The Ohio State Buckeyes look to be be in great position to land 5-star safety Vonn Bell, but they'll have to be able to out-recruit Tennessee and Alabama on the home stretch to national signing day.
Urban Meyer is arguably one of the best recruiters in college football, but this is still going to be quite a tall order for the Buckeyes coach and his staff.
The good news is: Ohio State and Meyer seemed to have made a very good impression with the talented safety during his recent official visit. Brad Bournival of ESPN.com reports on the visit, citing Bell's high school coach Mark Mariakas:
When Bell met with Urban Meyer near the end, he laid out exactly what was next for Bell and his family in what has been an incredible -- albeit exhausting -- experience for the 6-foot, 190-pound senior.
“Vonn told Coach Meyer today -- I don’t know if he asked him directly about what he liked the best -- but his answer was he liked Coach Meyer and what they’ve got going on because it reminded him so much about us at Ridgeland,” Mariakas said. “The personalities he and I have are so similar. He liked that relationship and environment.
“That has been the one thing that has drawn him to Ohio State, other than it’s a great institution and great staff. They’re building a great program. That’s the variable that’s drawn him. It’s going to be a very tough decision for him.”
With Alabama and Tennessee slated for visits in the next two weeks, Ohio State is going to have to hope that their good impression was a lasting one.
According to his 247Sport interest list, Bell has Alabama, Tennessee and Ohio State in his top three. Tennessee was his favorite program growing up, and Alabama's draw with elite recruits is self explanatory at this point.
While I would normally give the edge to Meyer on the recruiting trail in just about any other situation, there is no doubting that he'll have his work cut out for him if he wants to land Bell's commitment.
Will Ohio State be able to fend off Alabama and Tennessee?
As of right now, I'm going to say yes.
Ohio State can provide Bell with a program that can compete for the national championship in the next few seasons, and Meyer is arguably the only coach in college football that we can even put anywhere near Saban's level at this point.
Meyer has championship experience, and he has the Buckeyes' program poised to do great things again. There are only a few programs that will be able to legitimately compete with Alabama on the national stage in the next few seasons, and Ohio State is one of those programs.
That potential should give the trump card to OSU and Alabama over the childhood favorite Volunteers—who will need a few seasons to rebuild to contention in the SEC—and from there it's somewhat of a tossup.
Frankly, the main factor Ohio State fans will have to keep an eye on is another recruit, and Alabama target—5-star safety Tony Conner.
Conner has Alabama and Ole Miss in his top two (247Sports), and if he chooses the Crimson Tide, that could make Alabama seem a lot less appealing for Bell (he's expected to make his decision on February 3rd, Bell is expected to decide on national signing day, per Bournival's report).
The general vibe of Conner's recruitment could play a role in Bell's decision-making process. If Alabama starts making a big push for Conner in these next few weeks, that could be the window of opportunity Meyer and the Buckeyes need.
Either way, Ohio State has to be feeling pretty good about its chances. Making a good impact on the 5-star safety was huge during his unofficial visit. Now it just comes down to holding on to that momentum.
It's going to be an uphill road, but I like Ohio State's chances of fending off Alabama and Tennessee for Bell's commitment.