ND, OSU Commits Meet On The Same Side

Running back James Aldridge of Merrillville, Indiana was being highly recruited by Ohio State at one point in time, but the elite back decided to end his recruitment early by committing to Notre Dame. Since then, Aldridge has had a chance to play with two Ohio State commitments as he was a high school teammate of defensive tackle Dexter Larimore and is now an All-American teammate of running back Chris Wells. What does Aldridge think of the two future Buckeyes?

With Chris Wells playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Ohio State fans might not really care much about what any other running back on the roster did or said for that matter.

But it's a bit different when the other running back in this instance is James Aldridge from Merrillville High School in Merrillville, Ind. He's a high school teammate of Dexter Larimore, the defensive lineman who verbally committed to Ohio State in December.

Aldridge had nothing but positive things to say about Larimore both on the field and off when he was asked about him.

"He's the kind of guy that can give you 15 tackles (in a game) at the defensive line spot. He's just something special," Aldridge said. "He's a serious player. A lot of Indiana players are underrated -- in my case, I guess I wasn't -- but Dexter is just as high-caliber as any other guy. He's a great athlete."

Not only is Larimore a pretty good football player, but he's a really good wrestler as well.

"He's the number one heavyweight wrestler in the country, so that speaks for itself," Aldridge said. "He's a soft spoken guy, but his actions speak really loud. Right now, he kind of slimmed down because of the wrestling season but he'll put the weight back on fast."

Just like he was with Larimore, Aldridge is now excited about being a teammate of Wells, another Ohio State recruit. He actually attended a junior day at Ohio State with Wells last winter and he was impressed with him then just as he is now.

"He just has a ton of talent and I have the same impression of him from when I first met him," Aldridge said. "He's just a good guy and I'm always up for being friends with a good guy."

And just like any good friend would, Aldridge has been trying to help Wells adapt to the spread offense the East will operate out of for the most part during the game.

"I ran the exact same offense at my high school, so I've adjusted to it real fast," Aldridge said. "Whenever (Wells) has any problems with anything, I just tell him to come back to me because I've ran the offense before, obviously. But he's adjusting to it. He's a pure athlete and athletes just adjust to things like that pretty well."

Aldridge seems to have a whole lot going for him. In addition to being a stellar high school running back in his senior year at Merrillville, he was a top defensive player in his junior year in St. Louis, Missouri before he transferred to the Hoosier state.

"Actually, when I moved from Missouri I was the number one strong safety in the state," Aldridge said. "But when I came up to Indiana I was just used primarily at running back."

And Aldridge, at 6-0 ½ and 212 pounds, along with Wells and C.J. Spiller, give the East a potent stable of running backs that all have the ability to bolster the ground attack for their offense in some way when they're in the game.

"It's cool because it's always good to be surrounded by other talent obviously," he said. "You just have to adjust to the speed of the game and, once you adjust, you're able to show your talent just like you do in high school."

He's certainly hoping to make a big play or two in the game.

"If it happens, it happens," said Aldridge who rushed for over 1,600 yards and had 22 touchdowns. "As a running back when you see a seam, obviously, you want to hit it pretty fast. So plays are going to come."

Aldridge would love to hit a few seams for the Fighting Irish when he plays for Notre Dame in the fall. He said it was an easy decision for him to select Notre Dame.

"I just figured that Notre Dame was the right decision for me," he said. "I asked myself where would I want to get my degree if I didn't play football and, not knocking any other education program, but a Notre Dame degree holds a lot of weight."

Of course, Larimore got on him hard after the Ohio State victory over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.

"You kind of expected it. But it was a good game," Aldridge said. "Hopefully we will meet up again in another bowl game."

In the meantime, he expects Larimore, and Wells for that matter, will become a great player at Ohio State, just like he was at Merrillville.

"Indiana guys sneak up on a lot of people," Aldridge said. "I'm a St. Louis guy because I just moved to Indiana last year, but he's going to sneak up on a lot of people. Obviously a lot of people might not know about him but he makes a lot of plays."

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