PLAYERS TO WATCH RUNNING BACK

In the second part of his break down of the top players in the state. Craig Schwieterman looks at the running backs in the state. While this is not a total list is gives you some insight into the top and some names you may not have heard of.

 OhioPrepScene.com is proud to bring you the 2nd part of our "Players to Watch 2003" series. While the 1st section discusses some of the top Quarterbacks in the Buckeye State next year, this piece will break down some of the best College Prospects as well as several of the premier high school Running Backs for the upcoming season.

Last year, Ohioans saw guys like Brandon Murphy, Scooter McDougle, and Terrence Graves run all over the field. Those players have graduated and are headed off to begin a new path at the college level. Some familiar faces and some not-so familiar faces are ready to step into their shoes and catch the eye of some college teams. After Maurice Clarett shredded up opposing defenses in the Scarlet and Gray, every Prep Running Back is ready to follow suit.

We start again in the "hot bed" - Northeast Ohio. The Buckeyes picked up an early verbal from Junior Hubbard Eagles RB/DB/ATH Shaun Lane. Lane, a 5'11 180 standout has been clocked in the 4.45-4.5 range. Mr. Lane picked up over 2,000 yards carrying the mail last season while also playing on the defensive side of the ball at CB. He's blessed with great quickness and the ability to cut across the field. Shaun also has that special gift of great field vision. He sees plays develop before they actually happen. Look for him to put up some great numbers in the upcoming season. Shaun, a Division III 2nd Team pick, is the son of All-American OSU defensive back Garcia Lane.

Another guy who could be seen wearing the Scarlet and Gray next year is Warren Harding Raider Delbert Ferguson. Ferguson stepped into the national spotlight his freshman year when he ran for almost 2,000 yards for the Youngstown Ursuline Irish. He and former teammate Terrence Graves (Toledo) racked up almost 500 yards of rushing in the Division IV State Final vs. Coldwater. Delbert transferred to Warren Harding after his junior year. Rumor has it Ferguson is a close friend of Buckeye standout Maurice Clarett. Ferguson's style is very similar to that of Clarett's. Both have a great combination of speed (4.5) and power. While Maurice does have a slightly heavier frame (6'0 230 compared to Delbert's 6'2 220), their running styles are nearly identical. Delbert's 40 speed, not blazing fast, does not reflect his game speed. I saw a play on film where he took a pitch around the corner right end, made about 8 guys miss, then took it completely across the field for a 50 yard score. He's got the speed to turn the corner and the power to run between the tackles. While he might not put up the same numbers as last year (1700+ yards) due to the fact he could split some time next season, the Div IV 1st Teamer will still be a Top 3 Running Back out of Ohio. Iowa has offered already and many others will follow suit.

The player Delbert Ferguson might split time with is standout Richard Davis, also of Warren Harding. Davis piled up over 1,500 yards last season for the Raiders while helping them to a 14-1 State Runner Up season. The 6'0 190 junior could possibly see a move to the defensive side of the ball this upcoming year. He's got speed similar to Ferguson (4.5), but is more of a scat runner than Delbert. Wherever Davis ends up playing this year, watch out, he's a game breaker.

Anyone who's seen an Akron Buchtel game knows the team is loaded with talent. One of the most talented players on the ‘Griffs team is Junior Tailback Antonio Pittman. Pittman turned quite a few heads last year on the football field. Antonio rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and 30+ Touchdowns last season as the Griffs made it to the Regional Finals in Division III before falling in a heartbreaker to rival Akron Hoban. Pittman has average size (5'11 190) and great speed (4.4-4.5). He's got a lot coming back next year around him, expect Mr. Pittman to put up some unreal numbers and gather some interest from some college coaches. Antonio was a 2nd Team All-Ohio pick last year.

Not too far away from Pittman is Tyrell Sutton of Akron Hoban. Sutton, a sophomore this past season, has rushed for nearly 3,500 yards in his first two seasons. Last year, the 5'9 175 pounder rushed for almost 2,500 yards and 30+ touchdowns. Sutton has good lateral speed and can change directions very well. He sees the field well and usually makes at least one guy miss. Tyrell should come close to matching last year's success on the field this year as he hopes to bring his Hoban Knights back to the State Tournament. Sutton was a 2nd Team All-Ohio selection.

One of the quickest backs in the state hails from Division I football power Canton McKinley. New Bulldog Head Coach Brian Cross is blessed with having a great athlete in Sophomore Ryan Brinson. Brinson is unbelievably quick (4.43) and can break any play off for a quick score. Although a bit undersized (5'9 175), he runs the ball hard and has the ability to run between the tackles as well as the speed on the corners. Look for this 2nd Team Div I All-Stater to be one of the top backs in Northeast Ohio this year.

Last year Ben Mauk won Ohio's coveted Mr. Football award unanimously. What most people don't realize is that Ray Williams probably would have won it as a junior if Mauk wasn't around. Williams, a 6'0 185 pound back for the Cleveland Benedictine Bengals, racked up over 3,000 yards carrying the ball last year. He scored more points (180) than any junior in the state. He led the Bengals to an impressive 12-3 record and a berth in the Div III State Finals where they fell to a tough Columbus Watterson squad. Ray has a great combination of speed (4.47) and power. He does need to put some weight on to start getting the attention of some of the heavyweights, but he has already been offered by Iowa and Pitt. Williams should lead his Bengal squad deep in the playoffs this season again and put up some amazing numbers while bringing home the Mr. Football award.

Another big Mr. Football candidate is Doori Song, a 6'1 230 pound Back from Coshocton. Song finished high in last years voting and should again this year. Doori is very nimble for his size. He is a power runner that can still cut back across the field and make guys miss. The Div IV 1st Team All-Stater compiled almost 1,400 yards before blowing out his knee. Sources report that Mr. Song is nearly back to 100% and should make some more noise this season.  Song is being recruited as a fullback and linebacker.  He would prefer to play linebacker at the next level.

Our next featured back hails from one of the most storied programs in the country. Steubenville Big Red junior Nate Hubbard put up some head turning stats last year against some tough competition. The 5'9 175 pound Hubbard racked up nearly 1,900 yards rushing and 21 TDs averaging over 7 yards per attempt.

Anther standout back from central Ohio is Jr. Brandon Murphy, Scooter McDougle, and Terrence Graves run all over the field. Those players have graduated and are headed off to begin a new path at the college level. Some familiar faces and some not-so familiar faces are ready to step into their shoes and catch the eye of some college teams. After Maurice Clarett shredded up opposing defenses in the Scarlet and Gray, every Prep Running Back is ready to follow suit.

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We start again in the \"hot bed\" - Northeast Ohio. The Buckeyes picked up an early verbal from Junior Hubbard Eagles RB/DB/ATH Shaun Lane. Lane, a 5'11 180 standout has been clocked in the 4.45-4.5 range. Mr. Lane picked up over 2,000 yards carrying the mail last season while also playing on the defensive side of the ball at CB. He's blessed with great quickness and the ability to cut across the field. Shaun also has that special gift of great field vision. He sees plays develop before they actually happen. Look for him to put up some great numbers in the upcoming season. Shaun, a Division III 2nd Team pick, is the son of All-American OSU defensive back Garcia Lane.

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Another guy who could be seen wearing the Scarlet and Gray next year is Warren Harding Raider Delbert Ferguson. Ferguson stepped into the national spotlight his freshman year when he ran for almost 2,000 yards for the Youngstown Ursuline Irish. He and former teammate Terrence Graves (Toledo) racked up almost 500 yards of rushing in the Division IV State Final vs. Coldwater. Delbert transferred to Warren Harding after his junior year. Rumor has it Ferguson is a close friend of Buckeye standout Maurice Clarett. Ferguson's style is very similar to that of Clarett's. Both have a great combination of speed (4.5) and power. While Maurice does have a slightly heavier frame (6'0 230 compared to Delbert's 6'2 220), their running styles are nearly identical. Delbert's 40 speed, not blazing fast, does not reflect his game speed. I saw a play on film where he took a pitch around the corner right end, made about 8 guys miss, then took it completely across the field for a 50 yard score. He's got the speed to turn the corner and the power to run between the tackles. While he might not put up the same numbers as last year (1700+ yards) due to the fact he could split some time next season, the Div IV 1st Teamer will still be a Top 3 Running Back out of Ohio. Iowa has offered already and many others will follow suit.

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The player Delbert Ferguson might split time with is standout Richard Davis, also of Warren Harding. Davis piled up over 1,500 yards last season for the Raiders while helping them to a 14-1 State Runner Up season. The 6'0 190 junior could possibly see a move to the defensive side of the ball this upcoming year. He's got speed similar to Ferguson (4.5), but is more of a scat runner than Delbert. Wherever Davis ends up playing this year, watch out, he's a game breaker.

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Anyone who's seen an Akron Buchtel game knows the team is loaded with talent. One of the most talented players on the ‘Griffs team is Junior Tailback Antonio Pittman. Pittman turned quite a few heads last year on the football field. Antonio rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and 30+ Touchdowns last season as the Griffs made it to the Regional Finals in Division III before falling in a heartbreaker to rival Akron Hoban. Pittman has average size (5'11 190) and great speed (4.4-4.5). He's got a lot coming back next year around him, expect Mr. Pittman to put up some unreal numbers and gather some interest from some college coaches. Antonio was a 2nd Team All-Ohio pick last year.

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Not too far away from Pittman is Tyrell Sutton of Akron Hoban. Sutton, a sophomore this past season, has rushed for nearly 3,500 yards in his first two seasons. Last year, the 5'9 175 pounder rushed for almost 2,500 yards and 30+ touchdowns. Sutton has good lateral speed and can change directions very well. He sees the field well and usually makes at least one guy miss. Tyrell should come close to matching last year's success on the field this year as he hopes to bring his Hoban Knights back to the State Tournament. Sutton was a 2nd Team All-Ohio selection.

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One of the quickest backs in the state hails from Division I football power Canton McKinley. New Bulldog Head Coach Brian Cross is blessed with having a great athlete in Sophomore Ryan Brinson. Brinson is unbelievably quick (4.43) and can break any play off for a quick score. Although a bit undersized (5'9 175), he runs the ball hard and has the ability to run between the tackles as well as the speed on the corners. Look for this 2nd Team Div I All-Stater to be one of the top backs in Northeast Ohio this year.

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Last year Ben Mauk won Ohio's coveted Mr. Football award unanimously. What most people don't realize is that Ray Williams probably would have won it as a junior if Mauk wasn't around. Williams, a 6'0 185 pound back for the Cleveland Benedictine Bengals, racked up over 3,000 yards carrying the ball last year. He scored more points (180) than any junior in the state. He led the Bengals to an impressive 12-3 record and a berth in the Div III State Finals where they fell to a tough Columbus Watterson squad. Ray has a great combination of speed (4.47) and power. He does need to put some weight on to start getting the attention of some of the heavyweights, but he has already been offered by Iowa and Pitt. Williams should lead his Bengal squad deep in the playoffs this season again and put up some amazing numbers while bringing home the Mr. Football award.

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Another big Mr. Football candidate is Doori Song, a 6'1 230 pound Back from Coshocton. Song finished high in last years voting and should again this year. Doori is very nimble for his size. He is a power runner that can still cut back across the field and make guys miss. The Div IV 1st Team All-Stater compiled almost 1,400 yards before blowing out his knee. Sources report that Mr. Song is nearly back to 100% and should make some more noise this season.  Song is being recruited as a fullback and linebacker.  He would prefer to play linebacker at the next level.

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Our next featured back hails from one of the most storied programs in the country. Steubenville Big Red junior Nate Hubbard put up some head turning stats last year against some tough competition. The 5'9 175 pound Hubbard racked up nearly 1,900 yards rushing and 21 TDs averaging over 7 yards per attempt.

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Anther standout back from central Ohio is Jr.