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SU FB Recruit Review: RB Josh Hough

Photo Courtesy of PA Football News

Syracuse Recruit Review: Josh Hough 

Josh Hough was one of the first commitments of the 2021 recruiting class, making his decision in mid-April. At the time Syracuse had just two players in the class in Terry Lockett and Malcolm Folk. Now, almost seven months later the class features 21 members, with Hough being the lowest-ranked player.  

If you’ve been on Twitter at all this fall, you’ve probably seen Hough’s insane stat lines circulating the “blogosphere” on a weekly basis.  

For some he’s become an afterthought now that top prospects like Justin Lamson, Duce Chestnut, and Jatius Geer are Syracuse bound, but Hough’s film suggests otherwise. 

Film Breakdown 

After watching Hough’s junior season highlight film, here are the takeaways: 

  • Versatility: On the first play of Hough’s film, he breaks off a long touchdown run. On the second, Hough lines up in the slot as a receiver, catches a pass running up the seam, and takes it the distance. This screams potential and should grab viewers attention less than a minute into the film. Syracuse didn’t have a running back emerge as much of a receiving threat in 2019  and it limited the offensive scheme. In 2020 we’ve seen flashes of the potential of backs getting involved in the aerial attack. Hough demonstrates his ability as a potential receiving threat in Dino Babers’ offense. Hough also has positional versatility. He is a two-way player for his Beaver Falls High School team lining up as a OLB/DE Hybrid as well. His film suggests he has some potential there as well if running back doesn’t work out. 
  • Power: Taking a look at the third play of the film, Hough is lined up in the backfield in what is a goal line set. Against a stacked box, he takes a toss-left, trucks a defender, cuts it back outside, steps out of another tackle on his way to the endzone. Turn the sound on to hear what is probably his offensive coordinator “ooh-ing” and “aah-ing.” Hough stands 6-foot-2 and checks in at 235 pounds and looks every bit of it on film. He plows over defenders and certainly fits the bill of a power back with some breakaway speed in his bag of tricks as well.  
  • Vision: On this play at the 2:08 mark, it’s a counter left, so the right guard and tackle will pull left and open up a hole in the b-gap (between the tackle and guard). Hough shows good patience and vision, allows the blocks to set up and then takes off through the hole, untouched to the endzone.  
  • Final thoughts: Hough has plenty of proven traits and can put them all together in one play. He has power, vision, and he tops it off with deceiving, breakaway speed. One thing Hough lacks is a quick burst. It takes him a little while to hit that top gear. When he takes a handoff, he’s not a guy that’s going to get to the second level with his speed. However, he can get to the second level and turn 10-yard plays into home runs by following his blocks and breaking tackles which he shows he can do at will.  

Player Comparison- Joe Mixon 

Hough’s game is comparable to the Cincinnati Bengals star. Coming into college, Mixon was 6-foot-1, 226 lbs and a five-star recruit who played his ball at the University of Oklahoma. The Sooners used Mixon in the backfield, as well as in the slot as a receiver and he excelled. Hough has similar physical traits and plays in the same way. However, speed is the reason Mixon was a consensus five star recruit and Hough isn’t. As soon as Mixon touched the ball, he exploded and could beat defenders with both speed and power. Hough has the ability to play in the same fashion, but Mixon ran a 4.5 40-yard dash at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine. According to Hough’s hudl page, he runs a 4.69 40-yard dash which he can improve with experience in a collegiate strength and conditioning program.  

Final Thoughts 

Hough has racked up 1,816 yards in NINE GAMES with 26 touchdowns so far in his senior season at Beaver Falls High School. Folks once again, this is a running back, not a quarterback. Those are video game type numbers and yeah, he may be playing inferior competition as Pennsylvania is no Texas when it comes to high school football. However, all you can do as a recruit against weak leagues and competition, is domination. Judging by those numbers, I’d say Hough is running the show. 

If you’re not convinced with the Joe Mixon comparison, try Maryland true freshman running back Penny Boone. 

The Detroit native is 6-foot-1, 245 pounds and boy does he run like it. In his senior year at Michigan high school football powerhouse Martin Luther King High School, Boone ran for 1,282 yards on 129 carries (10 per carry) with 22 touchdowns. According to, Boone ran a 4.81 40-yard dash and a 4.84 shuttle. Hough, as aforementioned, claims a 4.69 40-yard dash and a 4.54 shuttle time. The shuttle time is verified by the 40 is not, but still the numbers don’t lie. Hough can turn and change directions quicker than Boone, which proves that the extra size doesn’t hinder his athleticism.  

Back to Boone, The true freshman has already gotten some opportunities for the Terps, who have played three games. Boone has carried 10 times for 51 yards and here’s a visual of what you can expect to see from Hough in college, a big bruising back with deceiving speed. I don’t know about you but I’m excited to see this in the Dome. 

Hough is an underrated prospect who has a high floor and can be an impact player for SU. Much like former SU tailback Jarveon Howard, he’s a good mix of power and speed. Hough is a player that can be a bellcow, every down back and has the durability to take fifteen-twenty carries a game. He’s likely going to redshirt his freshman season, but may get some opportunities in short yardage and goal line situations. Honestly who knows though, SU is on its 5th string at running back so I wouldn’t be shocked to see Hough get some early playing time alongside Sean Tucker and Jawhar Jordan

Overall, this is a potential “diamond in the rough” prospect Babers and staff uncovered, and even though Hough is currently the lowest ranked commitment in the 2021 class he shouldn’t be forgotten. 

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