It’s safe to say the state of Ohio doesn’t evoke many upbeat thoughts in the minds of the Maize and Blue faithful. The existence of Ohio State alone has many Michigan fans calling the Buckeye State “The Worst State Ever.” But is there actually nothing for them to like about Michigan’s neighbor to the south?
The Wolverines’ two most recent Heisman winners, Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson, were born in Ohio. The same is also true for Bo Schembechler, the winningest coach in program history, as was current head coach Jim Harbaugh. Ohio has been central to Michigan’s status as one of the sport’s most illustrious programs. This is why the commitment of Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller star running back Jordan Marshall to Michigan’s 2024 recruiting class is so fascinating — and encouraging.
History doesn’t necessarily repeat itself, but it does rhyme. Could Marshall’s commitment auger a new era in which the Wolverines firmly implement Ohio into its blueprint for success?
Ohio State fans choose to ignore the fact Marshall was one of the Buckeyes’ top running back targets before he committed to the Michigan Wolverines in March. Prior to his commitment, Michigan had not won a head-to-head recruiting matchup with Ohio State over a Buckeye State player in at least a decade. And with his entry into the fold, the Wolverines subsequently went on a tear on the recruiting trail, securing a claim to the top spot in the 2024 recruiting class rankings for several weeks.
Shifty and physical, fleet and powerfulful: Marshall possesses nearly every conceivable trait you would want in a running back. Whereas many high school tailbacks make a name for themselves by blowing past the competition with their quickness, he not only can run past defenders, but he can also run through, over and around them better than just about every other ball carrier in the class.
This bespeaks the most valuable of all his enviable skills: his vision. His highlight reel is chock full of instances where he consummately diagnoses a defense, explodes through the blocking scheme and flat-out embarrasses defenders as he dodges tackler after tackler. It’s no wonder he currently resides among the top-100 overall prospects in the 2024 class, and why Ohio State wanted him so badly.
Fittingly, the 2022 Mr. Ohio is a Michigan Man.
The outlook for his senior season is promising. Provided he can replicate the 30-touchdown, 2,000-plus all-purpose-yard campaign he had in his junior year, he might be in consideration for a sizeable bump in the rankings. He could even make the case to be the best back in the class if things go well. Once he suits up for the Wolverines, he will immediately mesh with running backs coach Mike Hart’s emphasis on hardnosed and explosive running, and is set to be a key piece in Michigan’s run-first offense.
As hinted earlier, Marshall’s most impactful contribution to the Wolverines in the short term could be what transpires on the recruiting trail in his class. Rated as the third-best recruit from Ohio in the 2024 class, he has actively recruited other top talents from his home state on behalf of the Wolverines. His relationship and budding friendship with four-star cornerback — and by some metrics, the best prospect in Ohio — Aaron Scott has many believing Michigan has a competitive chance to add him to its class.
Regardless of whether Scott commits to Michigan or not, Marshall’s commitment could be just the break in the Scarlett and Gray wall Michigan needs to poach other elite Ohio talent. His presence on the roster and future production as a Wolverine will send a signal to others from Ohio that Ann Arbor is a place where success on the gridiron can come in spades.