Ohio State Football: Running Back Prospect Jaamal Berry Verbally Commits

Cody BlubaughAnalyst IAugust 31, 2008

Ohio State fans needed a bit of good news to pick them up after the scare with injured running back Chris "Beanie" Wells.  They got it in a big way when one of the top running backs in the nation, Jaamal Berry, verbally committed to the Buckeyes Sunday morning.

The writing may have been on the wall long before today, but a 20-hour drive to see Ohio State take on Youngstown State on his own accord pretty much tipped his hand.  He delivered the news to Coach Tressel and his mother after a campus and facility tour, adding to the pleasure of a season opening win.

With Berry now added to the 2009 recruiting class, the tally has now reached 25 players, the maximum allotment in any given recruiting year.  Several of the verbals plan to rectify that problem by enrolling early and counting towards the 2008 class, meaning the only 'number' to be worried about is the overall 85 man roster.

Jaamal will join fellow Floridian and running back Carlos Hyde to give the Buckeye's a combination of thunder and lighting.  At 5'11' and 185 lbs., there were questions on whether or not he would be speedy enough to make up for his lack of size.  All of those doubts were erased when he ripped off a 4.31 40-yard dash at a Florida combine. 

Don't let his size fool you though, as Jaamal does not stray away from contact.  Berry is said to have great upper body strength, combined with a low center of gravity, which allows him to fight off would be tacklers to gain extra yards.  He is often described as "very physical", which is why the speed concerns were cast upon him.  To cap it all off, he has the ability to get out in the receiving game with a set of soft hands.

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As aforementioned, Berry is considered to be one of the top players in Florida, which speaks volumes as to how good he is given the top notch prospects coming out of the state of Florida.  In 2007, Berry ran for 1,033 yards on 140 carries, equating out just a shade below 7.4 yards per carry.  He finished with 14 touchdowns, and added in 5 receptions for 30 yards.

There have been rumors of grade issues with Jaamal, which have many concerned if Berry will be academically eligible to play at Ohio State.  The coaching staff has been recruiting him hard, signifying that this is a non-issue, and that they feel Berry will fine academically.  Berry has stated himself that he is working hard to bring up his grades, and wants to submit a sufficient ACT score.

Jaamal Berry expressed his excitement to have the opportunity to play beside the phenom quarterback Terrelle Pryor, as well as be a part of an offense that seems to fit him well.  Berry also stated that Ohio State is where he is most comfortable, and that the coaching staff has made quite the impression on him.

With Berry now on board, the Buckeyes will turn their focus on a handful of players to round out their class.  Those targets include:

  • Marcus Hall,five-star offensive lineman, Cleveland, Ohio.  Ohio State is competing with LSU, as well as USC if they extend an offer.
  • Frankie Telfort, four-star linebacker/safety, Miami, Florida.  Ohio State is competing with USC, Stanford, Florida, Notre Dame, and Tennessee.
  • Corey Adams, five-star defensive tackle, Scottsdale, Arizona.  Ohio State is competing with Arizona State, as well as USC.
  • Marlon Brown, five-star wide receiver, Memphis, Tennessee.  Ohio State is competing with USC, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and LSU.

There are also a few select others who are being targeted, but are considered longshots such as wide receiver prospects Shaquelle Evans, and Andre Debose, and tight end prospects Dion Sims and Ra'shede Hageman.  Look for other prospects who are off the radar to pick up steam as signing day approaches.

To see what other recruits have already joined the 2009 class, you can find that information in my write-ups here and here.