WHO'S NEXT? With apologies to Keith Moon, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle and Pete Townshend, let's take a little journey and see where we end up, as we try to put together this recruiting puzzle. Take a listen to this musical look at the Ohio State recruiting world.
BABA O'RILEY: Just as Baba O'Riley was the first song in the album, Who's Next, Adolphus Washington has to be mentioned first in anything concerning the Ohio State 2012 recruiting class. Washington is the top prospect in Ohio, maybe the Midwest, and one of the best defensive ends in America. Is it for certain a done deal that Washington will be a Buckeye? Yes, it is. If there was any doubt before last weekend, and I don't think there was, things were sealed on the visit. Washington and Luke Fickell have forged a great relationship, and credit should go the head coach if he pulls this one off. This one was dead and buried last summer, but Fickell hung in there and would not back away, like great recruiters do.
BARGAIN? Getting Washington is cause for champagne and caviar, but don't discount the friendship Adolphus has with Dwayne Stanford, and this becomes a two-for-one deal for the Buckeyes. Stanford will be joining his teammate at Ohio State, where they can continue their friendship that extends to basketball season, as well as football.
WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN: He is still trying to say the right things, but it's time to face the facts: Ifeadi Odenigbo has eliminated Ohio State and will not be in this class. This was decided a while ago, but he's such a great person that he finds it hard to disappoint people. Look for Notre Dame or Stanford to land this potential star linebacker.
GOING MOBILE? Not a chance, although he might visit Alabama and/or Auburn. If I were a betting man, I just might be willing to wager a bob or two that Se'Von Pittman could find his way into this recruiting class before all is said and done. Still a LONG way to go on this one, but the hardest hurdle might have already been cleared with Pittman telling Mark Dantonio face-to-face he is thinking of visiting Ohio State. In a dream scenario, Pittman would formally de-commit from Michigan State and just flat out open up his recruitment. Other visits would make a switch a lot easier than just visiting the Buckeyes officially and making the move. Stay tuned on this one, but it just might be trending Ohio State's direction.
TIME IS PASSING: But, Ohio State jumped and offered Alex Kozan in the nick of time, before he committed to another program. Kozan will visit Ohio State officially this coming weekend. Do I expect to see Ohio State land the Colorado lineman? Absolutely. Look to see Kozan committed to the Buckeyes in the near not-too-distant future.
SONG IS OVER? For anyone trying to recruit against Ohio State next year it just might be over. It might seem unfathomable, but Ohio State might end up wishing they could sign 40 recruits for the class of 2013, and this one is set up to be one for the books. Who might be in this class? In-state, every single name is possible, with the exception of Dymonte Thomas. Out of state studs? A return to the good old days of plucking studs out of Florida could be returning. Those kids are now back looking at Ohio State after a one-year hiatus, and next year will be a strong year in Florida. I will take a closer look at the 2013 class in a few weeks, but for now the potential candidates will number over 50. And all are legit possibilities. Could be selecting, not recruiting, for the 2013 class.
GETTING IN TUNE? The Brionte Dunn saga will probably drag on for a few more months without resolution, and it seems like this one could be trending away from Ohio State. The nice thing is Dunn will back away from recruiting as long as his Canton GlenOak team is in the playoffs, and this is a good thing. A telling sign might be the fact that the Ohio State commits get together on Facebook to chat every week or so, and nearly all participate, with one notable exception: Brionte Dunn. He has not really bonded with the Ohio State commits yet, and he does have a relationship with Kyle Kalis and Tom Strobel, so that bears worth watching going forward. The good thing for Ohio State is that they have the home court advantage, and Dunn grew up wanting to play for the Buckeyes. I don't think Dunn is totally clear where he will be playing his college football at this time, so a long playoff run might be the best thing for him, so he can get away from it all for a few weeks. UPDATED ODDS: Truly a 50-50 proposition at this point in time.
BEHIND BLUE EYES: He doesn't do interviews all that often, so it's tough to know where things stand with offensive lineman Nick Davidson, but there are whispers that Stanford and Ohio State are in great shape. Until we hear from Nick where things are in his recruitment we just won't know what's going on behind those baby blues, but it's hard to discount the legacy factor with the Davidson family. Looking from the outside-in, it's hard to not see Ohio State as a player for this player.
TIME IS PASSING: By all accounts Ohio State wants to add a linebacker to this group, and the two candidates being looked at closely are Joe Burger and "The Steamroller", Mason Monheim. The longer things go without either being offered, the more it looks like it might not happen. A key sign? Seeing one or both being brought in for an official visit. Both players are in the playoffs, so they still have time to add to the resume.
ROAD RUNNER: One glaring weakness in the current recruiting class is the lack of a true speedster, a player that can take the football and put it in the end zone from anywhere on the field. That could be changing, although the chances aren't exactly high. A wide receiver that is currently committed elsewhere has reached out to Ohio State in the past few weeks, so you never know where that could lead. This guy ain't big, but he can fly, and he does hold an Ohio State offer. A long time ago, the Buckeyes were in this game for certain. If the visit gets set, we will give out the name, and it will be cause for excitement. Would Ohio State actually take five receivers? Let's see if this one visits before we look at that point.
MY GENERATION: Was spoiled by the overall brilliance of one Jim Tressel, on the field and in the recruiting world. Can Luke Fickell do this job? My thoughts are simple: If you can get Urban Meyer, you let him change the colors and rename the stadium, if that's what it takes. BUT, if Urban says NYET, where do you turn? Of course the NFL big hitters will be mentioned, but as Cris Carter would say: "C'MON MAN." Forget the NFLers. What about the NCAA stars? Peterson? Patterson? Stoops? I don't think so, although you never know. Mark Dantonio? I've never been a huge fan of the on-field coaching, but he has done good things at Michigan State, so do you take a look? Tim Beckman? I think he's a great up-and-coming coach, but is he ready for this job? Is his pedigree better than Fickell's? To me, this one is easy if Urban Meyer agrees to be your next head coach. But gets dicey if he won't take it. This could get REALLY interesting in the coming weeks and months.
LOVE AIN'T FOR KEEPING: And nobody knows this better than Luke Fickell. The fact is as much as people admire the Lukester, and trust me, there is a lot to admire, there is no sentiment in this business. If you can whack Jim Tressel and never look back, you can run Luke Fickell with a three-word text message. College coaching is all about recruiting in my opinion. If you have the horses, chances are you can get the right minds to coordinate the on-field play. Could Fickell succeed at the Ohio State expectation-level if he had free reign to hire and fire his staff as he chooses? I do not have that answer. If you go by what we saw early in the year, the answer would be a resounding NO. BUT, the past few games, even the Nebraska collapse, has shown us a few things. One is that players play their tails off for Luke Fickell. Will it continue through the Michigan game? We have to see. Obviously, there is far more to being the head coach at Ohio State than just getting players to play hard, and on-field experience is so huge. Learning on the job is not the desired outcome for the future of Ohio State, and one need only pop in the tapes of Miami and Michigan State to see what that looks like.
PURE AND EASY: The one facet of being head coach at Ohio State that I do feel Luke Fickell can do at Buckeye-level is recruit. Other than Tressel himself, NOBODY at Ohio State can pull kids like Fickell has over the past few years. And it's not even close. He doesn't get the layups either. He doesn't do Glenville. He gets the honorable area of South Florida. I believe surrounded by the right staff, Fickell could recruit at a level needed to win at Ohio State. He has held things together with the 2012 players as well as can be expected, and he has Ohio State set up for a bonanza with the 2013 kids. In recruiting, the Ohio State brand is rebounding with the younger players.
MY WIFE: Well, actually, Fickell's wife. Huh? There is a growing sentiment that should Meyer come on-board as the next Ohio State head coach, Fickell would be asked to stay on in some fashion, with the assistant head coach title given to him. Would he take that? Or would he look to go out and be a head coach elsewhere? I do not have that answer, but by all accounts, Fickell and his family are VERY comfortable in Columbus, and he just might prefer to have his old life back. There is no doubting Fickell never wanted this scenario to unfold, and was perfectly happy in his old role under Tressel. Would he be willing to keep his family in Columbus, and return to his old post under someone like Meyer? Stay tuned.
That takes care of this week's look at Ohio State's recruiting efforts, and the coaching situation. Hopefully, it wasn't too off-key, and we hit the high notes.