By The Numbers: John Cooper's OSU Recruiting

Ohio State recruiting changed during John Cooper's time as head coach of the Buckeyes from 1988-2000. He continued to recruit a majority of his players from Ohio, but Cooper expanded the reach of the program throughout the country and made the Buckeyes a national power again after a slide in the late 1980s.

As head coach at Ohio State, John Cooper brought in a Heisman Trophy winning running back from Philadelphia and a Rose Bowl winning quarterback from Arizona while recruiting future NFL draft picks from 15 different states and Washington, D.C.

After compiling a list of all 281 scholarship players signed by Cooper, we took a look at what trends emerged. In the future, we will compare these to the classes signed by Jim Tressel and so far by Urban Meyer.

Two schools sent multiple future NFL draft picks to Ohio State during Cooper's tenure: Canton McKinley (3) and Shaker Heights (2). Interestingly, all three of from McKinley – Mike Doss, Jamar Martin and Kenny Peterson – played on the same state championship team. Adrien Clarke and Nate Clements came from Shaker Heights.

Two cities tied for sending the most out-of-state prospects to Ohio State under John Cooper: Detroit (Marco Cooper, Randall Browns, James Ross and Larry Waldon) and Sarasota (Cedric Saunders, Chico Nelson, Larry Kennedy and Foster Paulk). Five cities sent three players to Ohio State: Boca Raton, Fla., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Jacksonville, Fla., Patterson, N.J., and Washington, D.C.

No school sent more players to Ohio State during Cooper's time as head coach than Cleveland St. Ignatius. Six Wildcats became Buckeyes: offensive linemen LeCharles Bentley, Jim Massey, Eric Gohlstin and Juan Porter, defensive lineman John Day and quarterback Joe Pickens. Bentley, Gohsltin and Porter became starters, and Bentley was a consensus All-American who won the Rimington award as the nation's best center in 2001. He was drafted in the second round by the New Orleans Saints and went to two Pro Bowls.

The 1998 class produced the most draft picks with 11. That was despite being one of the smallest classes with only 16 members.

The most starters to come from one class was 13, a mark hit by the 1989 and '98 classes. The percentage of starters was much different, however, as the '89 class had 24 players while only 16 signed in '98. The 81-percent starting rate of the '98 class is far and away the best. Seven of Cooper's 13 classes produced at least 50 percent starters, including 54 percent of the '89 and '92 classes.

The Cooper pool of signees included at least one player from every position on the field, including fullback, kicker and punter. Defensive back led the way with 15 draftees, including 12 from Ohio. Ten linebackers were drafted (seven in-state), nine offensive linemen, nine receivers and eight defensive linemen. There were five players signed as quarterbacks drafted – Preston Harrison of Columbus South, Bobby Hoying of St. Henry, Joe Germaine of Scottsdale, Ariz., Steve Bellisari of Boca Raton, Fla., and Craig Krenzel of Utica, Mich. – but two (Bellisari and Harrison) were drafted as defensive players.

Cooper signed players from 22 different states, including 169 Ohioans. Florida was the No. 1 out-of-state source for Buckeyes, supplying 23. That was followed by 14 Californians, 10 Michiganders and eight from New Jersey.

Cooper signed more than one player from 30 different Ohio high schools. After the six from Cleveland St. Ignatius there were four apiece from Columbus Brookhaven, Canton McKinley, Columbus DeSales, Cincinnati Moeller, St. Henry and Westerville South.

Thirty-one different Ohio towns sent more than one player to Ohio State during Cooper's tenure. Columbus led the way with 17 while Cincinnati and Cleveland had 11 apiece. Others with more than two: Canton (5), Dublin (5), Youngstown (5), Westerville (4), St. Henry (4), Dayton (3), Massillon (3), Warren (3) and Middletown (3).

Cooper signed 44 players from Ohio who were drafted by an NFL team. That is 26.0 percent of the 169 Ohioans signed during Cooper's years.

Cooper signed more linebackers than any other position, but it was close. The 46 linebackers was just one more than 45 defensive linemen. There were 44 offensive linemen and 43 defensive backs.

Ohioans accounted for 60 percent of Cooper's 281 signees.

The '98 class' 69-percent draft rate is more than double any other class. Players drafted from the '98 class: Steve Bellisari, LeCharles Bentley, Nate Clements, James Cotton, Willie "Cie" Grant, Jamar Martin, Donnie Nickey, Kenny Peterson, Ryan Pickett, Derek Ross and Jonathan Wells.

Northeast Ohio led the state with recruits signed by Cooper at 70. He signed 40 from Central Ohio, 36 from Southwest Ohio, 17 from Northwest Ohio and six from Southeast Ohio.

Overall, 72 of Cooper's signees were drafted by an NFL team. That is 25.6 percent.

Follow on Twitter @marcushartman

Buckeye Sports Top Stories