A Successful Signing Day At Ohio State

Urban Meyer secured 25 signatures for his first Ohio State football recruiting class on Wednesday and came away happy to fill several needs for the 2012 roster. He offered no apology for grabbing players already heading elsewhere and credited his staff for its hard work before and after his hiring.

Despite going 2 for 2 on his first National Signing Day as head coach at Ohio State, Urban Meyer resisted calling the 2012 recruiting class a home run.

"We'll evaluate that later," he said. "We signed a class one time when I was at Florida that I heard a reporter say was the greatest class in the history of football. Half of them aren't there any more. You just don't know."

He had good reason to be cautious, but fans were happy to revel in their favorite team's good fortune after a year's worth of heartache over NCAA troubles.

They saw their new head coach take a middle-of-the-road class and lifted it to the top of the Big Ten and No. 3 in the nation in barely more than two months on the job.

Meyer was clearly proud of what he and his staff, a mix of newly hired coaches and holdovers from the previous regime, were able to do.

"Let me say this about recruiting for Ohio State," Meyer said. "Recruiting is work ethic, it's uncovering who the champions are for each young man that you're recruiting, but most of all it's a belief in the place you're at and knowledge of the place you're at. To be able to do that in such a quick time period, a lot of credit goes to our coaching staff.

"If you take a good close look at them, either they're from Ohio or they have strong ties in the state. Tim Hinton, a member of our staff, was very successful high school coach, very important member of the high school association in the state. This staff was put together with a purpose. Recruiting without question was a number one importance of putting together a staff."

They topped it off with a pair of pledges on Wednesday as Durham (N.C.) Hillside linebacker Jamal Marcus and Cleveland Heights, Ohio, offensive tackle Kyle Dodson announced they would accept offers from Ohio State.

That particularly pleased Meyer as he identified their position groups as ones of need.

"The area that was probably the most dire need was linebacker," Meyer said. "Because of injuries, because of attrition, we were way down, and we're very excited."

As for the offensive line, he was elated to land Dodson along with Vandalia (Ohio) Butler tackle Taylor Decker. The two were verbally committed to Wisconsin and Notre Dame, respectively, when Meyer took over as head coach of the Buckeyes on Nov. 28.

"The day I was hired, we came back here, got to work, said, ‘Let's pick out the top offensive tackles in America because that's where we're at as far as our shortage,' " Meyer said. "That night we were on the phone. If you would have told me we got the top two guys, that would have been a good day for us. We got the top two guys."

In all, the Ohio State class of 2012 numbered 25 members at the end of National Signing Day. That included four players rated five-star recruits, 11 four-star talents and 10 given three stars.

Meyer signed 12 offensive players and 13 on defense with the most-represented positions being linebacker and offensive line, where the class includes five apiece.

Ten of the players – Dodson; Marcus; Decker; Canton (Ohio) McKinley defensive end Se'Von Pittman; Glenbard (Ill.) West defensive tackle Tommy Schutt; Windsor, Col., offensive lineman Joey O'Connor; Harrisburg (Pa.) Bishop McDevitt defensive end Noah Spence; South Bend (Ind.) Washington linebacker David Perkins and West Roxbury (Mass.) Catholic Memorial School teammates Camren Williams and Armani Reeves – picked Ohio State after Meyer was hired on Nov. 28. The new coach also successfully re-recruited Canton GlenOak tailback Bri'onte Dunn, who visited Michigan late in November, after the five-star prospect initially committed during his junior year.

He was matter of fact when asked about convincing so many players to look into being Buckeyes after committing elsewhere. Pittman was committed to Michigan State and Schutt headed to Penn State at the time Meyer was hired. O'Connor, Williams and Reeves were former Penn State verbals while Perkins at one time was headed to Notre Dame.

"Is it gratifying to take a guy from another school? Not at all," Meyer said. "Is it gratifying to know we got the two offensive tackles that we went out in November or December, when we first got here and saw that night on the videotape, said we want those two, get them on the phone, bang, now they're part of our class. I mean, that amazed me. I didn't think that could happen."

Meyer admitted it was a whirlwind that was unlike anything he had ever seen, but he credited Luke Fickell and fellow holdovers from the previous staff Stan Drayton and Mike Vrabel for helping hold the class together during the six months after Jim Tressel was forced out as head coach and the school faced uncertainty about potential NCAA sanctions.

"They did a great job with the transition," Meyer said. "No agenda. Very selfless approach to being able to close this kind of recruiting class on such short notice."

Fickell, who served as head coach for the 2011 season and moved to defensive coordinator after Meyer's hiring, said the focus simply was on selling Ohio State as a program and a school when it was uncertain who would be leading it.

"This program and the foundation is set," the former Buckeye nose tackle said. "It sold itself. Over the last 10 years you have to give a lot of credit – the high school coaches have treated this program and us unbelievable. It was always good but in the last 10 years it's even been better, and that's because of the relationship, not with just Coach Tressel, but all the coaches that have been here. The true belief is Ohio State being the flagship school for this state. For us to truly be able to share in every aspect we can with those guys."

Ohio State might not be finished welcoming athletes for 2012. The Buckeyes remain in the running for Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral four-star wide receiver/defensive back Davonte' Neal and Olney (Md.) Our Lady of Good Counsel five-star wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

Meyer admitted one of the lingering needs on his team is speed on the perimeter on offense, and he said he sees one spot open for the fall roster as of now.

"Our magic number is 82," he said, referring to a loss of scholarships due to NCAA sanctions for the next three seasons. "I want to say right now we're at 81."

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