Every day until fall camp begins for Ohio State, we will profile a different Buckeye football player. Today that player is freshman running back Evan Pryor. Yesterday it was defensive end Tyler Friday. You can find all of the daily Scoop Profiles right here.
No. 21 | Running Back | 5-10 197 | Freshman | William Amos Hough High School | Cornelius, North Carolina
How’d He Get Here
Evan Pryor attended William Amos Hough High School in Cornelius, North Carolina where he was the No. 2 all-purpose back in the 2021 recruiting class and the No. 82 player nationally. Pryor signed with Ohio State over offers from Alabama, Oklahoma, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, USC, and Michigan among many others. The Buckeyes extended an offer to Pryor in February of 2019. Thirteen months later he took an unofficial visit to Alabama just before the NCAA shut down all visits. One week later, Pryor committed to the Buckeyes. Twelve days after that, LSU tried to throw their hat in the ring as well with an offer, but it didn’t work. The state of North Carolina postponed their 2020 high school football season until this spring, which means Pryor missed his senior year of football because he enrolled at Ohio State this past winter.
Evan Pryor got to Ohio State in the winter and immediately went to work in the weight room getting stronger and preparing for life as a Big Ten running back. He was one of six running backs who took part in spring ball for the Buckeyes, which made things extremely crowded. He spent his time repping with the twos and threes (there really are no fours, fives, or sixes), and got in as many reps as possible in such a congested room. If there was a depth chart put together today, he may be in the sixth spot because of his youth and size, but there are things he can do that maybe no other returning running backs can. Pryor impressed his coaches this spring with his overall skill set and now he’ll need to impress them with his work ethic this summer.
What to Like
Asked to describe his game, Evan Pryor says that he is a home-run hitter. Earlier this spring, fellow freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson said that he just needed to get hit once in order to shake off the rust of not having a high school football season last year. Pryor responded to that comment by saying he’s not trying to get hit at all. It’s not that he’s afraid of it, but his job after all is to avoid tacklers, so it makes perfect sense. Pryor is Ohio State’s smallest back, but it’s not like he’s a 185-pound scat back who can’t break a tackle. He is working on his strength, but already has the kind of explosion that coaches desire. Pryor is also a versatile receiver, which he showed in high school. As a junior he rushed for 1,130 yards and added 646 yards receiving. Could there be some Curtis Samuel too his game? Samuel was listed at 5-11 190 as a true freshman. When he was starring for the offense in 2016, he was listed at 197 pounds — which is exactly where Pryor is listed currently.
What’s the Ceiling This Year?
It is going to be very difficult for Evan Pryor to have more than a spot role in this offense. There are four running backs with more experience ahead of him, and that’s not including TreVeyon Henderson, who was the No. 1 running back in the 2021 class. All five of those guys will put a massive dent into the options for Pryor this year. But there are still things he can do, particularly in the passing game. Even then, however, Ohio State has enough receiving weapons that they don’t necessarily need to turn to a freshman running back to make a difference. It’s rare for a true freshman to make a mark at running back for the Buckeyes. JK Dobbins and Maurice Clarrett and Robert Smith are the exceptions, not the rules. That’s why there’s more than a decade between each of them. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 262 yards as a true freshman and Demario McCall rushed for 270 as a freshman. Miyan Williams carried the ball 10 times last year as a true freshman, but still made an impact in the playoffs against Clemson. It may not come immediately for Pryor and his mark may only be made in blowouts, but that’s perfectly normal. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Pryor redshirt this year but still get his four games of opportunity, just like Williams last year.
Evan Pryor doesn’t mind sharing carries, which was evident when he actively recruited TreVeyon Henderson to be part of Ohio State’s 2021 class. Ohio State head coach Ryan Day has said that they can see using Pryor as a complementary guy, as well as in the passing game. It will be determined down the road whether or not he can be an every-down back, but guys like Ezekiel Elliott and JK Dobbins were also labeled all-purpose backs and they certainly proved their worthiness as workhorses. Pryor’s attitude is going to lend itself to success, but so will his home-run hitting ability. It will be fun to watch Pryor and Henderson grow together and see what they can do as a one-two punch. And while a lot of people have their eyes on Henderson, don’t forget about that shifty all-purpose guy from North Carolina who prefers making guys miss.