What the End of the Mike Weber Recruiting Saga Means for Ohio State

Ben AxelrodBig Ten Lead WriterFebruary 10, 2015


COLUMBUS, Ohio — Shortly after 5 p.m. yesterday, a tweet entered my feed showing Ohio State signee Mike Weber wearing a Michigan shirt during a workout at his high school. Given that at the time, Weber appeared to still be torn between the Buckeyes and Wolverines following the departure of OSU running backs Stan Drayton, I found it interesting and decided to retweet it.

Buckeyes star defensive end Joey Bosa responded, his dry sense of humor more apparent than ever. 

As it often does, Twitter ran with it from there, as stories popped up asking if Bosa had dissed the 4-star running back. About two hours later, those stories were rendered irrelevant, however, as Weber broke his four-day streak of public silence.

Mike Weber @mikeweberjr

But want to say congrats to coach drayton wish nothing but the best , but excited to have @CoachTonyAlford aboard #GoBucks

Weber's tweet indicated that he's just fine with Drayton's replacement, Tony Alford, who had recruited the Detroit Cass Tech star during his previous job at Notre Dame. More importantly, Weber reaffirmed his decision to be a Buckeye and will evidently not seek an exit from his recently signed national letter of intent.

That's big for Ohio State and head coach Urban Meyer. The Buckeyes would have surely faced a messy dilemma had one of their prized prospects campaigned to leave the program in favor of an archrival.

Make no mistake, Drayton's sudden departure the day after signing day was still a public relations nightmare for the Buckeyes, but it appears as though its effects will only be temporary. After a weekend full of drama—including an apparent subtweet from Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh regarding the situation—Weber is sticking with Ohio State, adding the nation's ninth-ranked incoming running back to an already loaded Buckeyes backfield.

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

The Weber saga hasn't affected Ohio State's future on the recruiting trail yet either, with 5-star 2016 running back Kareem Walker solidifying his commitment to the Buckeyes with a statement approving Alford's arrival via Elevenwarriors.com's Jeremy Birmingham. Harbaugh will undoubtedly use last week's drama against Ohio State on the recruiting trail, but if Weber didn't even try to get out of his commitment, it's hard to imagine it swaying any other prospect.

The fact of the matter is coaching changes happen at the college level year-round and a player will rarely make it through all four years of his career without being affected by one. The timing of Drayton's departure was far from ideal, but in retrospect, the attention it received was full of overreaction—from myself included.

Because if there's no tangible effects—both in the short and long-terms—then what's the real harm in a couple of days of bad PR? If anything, Meyer showed his ability to make the most of a tough situation, arguably upgrading his running backs coach in the process.

“I’ve known Tony Alford for a long time and I am very pleased to be adding him to our staff,” Meyer said in a statement announcing Alford's hiring. “He is an exceptional person and coach who is going to work really well with our staff and who will be an outstanding mentor and teacher for this football program.”

Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

Highly thought of as a recruiter in coaching circles, Alford has already proven capable of minimizing any damage done by Drayton's sudden decision to leave Columbus for the Chicago Bears. That should come in handy on the recruiting trail as well, where the Buckeyes and Wolverines will be squaring off for the foreseeable future. 

As for the on-field effects of Weber's decision, he could very well see immediate playing, helping spell Hesiman frontrunner Ezekiel Elliott alongside sophomore-to-be Curtis Samuel. While Samuel possesses electrifying speed, Weber's game is more power-based, with the 5'10", 215-pounder rushing for 2,268 yards and 29 touchdowns in his senior season.

Sure, the past week—which started with Weber going back and forth on whether to initially sign with the Buckeyes or Wolverines in the first place—added plenty of sizzle to a rivalry in need of some and was perfect for today's quick-hitter news cycle. But for Ohio State, it is no longer an issue, with the Buckeyes—and Weber—walking away unscathed.

Mike Weber @mikeweberjr

Okay y'all can stop judging me now and talk about something else

Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Ohio State Lead Writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com. Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.