The Best From The Country

While most of their key players hail from inside the state lines, for the Buckeyes to be successful they must also land some of the best talent from across the country. In the first of a series, find out how the Ohio State coaching staff looks at out-of-state recruiting. takes a look at out-of-state recruiting at Ohio State. In Part One, we examine how the coaches have to do to lure out-of-state kids to Columbus.

Ohio State University was primarily built to serve the residents of the state of Ohio, so it's no surprise that the majority of the Buckeyes' roster features players who are natives of the Buckeye State.

And while those players from in-state are exposed to the Scarlet and Gray practically from birth, the coaching staff has to do a little bit more work to lure those highly touted, out-of-state recruits to Columbus.

Just ask OSU recruiting coordinator John Peterson.

"They don't have quite the media exposure that the kids in-state do," he said. "It's easier for (in-state kids) to get to our campus more than once, whereas an out-of-state kid, you may only have one chance to get him on your campus and you have to make that a meaningful experience when you do get them here."

On the latest OSU roster, 36 of the 113 players hail from outside the borders of the state of Ohio. Some of them are big-name players such as linebacker James Laurinaitis, who hails from Minnesota, and cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, a New Jersey native.

But a quick look at the projected sparkplugs for the Buckeyes' 2007 offense has a decidedly Ohio tint to it. The four main cogs – quarterback Todd Boeckman, tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells and wideouts Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline – all are from Ohio.

It's no surprise, then, that Jim Tressel's approach is to start by keeping the top talent from the state from leaving the state. Think of it as a box being drawn about the state limits – that's how the coaches see it.

"Our first priority is to put up the borders around the state and get the best players from Ohio," Peterson said Feb. 1 on National Signing Day. "But our coaches also have their geographic areas and do a great job. We want the best possible talent no matter where it is."

Pursuing and wooing that talent, regardless of location, has become easier in recent years. With OSU frequently being featured in nationally televised games and annually near the top of the rankings, prep stars from around the country today are much more informed about the Buckeyes than in previous years.

Of course, that's not always the case.

When asked what he knew about OSU prior to going there, Jenkins said "Nothing. I didn't know too much about it, I just knew it was a great tradition here and a big football state, but other than that I didn't know too much about it."

For the coaching staff to land players like Jenkins, Peterson said it is vital to secure an official visit from the player. Once exposed to the atmosphere that is Ohio State football, Peterson said the coaches feel they have a much better chance of landing a verbal commitment.

"We believe once we get kids on campus and they get to meet the people and the tradition and the facilities, it speaks for itself," he said. "There's only so much you can do as far as mailings and those things, but Ohio State's about people – it always has been and always will be.

"Our goal is to get them on campus and to show them the quality of people they have at Ohio State."

While Peterson serves as the recruiting coordinator, each coach on the staff is responsible for a specific region across the country. The approach might be different than most other schools, but the relationships the different coaches develop with the players.

And it makes the critical landing of out-of-state players more possible.

"We want to bring in the best kids that we can that are the best at their position, the best character and all the rest," Tressel said. "When you get a chance to get a guy like James Laurinaitis or a lot of our out-of-state guys, it's crucial."

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