Big Ten Recruiting: Urban Meyer's Big Splash
"He's climbin' in your window, snatchin' yo people up."
Way back yonder in 2007, Rich Rodriguez came to the Big Ten with big plans to shake up the stodgy old conference with his newfangled spread. He was coming off unprecedented success at his former school and that success helped him immediately make an impact on the recruiting trail in the form of a handful of recruits that weren't previously interested.
One recruit in particular, a skinny wide receiver from Trotwood-Madison High School in Ohio, was the genesis of Joe Tiller's famous rant: "If we had an early signing date, you wouldn't have another outfit with a guy in a wizard hat selling snake oil get a guy at the last minute, but that's what happened."
Now, whether there was ever any "gentleman's agreement" between Big Ten coaches or not, that moment should have galvanized either one of two things:
All's fair in love and recruiting.
It is best not to get too worked up over the college decisions of high school kids, because they can change their minds rapidly.
Either way, the 2011 hiring of Urban Meyer has played out in much the same way. Meyer becoming Ohio State's football coach was about the worst-kept secret in college football by the end of November. Highly touted defensive end recruit Adolphus Washington chose Ohio State back on Nov. 22 on the assumption that Meyer would be the next coach. Six days—and one denial—later, Meyer took the job.
Meyer quickly set to work on recruiting his 2012 class and was granted a waiver by the NCAA that allowed him to work with his partial staff to assemble the class while the old Buckeye coaching staff carries out bowl preparations. While some don't agree with the ruling, the NCAA's acquiescence soon paid large dividends.
"Large" in the form of 6'3," 305-lb. defensive tackle Tommy Schutt, a one-time Notre Dame lock that saw his offer disappear upon the commitment of another defensive tackle, Sheldon Day, to the Irish back in August. Schutt quickly expressed interest in Michigan before eventually settling at Penn State. However, a recent visit to Ohio State led to his commitment early this week.
The next domino to fall was another Big Ten prize recruit. This time it was former Ohio State coordinator Mark Dantonio feeling the heat from Columbus as Se'Von Pittman, the Spartans' top-rated prospect, switched his commitment to Ohio State.
Not satisfied to stop there, Meyer locked down the commitment of 4-star running back Bri'onte Dunn, a longtime soft commitment to Ohio State who was also seriously interested in Michigan. Despite being on the Michigan sideline for the Wolverines' win over Ohio State, a visit last weekend was enough to end any flirtation with Michigan despite Dunn's previous reservations about playing in the spread offense.
Who could be next? Rumor has it that offensive lineman Kyle Dodson, a Buckeye lean early but eventual Wisconsin commit, could switch his commitment to Ohio State soon.
With or without Dodson, Urban Meyer has put together quite a class so far in Columbus and has completely turned around the negative vibe that hung over the campus through much of the year. While none of these commits are a surprise—either being heavy Ohio State leans early (Pittman, Washington, Dunn) or somewhat flaky to begin with (Schutt)—the quickness with which he has reaffirmed what had previously been an almost complete control of Ohio recruits by OSU is thoroughly impressive.
With a little success on the field it could be sooner rather than later that Ohio State is back at the head of the table in the Big Ten.
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