also considering Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, and Purdue.

"Ohio State and Oklahoma State are at the top," he said.

Aldridge has scholarship offers from all of the schools that he is considering.

As a junior in 2004, Aldridge rushed for 2,067 yards and 20 touchdowns on 281 carries (7.4 yards per carry). He also caught 11 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns. Merrillville finished 11-2 and made it to the third round of the playoffs.

Aldridge attended Ohio State's Junior Day on Feb. 5.

When asked what stood out about the visit, he said: "Oh, the stadium. You cannot beat that stadium. Nick Patterson kind of showed me around the whole campus. It was a good time."

Patterson was hanging out with an old friend, but he was also giving a sales pitch.

"He says he loves it there," Aldridge said. "And I know he wouldn't steer me wrong; he's too good of a kid. I know he wouldn't steer me the wrong way. He thinks I should join him there."

Thanks to the recruitment of Patterson from Hazelwood (Mo.) Central, the Buckeyes have known about Aldridge for quite some time.

"They've been talking to me since I was a freshman," Aldridge said. "I played there for two seasons with Nick. Coach (Tim) Spencer who used to be up there at Ohio State as running backs coach, when I was a freshman, they used to come up and recruit Nick. That's how they started knowing about me. Ohio State has been with me a long time."

Aldridge moved to Merrillville prior to his junior season, but OSU stayed with him. Running backs coach Dick Tressel is recruiting Aldridge for OSU.

"Oh, Doc Tressel, he's a nice guy," Aldridge said. "He seems like a really cool person. That's who I've been keeping in touch with for the last few years."

Aldridge is not sure what football camps he will attend this summer.

"I don't know where I'm going yet, but I'm pretty sure I'll make it to Ohio State's," he said.

Aldridge could make a decision as early as this summer.

"I want to decide early because I'm graduating early," he said. "Either early football season, or before football season starts this year."

And players don't enroll in school early so they can redshirt.

"That's right," Aldridge said. "No way I want to redshirt. I'd like to play right away."

Patterson redshirted at OSU in 2004, but that was a different situation. He plays at a rather deep position at OSU and wasn't as physically developed as someone like Aldridge.

"Yeah, Nick said he was happy about that; he actually liked redshirting," Aldridge said. "But me and Nick were the same size when I was a sophomore and freshman, and he was getting ready to graduate. So, coming in, I'll be bigger, or the same size. I probably wouldn't need to redshirt."

Aldridge says he will probably put on five pounds or more before his college career begins.

"I'd probably play at 220, 220-something," he said.

Aldridge, who runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds, was asked to reveal his strengths and weaknesses.

"Nobody has really exposed any of my weaknesses yet," he said. "I don't really feel that I have any.

"As far as strengths, my combination of size and quickness is what everyone is raving about, I guess."

Ohio State already has one running back in the 2006 class: Akron Garfield standout Chris Wells.

Aldridge was asked for his take on OSU's depth chart situation at running back.

"I don't really know too much about who's there right now, but I know I'd be one of the bigger backs," he said. "I know they have a good back coming in next year, but there's competition everywhere."

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