BANK Blog: Buckeye Recruiting Look

Ohio State has seemingly turned up the heat in their attempt to salvage a 2012 recruiting class that was severely wounded by the earlier resignation of former head coach Jim Tressel, and the current NCAA investigation into the program. Are the coaches simply being more aggressive, or are potential recruits seeing Ohio State in a different light?

It's way too early to call it a major development, but there are subtle indicators that the Ohio State coaching staff has stepped up the intensity in trying to fill the remaining spots in the 2012 class. The Buckeyes currently have 14 spots spoken for, and there is probably room to add seven or eight more, depending upon potential NCAA scholarship reductions.

WHO IS IN THE MIX? Miami commit Herbert Waters has scheduled an official visit for the Penn State game, and assistant coach Stan Drayton has had a positive influence in his recruitment. Drayton has a great relationship with Homestead HS, and Ohio State has been eyeballing Waters for a while. Doubtful Drayton would be in pursuit, and just as doubtful Waters would visit, if there wasn't high interest from both parties. Not sure why they are looking at another receiver, but maybe Washington and Stanford are going their separate ways?

BRIONTE STILL THINKING? Brionte Dunn's high school career ended last weekend, and the five-star prospect will now turn his attention to the recruiting process. Ohio State is still in great position to land the power-back, but Michigan is also right there with a strong chance of landing Dunn. A key to this recruitment could be Ohio State keeping Luke Fickell on staff, as Dunn has a lot of respect for the current Buckeye head coach. I can see exciting trips to USC and Miami in his future, but I don't see him going too far from home in the end. Still calling this one a two-team race, with Ohio State still having questions that Dunn will need to see answered.

SE'VON COMING HOME? Canton McKinley star defensive Se'Von Pittman end is still in the playoffs, and the Michigan State commit is certainly reconsidering his early commitment. An official visit to Ohio State is being discussed, and I think that decision tells us where Pittman will end up ultimately. If he takes that official visit to Ohio State, look for the four-star prospect to sign with the Buckeyes in February.

DODSON LOOKING? There are rumblings that Cleveland Heights offensive tackle Kyle Dodson is also reconsidering his early choice of Wisconsin, which is potentially good news for Ohio State. The bad news is that it appears Ohio State will not be the school he visits, as Auburn is making an aggressive pitch to get the four-star on campus. Stay tuned on this one, and while a visit to Auburn won't necessarily be good news for Ohio State, it will be a sign that he is not 100% sold on the Badgers.

LINEBACKER HELP? Ohio State has consistently told in-state recruits Mason Monheim and Joe Burger that they are definitely looking to add to Luke Roberts and Josh Perry. While the two in-state prospects are both clear Plan-B options, look for Ohio State to chase a few higher-rated players, and fall back on either of these two if need be. There are rumblings a committed top-notch prospect out of the South is looking at Ohio State, and a visit could be forthcoming. Like Waters earlier, if the visit gets planned, the name gets released.

OHIO PROJECTS: In a class starting to collect projects, it's tough to keep adding bodies and hope recruiting rankings and other programs are dead wrong. Taking MAC recruits and lower Big East prospects is not the ideal way to go, and certainly not the way Jim Tressel built Ohio State into a power. If they are going to add one more, they might want to keep looking at Upper Arlington offensive tackle James Henry, who is about as raw as it gets. If the offensive line numbers weren't so low and you hadn't taken a few projects earlier, Henry would be a perfect candidate to take a chance with. He plays tackle, a position beyond critical in need, and he has size and quick feet, two things you cannot teach.

BANKING SPOTS FOR NEXT YEAR? It's usually not Ohio State's business plan, but if ever there was a time to consider doing this, the class of 2013 would be the place to start. Rather than continuing to add three-star, borderline Ohio State talents, the Buckeyes might want to save a few spots for the next class. There are an unusually high number of impact recruits that are favoring Ohio State right now, and that number should only expand as the head coaching job gets finalized and the NCAA issues their final ruling. Just a thought going forward. In-state, the Buckeyes are poised to clean house, and this will probably come down to selecting the right player, because lower numbers will mean they can't take them all. Out of state recruiting also seems very positive for the current juniors, and there is reason to expect a monster recruiting class next year, regardless of the coach. Although in fairness, the current staff has done a great job with the next class and deserves a lot of credit.

THE TAFT DUO SETS ANOTHER DATE: Adolphus Washington and Dwayne Stanford pushed back their announcement date a few weeks so Stanford could visit Oregon, but I don't see that having any affect on the final decision. Washington has made his decision and Ohio State knows that, but Stanford might decide to play college football apart from his close friend, although I do not see that happening. In the end, I see both players at Ohio State, but Stanford might not be the absolute lock that Washington is.

KOZAN IN THE HOPPER? From all inside reports, Alex Kozan has Ohio State at the top of his list following his official visit last week, and the Buckeyes feel they have this one in their sights. Ohio State would love to take five linemen in this class, and adding Kozan and Nick Davidson would still allow room to chase one more big-timer, hopefully Jordan Diamond, whose recruitment is all over the map right now. Davidson doesn't talk recruiting in the media, but you have to think the Buckeye legacy is a strong possibility and he will take an official visit.

PENN STATE FALLOUT? Looking at their commitment list, only defensive tackle Tommy Schutt sticks out as a player Ohio State recruited hard. The two schools really don't go head-to-head all that much in recruiting, so it's not likely the Buckeye staff will try to poach their commits, but you never know. This issue is still too fresh to guess what might happen, but I would think this will show up in the next few classes for Ohio State's interest, not this year. And a wounded Penn State would only aid Ohio State inside Pennsylvania territory.

FICKELL STAYING AS HEAD COACH? I do not think that decision has been reached yet, but Luke Fickell is certainly making a case for being retained as head coach. Now a loss to Purdue makes this thought unbearable, but if he wins out, he is definitely in the game. Gene Smith and Gordon Gee are very happy with what they've seen in the past month or so, and this has been communicated to the coaching staff. Recruiting is the life-blood of any program, and in this area Fickell is coming up big. Dunn and Pittman will both look favorably upon Fickell getting the job permanently, and the Buckeye boss personally rescued the Washington recruitment that was dead and buried. Recruiting is in better shape today than it was in the weeks leading up to Jim Tressel's resignation, and that credit goes to Fickell. They are in far better shape under Fickell than in the first few months of him getting the job, and things are on an upswing with the seniors. That doesn't include the class of 2013, where Fickell is poised to clean up and produce a Top-5 class. This staff is out recruiting like they believe they will be retained, and their aggression and confidence has shot up in the past month. There is certainly more than recruiting to being a head coach, but it is the most important factor. Add in the fact that Ohio State has played so hard every minute of every game, and Fickell is making a case for himself. Letting him retool his staff and making him the permanent head coach should only aid the recruiting effort. Of course, losing to Purdue, Penn State and/or Michigan probably knocks this theory back to the start. But if Urban Meyer says "NO", Ohio State will have to give Fickell a long look, IF he continues to win games.


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