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What if Ronald Jones II Hadn’t Flipped Commitment from Oklahoma State to USC?



Before Ronald Jones was 38th pick in the NFL Draft, before he was a first team All-Pac 12 selection in 2017 at USC, he was the fourth ranked high school running back in the country and committed to Oklahoma State.

For those who might not remember, Jones, a class of 2015 recruit, committed to OSU on April 6, 2014. He stayed that way through the summer and fall before flipping to USC late in the process.

Justice Hill has been mentioned in the same breath as Barry Sanders a few times this preseason, be it their shared laid-back demeanor or their obvious incredible abilities on a football field. Had Jones followed through his initial commitment and came to OSU, Hill might have shared something else with Sanders in having another superstar running back ahead of him.

In 2015, Jones’ freshman year at USC, the running game was a struggle in Stillwater. Chris Carson was the Cowboys’ leading rusher with 517 yards, and behind him was backup quarterback J.W. Walsh who had 359 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Jones was splitting carries at USC with Justin Davis. Jones ended up leading the Trojans in rushing as a freshman with 987 yards and eight touchdowns.

In 2016, Hill, then a freshman, was able to work his way to the top of a crowded running back depth chart. He played in all 13 of the Cowboys’ games that season, but didn’t draw his first start until Week 4 against Baylor, a game where he ran for 122 yards and a touchdown but also had two crucial fumbles.

Here are how Hill’s and Jones’ rushing numbers measured up against each other in 2016:

Carries Yards Touchdowns Yards Per Carry
Justice Hill 206 1,142 6 5.5
Ronald Jones 177 1,082 12 6.1

Both dominated their respective conferences in 2017, as they were each first-team all-conference members. If they were both Cowboys, though, they would have either had to split carries or one would’ve been a solidified second string back.

Here are their 2017’s seasons compared:

Carries Yards Touchdowns Yards Per Carry
Justice Hill 268 1,467 15 5.5
Ronald Jones 261 1,550 19 5.9


I don’t think Jones coming would’ve deterred Hill coming to OSU. Hill wasn’t highly recruited, as his other offers were Houston, Kansas and Louisville, but it might not be until this season, with Jones in the NFL, that Hill would’ve been able to show his full potential.

But who knows? Maybe Hill comes in and beats Jones out in 2016. Hill was able to do so against Carson, the current Seattle Seahawks starting running back.

It probably ended the best it could for both parties. Hill is prepping for a big junior season with NFL possibilities on the horizon, and Jones is getting ready for his rookie season with the Buccaneers and offensive coordinator Todd Monken. However, it would have been a lot of fun to see that two-headed backfield line up with Mason Rudolph last season.

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