OSU Recruiting At Different Level Of Late

Ohio State has been among the best football programs in the country pretty consistently in the modern era of the sport, but have the Buckeyes ever recruited quite like they have in recent years? An examination of BSB's archives shows that at least as the national ratings go, this is a great time for OSU recruiting.

Recently on BuckeyeSports.com, one of our subscribers asked about the excellent recruiting run Urban Meyer currently has the Buckeyes on and how it compared to Ohio State history.

Meyer has put together three top-five classes in as many tries since his hiring, restocking a cupboard that through injuries, attrition and a coaching change was a bit bare in some key spots when he first arrived.

But could what he's been doing be considered historic in some ways? Has Ohio State ever recruited at such a consistently high level?

Well, we can't go all the way back to the Woody Hayes era, when the legendary coach was bringing in excellent class after excellent class in the days before scholarship limitations were really a big thing.

But BSB did begin printing in 1981 and start covering recruiting with a focus in 1984, giving us three full decades of recruiting coverage. In fact, that matches up with the mushrooming of the interest in recruiting, as well, as national gurus like Tom Lemming and Allen Wallace first started coming to the fore in the 1980s.

So we can at least provide some context as to how Meyer's recent run fits in over a good length of time, and here's a good answer – it's pretty impressive.

In fact, Ohio State is currently on the only run in the BSB era of three or more consecutive seasons with a top-five class. That run stretches back to 2011, when Jim Tressel inked the third-rated class according to Scout a few months before he exited stage right as part of the Tatgate scandal that hit the program.

Meyer followed with the nation's third-rated class in 2012, a group that was started by Tressel and continued by interim coach Luke Fickell before Meyer picked up the reins at the end and sprinted to the finish with a strong push over the final two months.

Of course, Meyer's second effort was considered his best, as he finished strong on signing day by inking Vonn Bell and James Clark to edge Michigan for Scout's national recruiting crown. This year's class was third in the days leading up to National Signing Day and ended in fifth.

Before Tressel and Meyer started working together on this current run, Ohio State had only twice put together consecutive top-five classes in the BSB era. That was done, in fact, by Tressel, who inked Scout's fourth-rated class – thanks in part to late signee Terrelle Pryor – in 2008 and added the nation's top-rated class in 2009.

In other words, it appears safe to say the Buckeyes over the past few years have recruited better than at any time in the past few decades. The results have shown that, as well, including BCS victories in 2009 and '10 as well as an undefeated campaign in 2012 and last year's 12-2 mark, not to mention the school-record 24 consecutive victories.

The second such run of consecutive top-five classes goes all the way back to the early years of BSB recruiting coverage, as well as the early years of head coach John Cooper's tenure. Cooper's first full recruiting class came in 1989, and that year, the coach finished first in the Big Ten and fourth in the nation behind Notre Dame, Clemson and Florida State in Lemming's rankings.

Then, in 1990, Cooper continued stockpiling talent, inking two players who were considered No. 1 in the nation – UPI had Euclid, Ohio, running back Robert Smith as its top player, while analyst Max Emfinger said the same of Cleveland St. Ignatius quarterback Joe Pickens – by experts. That class placed third in UPI's rankings and fifth in Emfinger's.

Those classes, which included players like Steve Tovar, Jason Simmons, Chico Nelson, Roger Harper, Alan Kline, Jason Winrow, Smith, Joey Galloway and Chris Sanders, who helped re-establish the program among the nation's best as Cooper's program reached the mid-1990s.

Still, Cooper tended to vault up and down the recruiting rankings dramatically in his tenure, giving validity to one of the head coach's favorite sayings – one day you're stomping the wine, the next, you're stomping the grapes.

In fact, his 1991 effort wasn't even considered a top-25 group by analysts like Lemming and Wallace, then he followed in 1992 with a top-10 class.

BSB staff writer Ryan Ginn contributed to this report.

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