And on National Signing Day 2014, Urban Meyer felt victorious.
"We won today," Meyer said after netting a 23-man class that currently stands as Scout's fifth-best in the country. "As long as you're keeping score, we're going to try to win."
The third-year Ohio State head coach has good reason to be proud of his latest class, which includes one five-star, 16 four-stars and six three-stars. Of course, the seemingly positive vibes inside of the WHAC could have just as soon been a sham had one four-star in particular opted to take his talents elsewhere.
Having received a verbal commitment from him last June, the Buckeyes staff thought that it was in good standing with Chicago (Ill.) De La Salle's Jamarco Jones, but the departure of his chief recruiter, Mike Vrabel, caused the sixth-best offensive tackle in the nation to look elsewhere. After taking an official visit to Michigan State this past weekend, it appeared very possible -- perhaps even likely -- that Jones would wind up with the reigning Big Ten champion Spartans, but the four-star prospect ultimately reaffirmed his commitment and signed with Ohio State.
In desperate need of offensive linemen with four starters on last year's unit having graduated, Meyer admitted losing Jones to a conference rival would have been a big blow for Buckeyes.
"That would have been a fake smile in here today if we didn't get him," Meyer said of Jones.
As Meyer explained, he never had an issue with Jones taking a visit elsewhere so much as he did the timing of it. As Ohio State was attempting to put the final touches on its class, the coaching staff soon found itself having to shift its efforts back toward a player that it thought it had already won over.
"I think kids should go on visits," Meyer stated. "Jamarco Jones went on a visit at the 11th hour. I don't know if I appreciate that. I would much rather him go on a visit in July or September. But I will never tell a kid, 'You can't visit.' I'd rather them not. And even with Jamarco, I never said you shouldn't do that. He very simply said, 'I want to make sure.'"
Even aside from Jones, Meyer has plenty to actually smile about with his 2014 haul, including a playmaker in Curtis Samuel, who he described as "electric" and arguably the best linebacking corps in the country. In Sam Hubbard, Kyle Berger and Dante Booker, the Buckeyes landed the nations second, third, and fourth best outside linebackers respectively, while Raekwon McMillan measures in as the country's fifth-ranked middle linebacker.
At a position that has been under fire at Ohio State since Meyer took over in 2012, the Buckeyes need all of the bodies that they can get, and Meyer believes that he got some good ones in his incoming quartet.
"That's far too many mistakes have been made in either lack of development or whatever and it's just not where we need to be," Meyer said of OSU's linebackers. "So there's four linebackers been recruited -- Raekwon McMillan, Sam Hubbard, Kyle Berger and Dante Booker. Four guys I'm putting pressure on them, Coach (Luke) Fickell and myself to get ready for next year. They have to play for us."
Also on the defensive side of the ball, Meyer is clearly a fan of four-star Cleveland Glenville safety Erick Smith, as well as corner Marshon Lattimore and Detroit Cass Tech cornerback Damon Webb. Given the problems with its passing defense that Ohio State endured at the end of the 2013, Meyer wants players who are ready to play right away, and believes that he's gotten just that.
"There's no redshirt for these players," Meyer said of the aforementioned defensive backs. "Damon Webb, I anticipate he'll be in the depth chart next year. And Marshon Lattimore from Glennville is going to be in the mix as well. And Erick Smith, he's a guy I'm really excited to get here. Played corner in the all-star game but we plan on putting him at safety. And once again, immediately in the depth (chart)."
When pressed, Meyer admitted that this could be his best class at Ohio State, which would certainly be saying something considering that its two predecessors were each ranked third (2012) and first (2013) in the country. But in order to live up to that billing, the newest Buckeyes will have to not only play but produce, something that Meyer knows can be easier said than done.
"There is a correlation between how teams do where your team is ranked, recruiting class is ranked," Meyer said. "But certainly that's not the final product because you've got to coach and develop them and get them here."