Having consistently brought in top-ranked recruiting classes during his time coaching the Florida Gators, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has a reputation as being one of the best recruiters in all of college football.
For more than any other reason, Buckeyes fans immediately became excited about the recruiting impact when The Ohio State University hired Urban Meyer as its head football coach on Nov. 28.
While it was expected that Urban would make a huge impact upon recruiting, I did not expect his impact upon the Class of 2012 to be major. I clearly underestimated how great of a recruiter Urban is.
Since coming to Columbus, Urban has had the privilege of being able to focus all of his attention on recruiting. This is thanks to a special waiver granted by the NCAA that enabled incumbent head coach Luke Fickell and his staff to coach the Buckeyes through the Gator Bowl, while Meyer is able to work on building his own coaching staff and recruiting.
Meyer has certainly been focused and fulfilling his current job responsibilities. Before Meyer was even officially announced as Ohio State head coach, the impending hire lured defensive end Adolphus Washington, the top prospect from the state of Ohio, to commit to the Buckeyes on Nov. 22. On Nov. 27, the day before Meyer was announced as head coach, 4-star wide receiver Ricquan Southward, from Lakeland, Florida, committed to play for Ohio State.
Since being announced, Meyer has hit the recruiting trail hard, and has been the biggest recruiting enemy to opposing Big Ten schools. On Dec. 12, two big defensive line prospects decommitted from Big Ten schools and recommitted to Ohio State: defensive tackle Tommy Schutt left the scandalous Penn State program to become a Buckeye, and on the same day, in-state product Se’Von Pittman from Canton, Ohio decommitted from Michigan State to come back to Ohio State. Both Schutt and Pittman are 4 -star recruits, and ranked within the ESPNU 150. Undoubtedly, both young men’s decisions were influenced strongly by Meyer.
The day following Schutt and Pittman’s commitments, Meyer’s recruiting impact shined through again. Running back Brionte Dunn, also from Canton, Ohio, had committed to Ohio State in September 2010. Over the past few months, Dunn had made numerous visits to Ann Arbor, and it appeared he was likely to decommit from Ohio State and instead play for one of Ohio State’s biggest rivals, Michigan. Meyer was able to change that quickly. On Dec. 13, Dunn reaffirmed his commitment to the Buckeyes, saying he is “150% a Buckeye.”
That said, Meyer has truly established his recruiting presence in Columbus with today’s commitment of defensive end Noah Spence. Spence, a native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, had previously committed to Penn State, but decommitted in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. Recognizing the attainability of Spence, Meyer set his sights on bringing him to Columbus, and has been successful in courting him. Spence is the Buckeyes’ first 5-star recruit from the class of 2012, a true star to headline their incoming recruiting class.
Certainly, the recent falling-out at Penn State University, with the sexual abuse allegations brought against Jerry Sandusky and the firing of long-time head coach Joe Paterno, are going to have a tremendously negative impact upon the program’s reputation. Understandably, this has led many of their recruits to decommit, and Ohio State has been smart to take advantage.
Players committing to Penn State have their sights set on playing at a high-caliber Big Ten program. That makes Ohio State and Michigan the two top destinations for Penn State decommitments. With the commitments of Spence and Schutt, the Buckeyes have taken advantage of that talent pool.
It is incredible the amount of impact that Meyer has already been able to have as Ohio State’s head coach. Even with pending, yet to be announced sanctions to be levied against the Ohio State football program by the NCAA, Meyer has still been able to lure six 4 and 5-star recruits to commit to play for the Buckeyes. This shows that the aura of playing for Ohio State remains existent, and that young men want to play for Urban Meyer, a two-time national championship winner as a head coach. (Take that, Kyle Kalis.)
The future of the Ohio State defensive line certainly looks bright. In the past month, the Buckeyes have signed four ESPNU 150 defensive linemen in Washington, Pittman, Schutt and the best of any of them being Spence. That talent crop will be added to a unit that will already bring back sophomore defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, sophomore defensive end Adam Bellamy, freshman defensive ends J.T. Moore and Steve Miller and freshman defensive tackle Michael Bennett. The Buckeyes’ defensive front should return to their normal status of being one of the NCAA’s most dominant.
Urban Meyer has already transformed Ohio State’s recruiting class from being unranked to one of the top classes in the nation, but be assured that his work is far from being done. Meyer will continue to pursue top uncommitted recruits, as well as continuing to try to lure top recruits with local ties away from other Big Ten programs.
Two uncommitted 5-star recruits, defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, are still considering Ohio State, although the Buckeyes are long shots to bring either of them to Columbus. That said, with Urban’s recruiting impact already far exceeding expectations, anything remains possible.
One recruit I really expect Urban Meyer to make a serious push for is 4-star defensive end/linebacker Ifeadi Odenigbo. Odenigbo is the best uncommitted recruit remaining from the state of Ohio, and is ranked in the ESPNU 150.
Odenigbo has visited at Stanford, Northwestern and Notre Dame, so clearly academics are a priority for Ifeadi, but I am sure Urban will recognize that and make every effort to sell Ifeadi on the growing academic prestige of The Ohio State University. (As a current student of Ohio State, I would tell Ifeadi that he would be making a great choice for both his academic and athletic pursuits by choosing to become a Buckeye!)
While there is no way of knowing who will be the next big-name recruit to commit to Ohio State, Urban will continue to influence talented young men and persuade them to become Buckeyes. His work as a recruiter is off to a tremendous start as Ohio State head coach, and he is certainly providing Buckeyes fans with great optimism for the future.
For more Ohio State football analysis and much more, follow me on Twitter @Dan_Hope !