Meyer Makes It Work

The recruiting season couldn't really have been much different for Urban Meyer from last year to this season, but one thing hasn't changed: The Ohio State head coach's ability to bring in top players. Whether he has just a few months or a whole year to do it, Meyer can make it work.

When Urban Meyer took over as Ohio State's head coach last year, he had a race to the finish to fill the Buckeyes' recruiting class.

Hired in November and put fully in charge of things in January, Meyer inherited a recruiting class that was sitting in the 20s in Scout's national rankings when he took over. The Buckeyes had picked up some quality prospects in the class – five-star players Brionte Dunn (who wavered toward Michigan before eventually being convinced to pick OSU by Meyer) and Adolphus Washington as well as four-star safety Devan Bogard among them – but the program was finding the recruiting going to be tough given the uncertainty surrounding the program.

But Luke Fickell kept the Buckeyes in the running with numerous top prospects during his interim season in charge, and Meyer immediately hit the gas pedal when it came to a frantic and fantastic finish. He picked up two more five-star defensive linemen in Noah Spence and Tommy Schutt as well as six other four-star players in a final push that raised the Buckeyes to third in the nation in Scout's final rankings.

It wasn't easy, though. Upon being named head coach, Meyer's recruiting strategy was simple.

"Last year, it was ‘Give me the top 20 guys at the positions,' and I was on the phone with them trying to get them," he said this January.

Some of the results were amazing given the situation. For example, Meyer got the top two offensive tackle prospects on his board in Ohioans Taylor Decker (Vandalia Butler) and Kyle Dodson (Cleveland Heights) while also restocking the defensive line and adding some much-needed linebacking prospects. The third-place finish in the national rankings highlighted just how good a recruiter Meyer can be no matter how much time he has to work.

This year, the ending has been the same, but the path different for Ohio State. With Meyer having a full year in charge, the program has had more time to scout players, forge relationships and do the legwork required to put together one of the top recruiting classes in the country. The result is a class that, on paper, is slightly better than last year's gangbusters finish.

Along the way, Meyer has shown his recruiting prowess in many ways. He instituted a "Friday Night Lights" camp that brought together many of the top prospects in the country, and his welcoming of ESPN to campus for an All-Access special showcased his coaching staff and his methods to prospects all over the country. The staff has embraced social media as a way to chronicle its impressive jaunts around the country to check out to prospects.

Of course, on-field success doesn't hurt, either. This season, Ohio State also posted an unbeaten 12-0 record that solidified the program as elite in the national scene.

The combination of all factors means Ohio State sits second at the moment in Scout's recruiting rankings in overall points as well as stars per player.

"It's called flavor of the month," Meyer said. "Ohio State really wasn't the flavor of the month a year ago. We had some really quality guys that came – Noah Spence was the key name that jumped on board. But I don't want to say we're selecting, not recruiting, because that's not correct, either, but it's just a completely different approach.

"This year, we know. We've been in the schools. We know who they are. We know what we're getting. It's just a much different approach, and I do like where we're at."

What is interesting is how similar the Buckeyes' two classes have been given the two differing approaches. This year's group of 24 commits gives Ohio State 4,819 points in the Scout rankings – about 200 more than OSU had last year when it welcomed in 25 prospects.

This year's star rating per players has gone up from 3.76 to 3.92, too, showing this class might boast a little more strength than the one the Buckeyes put together a season ago. Last year, OSU was fifth in stars per player, but this year's mark trails only USC's out-of-this-world average of 4.46.

Some of the other numbers show just how similar this year's class is ranked to last year's, though. In 2012, Ohio State signed seven top 100 players, four five-star players, 11 four stars and 10 three-star prospects. Those numbers are, in order, seven, three, 16 and five – numbers that show while the high-end talent in the two classes are pretty similar, the Buckeyes have done better at picking up four-star players than three stars in this group.

Five-star safety Vonn Bell and some other targets are also available and could continue to boost the Buckeye class on National Signing Day.

No matter what, though, Meyer has proved that he can build recruiting classes no matter how he has to do it.


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