THE PRE-SEASON RECRUITING EDITION!
Nothing impresses potential recruits more than state-of-the-art facilities (along with state-of-the-art salesmen, of course…). If you can combine the two (think Texas), you've got something. And when you think of the Buckeyes - and the 5.3 ka-zillion dollars Andy Geiger spent in the last ten years - Ohio State has to be at the lead of that facilities thing, no?
For years, OSU has fallen behind in the edifice-complex race when it comes to, yes, the weight room. Perhaps the WHAC weight facility is better than 97 percent of the colleges, high schools and meat market health clubs. But it isn't …the best. And we were promised…it would be!
But that comes down to the money – as do most things you promise. And while Geiger was busy dodging investigation bullets, the WHAC renovation got back-burnered. Does that mean OSU missed a couple of National Name recruits because of it? Possibly yes. Probably not. Remember: Mike D'Andrea was very impressed with the drawings for the new weight room. And that was 4-5 years ago! Hey – if you're a good enough salesman, you gotta sell the sizzle when there is no steak.
But the steak is about to be served. Potential donors and planners and some of the recruits have seen the plans to turn the magnificent Woody Hayes Athletic Center into something even more magnificent. And the centerpiece? A two-story best-of-the-best weight and training facility that will make even the most dubious of recruit's socks go up and down. Bucknuts would love to be part of the new facility (maybe they will let us name something – like the laundry room…). And if you want to really help the recruiting effort at Ohio State (that is, in addition to posting the great inside information that really helps the staff!), think of contributing toward the effort. E-mail me and I will let you know how…
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More best of the best…With our reputation as being pioneers in the field of elite coverage, I wanted our team of Bucknutters to come together and create a consistent recruiting review that would be the best compendium for that inner recruitnik lurking in all of us. For the past couple of years, I have penned a review the first of each month with charts and graphs and arrows and bloated prose to try to keep everyone updated on the recruiting world. Updated, that is, according to me!
But we have such a great staff and I am so limited personally. So a sea change is in order. Starting in a week or two, we will put out a bi-weekly report that includes all those things I reviewed in my column plus all those things I didn't. The basic charts will be:
1) Who has been offered
2) Who is on the big recruiting board
3) Who is moving up and down (like the old Duane Long "Stock Report")
4) What's new in recruiting
5) Who are the Top 10 still in the state of Ohio (relevant to the Buckeyes)
6) Who are the Top 10 out-of-state (relevant to the Buckeyes)
7) Who is visiting, when.
This should be easy to read (yes, big font), comprehensive (well, at least everything we know) and collaborative (everyone is mandated to work on it!). Plus, we will have it mesh with the Scout/Bucknuts recruiting database for, perhaps, the first time in history. Check it out! Let us know…
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An expert is someone from out of state…I referenced our great staff of recruiting wonks and I will put up our national people and "local" group against anyone anywhere. And they can have their choice of weapons…
On the national front, we team with Scout.com and work with Jamie Newberg, Allan Wallace, Chris Pool and Bob Lichtenfels. Additionally, we utilize the reports from the more-than-100 other Scout.com sites. Occasionally, we will take issue with the judgments of these guys (like last year, for instance…), but overall – there is no better national recruiting network anywhere.
Our state guys is where we really shine. Duane Long is simply the best – the only talent evaluator who actually, well…evaluates talent! He talks to coaches, breaks down film and compares and contrasts. Yes, it is his full-time job. Also in the stable, we have Gary Housteau and Bill Greene covering the football-mad northeast Ohio region. We have Coach Bill Conley, who knows more about recruiting than almost everyone else forgot. And we have Steve Helwagen, Dave Biddle and Kirk Larrabee calling the kids and contacting coaches and the other experts in compiling our data.
Finally, a plug for our basketball recruiting "staff". His name is Kyle Lamb. Nobody does it better. Nobody has better insights and nobody gets the truth out quicker or cleaner. What a great year to be in the basketball know, no?
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If it's not breaking (news), we'll fix it…Some of you might think that the real "breaking news" about Connor Smith is that he is headed to OSU. The great sub-plot is that we got one away from Michigan Assistant Coach, err…I mean Colerain Head Coach Kerry Coombs. Coach Coombs is the guy that sent BJ Askew to the Wolves a few years back and then sent Mister Simpson up there last year and Cobrani Mixon this year. And each year, he takes the entire Colerain team (that's right – Ohio's best) to a MICHIGAN camp! So there was some dis-ease about Smith but he came through in true Buckeye glory in the end. Now on to fighting over Tyler Moeller…
But, no, the real breaking news about Connor was the breaking of the story itself. Our own Dave Biddle broke this "scoop" and he had to be unusually persistent to pull that off. To give you some insight to the hard work behind-the-scenes: Dave called the Smiths a week ago Tuesday to set up a Bucknuts Radio Hour interview, in anticipation of Connor making his decision. Mrs. Smith said Connor was going to decide Friday (!) and please call back then. We were very appreciative and Dave honored her request. That's when the fun began.
Dave called back that Friday as instructed. He told Steve Helwagen then, "I just talked with Connor Smith's mom and she said, "He is getting close to a decision but not yet". She told me to call back tomorrow (Saturday) and they would have an answer for us." Dave then called back Saturday, as they requested, and did his best not to seem like a stalker. Or a pest. Mrs. Smith handled the call: "Connor still hasn't made a decision. Please call back Monday. It's close between two schools but I can't say which ones".
On Sunday, Dave broke ranks and called anyway. As he reported to Bucknuts staff: "His Mom told me to call Monday but I decided – what the hell - I will check in today. JACKPOT!!!"
Yes, Dave got the story and got a radio interview and got the support of the Smith family by being both professional and persistent. Now, it seemed from that vague and tenuous dialogue that Connor's decision could have gone either way, right? No. Read and listen to his post-announcement comments. Connor was a Buckeye all the way – since he was a little kid! And you wonder why we stumble trying to figure out where these kids are headed. And what they're thinking…
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Counting scholarship openings…They say that everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it. And you can study the weather for the past decade, but it doesn't seem to do much for predicting it for the next decade. The parallels here? Recruiting is about as dynamic as the weather. It moves in seasons and it moves mysteriously and just when you think that it's safe to predict something based upon past incidents, well…you are right about half the time.
I think on these things as I think of all the predictions, projections and outright guesses on how many scholarships will be available each year so that we can then speculate on the number of new commitments for that particular recruiting class. But speculation on open spots is dynamic, indeed. And – at least for the past few seasons – the openings grow as the season goes on. Why?
Well, let's divide the past "growth of scholarship" reasons into these arbitrary categories. Interestingly, sometimes a disappearing player can fall into multiple categories if he's truly a special case. Check it out (these are just examples and not the complete list, of course…):
Transferred out: David Priestly, Austin Moherman, Rick McFadden, Sammy Maldonado, JaJa Riley, Jamal Muhammad
Career-ending injuries: Jefferson Kelley, Angelo Chattams, Jesse Kline, Adam Olds, Richard McNutt, Jason Ott
Grades: Dareus Hiley, Reggie Smith, Curtis Crosby, Paris Long, Maurice Clarett
Criminal Behavior: Marcus Cooper, Louis Irizzary, Ira Guilford, Maurice Clarett
Bizarre Behavior: Paul Breed, Andrew Lee, Maurice Clarett
Disappeared in the middle of the night: Ryan Cook, Julius Yeast, Kelton Lindsay, Maurice Clarett
Left early for the NFL: Derek Ross, Andy Katzenmoyer, David Boston, Chris Gamble, Darnell Sanders, Maurice Clarett
This year OSU lost 3-5 already and there will probably be others. EJ Underwood fits into the "Grades" and "Transferred Out" categories. Brandon Maupin fell out in the "Grades" category. RJ Coleman has a career-ending injury. Jonathan Skeete appears to be a victim of "Criminal Behavior". And Redgie Arden made it into almost every category listed above other than the NFL. Plus, there is the very real chance that Santonio Holmes and/or Ashton Youboty will slide into the "Left Early" group…
There are special drop-outs, as well, like Joe Bauserman who selected baseball over football. But, all in all, you can use a rule-of-thumb that 15% of the planned schollies are not used due to one type of attrition or another. We are projecting that there will be 20-21 kids signed this year based on the current scholarship inventory. Stay tuned…
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Lee Tilley and modifying other adverbs…Yes, "lee" is an adverb and it modifies thoughts and verbs such as "strangely" or "nicely" or "justly" or…well, you get the idea. And when your name begins and ends with an adverb like Lee Tilley's does, you get in the way of a lot of verbs. And a lot of questions. Questions like: Does this kid really have 40 Division I offers? Why isn't Ohio State interested? And, where is he going to play next year, Springfield South or Wayne High School?
Sometimes, such as in the well-documented Ronnie "Taz" Williams case from last year, Ohio State coaches simply don't want a kid despite the uproar from knowledgeable public message board posters. The coaching staff at OSU was unimpressed with Tilley's tapes and questioned the number of offers he has received and/or why he received them. Yet, those-in-the-know on the Bucknuts message boards (and on lesser sites worldwide…) think that the staff went into brain spasms because they are certainly overlooking an "obvious" find right under their noses in Springfield, Ohio.
I am not picking on Lee Tilley here. He seems like a nice – and large – kid. I am reflecting back to all the times a prep "star" gets an alleged big offer from a big school and suddenly everyone else is offering based mostly on that first supposed offer. Don't believe everything you read or what someone else reported about someone else reading. This recruiting stuff can drive you nuts. And just like adverbs and Mr. Tilley - it probably needs to be modified, as well…
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The recruiting year, so far…I mentioned on the Bucknuts Radio Hour this week that Connor Smith was our seventh overall commitment, and the sixth commitment in the Top 100 on the Scout.com list! That's impressive. Now if you want to jostle about provincialism and regional chauvinism, I could point out that the "Other" national service only has us in on 2-3 Top 100 players. But that's their loss. Now that we are part of the Fox conglomerate, well…whom are you going to believe?
Meanwhile, back here at Scout: Looking at just the remaining uncommitted Ohio players on their current Top 100 list, the Buckeyes have an excellent shot at Ray Small, Jeff Cumberland, Thaddeus Gibson and Aaron Brown. And that doesn't even count Robert Rose who was inexplicably left off the list. I say they will get three of those official four and that gives the Buckeyes nine Top 100 players – all from Ohio!
What about the out-of-staters, who traditionally break our hearts toward the end of the recruiting process? Well, the Buckeyes are in the final mix for national Top 100 guys including Allen Bradford, Vidal Hazelton, Micah Johnson, Konrad Reuland, Antwine Perez, David Ausberry, Navorro Bowman and Jeremiha Hunter. From that group, I say they get maybe one. Yes, experience is a harsh mistress.
We are then talking about a class of twenty or so recruits, in which half of the recruits are amongst the best 100 players in the nation. And they have those recruits at nearly every position. Say what you want, but you have to like the way this whole recruiting deal is shaping up for 2006.
And if you really want to say what you want, say it to Mr. Bucknuts by e-mailing him at MrBucknuts@yahoo.com