11W Recruiting Notebook

By Alex on October 5, 2011 at 2:05p
Camp Randall bound?Where is Jordan Diamond headed?

Lost in all the hysteria over what is turning out to be the darkest year in Ohio State football history, is the fact that there may be a very exciting future lying ahead. That future may (very likely) or may not consist of a new football coach, but one thing that will certainly be included is a new group of talent from the recruiting classes of 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Now more than ever, recruiting is extremely important for Ohio State. Forget the output on the field, the damage control needs to be done off the field. Florida State, Miami, Alabama, Michigan, and others could tell you how the stuff that happens outside of the gridiron can affect recruiting and, thus, your future on the field. It is impreartive that the bleeding stop now and the powers that be at Ohio State hold on to the standstill going on in the recruiting world before the negative spiral takes its course and the momentum of a new sheriff in town comes too late.

That being said, we bring you to this week's edition of the 11W recruiting notebook. In this feature we'll talk about the players that may be responsible for bringing the Bucks back to the top, news on a potential player that Jim Bollman's successor could be working with, and some hardwood news. Join us after the jump for the latest in the Buckeye recruiting world.

Friday Night Lights

Thanks to Matthew Hager and some other contributors, we can bring you another week of what went on around Ohio High School football in the past week.

Warren Ball rebounded from a poor performance last week, to amass 171 yards and 2 TDs on 27 carries in a 27-10 win over St. Charles. It's going to be a battle until the end to see whether Ball or Bri'onte Dunn are rated higher in the final rankings, and both backs (more on Dunn later) are certainly making their case.

Pickerington Central was spurred by a Roger Lewis 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and took that momentum all the way to beating Gahanna Lincoln 28-7. Jacoby Boren also played a stellar game for the Tigers, as he continued to star on both the offensive and defensive line for Pick Central.

One strong punter"Frank E" made a bang in his return

Across town, Pickerington North defeated Reynoldsburg 41-6 in an easy victory. Stars of the game were 2013 prospect Jake Butt, who caught two touchdowns at tight end and also recorded two sacks and three tackles for a loss at defensive end. Buckeye commit Patrick Elflein contributed as well, opening up holes all night on the offensive line and returning an interception for a touchdown while on defense. 

Frank Epitropoulos was out three games due to surgery on his thumb, but returned to action on Friday in a 33-0 Upper Arlington victory (their 600th) over previously undefeated Hilliard Darby. "Frank E" caught 4 passes for 84 yards, including nabbing 2 TD grabs of 53 and 11 yards. The super athlete could end up playing receiver, safety, punter, or some combination of the three at OSU and it was good to see him get back into action for the Golden Bears.

Roger Lewis wasn't the only one to take a kick to the house this week, as Najee Murray helped Steubenville to a 41-0 win over East Liverpool with a 95 yard return on the opening kick. Murray also helped the 6-0 Big Red hold East Liverpool to just 69 yards on the offensive side of the football.

In a tough game against rival Olentangy Liberty, Josh Perry scored two rushing touchdowns in leading Olentangy to a 13-7 win. Perry had 91 yards on 24 carries, as well as played a stellar linebacker to help his team get back to .500 on the season.

Finally, Luke Roberts ran for 192 yards and 2 TDs in a 28-7 Lancaster win over Grove City. Roberts, who will play linebacker for the Buckeyes, showed impressive athleticism, running through and around defenders on his two touchdown runs of 40 and 54 yards.

Mr. Football Ohio?

You'll notice we talked about Warren Ball above in FNL, but left out Bri'onte Dunn. That's because the super back from Canton Glen Oak (6-0, 3-0) deserved his own segment this week after a gutsy performance in a 16-7 win against rival Canton McKinley.

Dunn, coming off an in injury in his previous game, rushed for 17 times for 73 yards, including a TD run to put Glen Oak ahead 9-7. The most impressive thing about Dunn's outing was that the touchdown, as well as 15 carries and 70 yards all came in the 4th quarter after the big back was limited for most of the game, but stepped up most with his team trailing 7-3 entering the final stretch of the game.

Dunn has put up eye boggling numbers this season, but its effort like this that puts a player over the top when it comes to the recruiting rankings. It also won't hurt his candidacy for Mr. Football in Ohio, an award he'd certainly like to add to his mantle. 

Check out video of Dunn's game against McKinley here.

No DiamonD IN ThE Rough For Bucks?

It's no secret that the Ohio State offensive line is thin. The Bucks lose three seniors after this year in Mike Adams, Mike Brewster, and JB Shugarts, making a unit that consists of just seven rotating players this year looking even bleeker for 2012.

While Andrew Norwell, Jack Mewhort, Brian Bobek, Corey Linsley, and Marcus Hall seems like a decent line, the coaches are looking for more players in the 2012 and 2013 classes to come in and play right away. The biggest name on their recruiting board is Jordan Diamond, who appeared to have OSU, Wisconsin, and Iowa at the top of his lsit, but things may have changed after his visit to Camp Randall this past weekend. 

I am hearing Diamond's trip up north went extremely well. Not only did he get to see Wisconsin's offensive line manhandle Nebraska in a 48-17 win, but he also got to experience the great atmosphere that the Badgers fans bring for a night game in Madison. Factor in the recent success of UW linemen in the NFL, coupled with the close proximity of the school to his Chicago home, and it almost feels like a match made in heaven for Diamon and Bret Bielema.

Don't count out the other B1G o-line factory in Iowa, or the Buckeyes just yet. There's a reason the Hawkeyes have been on Diamond's list from the start, and the Bucks obviously provide this stud prospect with the opportunity to compete for a starting tackle job as a true freshman. If Urban Meyer or another big name coach comes on board, OSU's chances can get even better, but either way it looks like a Diamond decision is still a little while off.

Hoosier Daddy

Buckeye fans may be saying that to fans of the schools in Indiana if they can pull off one of the great upsets in recent basketball recruiting history.

Gary Harris, unanimously regarded as one of the top basketball players in the entire nation, seemed to be down to a final list of Indiana, Kentucky, Purdue, and Michigan State. He said he'd be taking official visits to all four schools, but left his fifth visit up for grabs. That visit may go to the Buckeyes.

Ohio State was originally in the thick of the race for Harris, but things cooled a bit when scholarship numbers seemed to favor a big man coming to Columbus. Sully's successor may still be on the way, but apparently something has caused the staff to rethink their interest in Harris, as Thad Matta paid a visit to the star's Hamilton Southeastern High School on Tuesday morning

Now don't get too excited, it's still a longshot to beat Harris's four favorites, but with Thad Matta's recent success of putting freshman in the line-up and then right to the NBA, don't be surprised if Harris shows a good amount of interest in checking out what Ohio State has to offer. A deadly off-ball guard could be just what this team needs in 2012-2013, so this is definitely a story to keep an eye on.


Comments Show All Comments

Baroclinicity's picture

Forgive me if this has been covered elsewhere, but where are things at with Adolphus Washington?

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Alex's picture

Still just in waiting mode... Bucks are at the top of his list and as long as OSU doesn't get HAMMERED (and I mean HAMMERED) by the NCAA, I think you will see Washington and Stanford be Columbus bound

Maestro's picture

Come on Diamond. Once Russell Wilson is gone, Wisky is back to the old Badgers.

vacuuming sucks

Maestro's picture

Impressed by Roberts' numbers. Is Grove City terrible? Watching him on film I just didn't see that kind of athleticism, although he clearly knows how to fill a hole...........wow that is a little awkward to type.

vacuuming sucks

Buckeyejason's picture

Its hard to get excited about recruiting at this point in time thinking about Bollman still being on staff.


jenks's picture

Why aren't recruits creeped out by Bielema like I am?

M Man's picture

Florida State, Miami, Alabama, Michigan, and others could tell you how the stuff that happens outside of the gridiron can effect recruiting and, thus, your future on the field.

Very, very true.  (I think "affect" is the better word for your usage, however.)

Although I don't like seeing "Michigan" in that lineup.  It's like a list consisting of "fraud, murder, assault... and jaywalking."  Which, in Michigan's case, just serves to prove the truth of Alex's point.

jenks's picture

I think the difference is, Ohio is loaded with talented HS players that dream their entire lives of playing for OSU. I know that sounds arrogant, but I think its true. Like the post I just read (before hitting reply) about 3* OL that want to come, attracting the 4* and 5* talent may be mroe difficult, but lots of 3* and 4* won't drop off much (4* are hard to classify). Florida State and Miami have to compete with each other and UF, Michigan gets their talent out of state from guys who grow up OSU fans, and Alabama doesn't have the population that Ohio does. So the effect on recruiting may show, but I don't think the dropoff will be as big.

M Man's picture

That could be.  You make some good points on that.  I will say, as I have before, that our NCAA investigation in Ann Arbor, as efficient and clean as it was, was still a huge distraction to the program.  We heard from some high-quality recruits and their parents, first hand, that things like NCAA sanctions and coaching changes were weighing heavily on them.

I frankly don't understand why "NCAA sanctions" would be much of a factor for any kid who was lucky enough to get a scholarship offer to one of these great football programs.  What real impact would most "sanctions" have on players who really wanted to play at a certain school?  It's not like they are pros in the last year of free agency, looking for one last shot at a championship.  (Like Russell Wilson.) 

But I do understand why a possible head coaching change would make a difference to a four-year scholarship athlete.  In fact, I have a hard time understanding why any kid would commit to any program where that was in doubt.  I can understand some legacy kids committing, no matter what.  Like Stan Edwards' son Braylon committing to Michigan.  Or a Kirk Herbstreit following in his father's footsteps to captain the Buckeyes.  Outside of those special cases, I would think that a lot of recruits would, and will, have a hard time committing to a largely unknown situation.

Our AD David Brandon once said that he spent much more time on Michigan's NCAA investigation (and he came in when the investigation was halfway-done), than he spent as a CEO on a billion-dollar IPO.

jenks's picture

I know it is and will be a distraction, but with OSU's strong fanbase, strong recruiting ground, and lack of instate rivals, I don't think they will be hurt as bad.

I'd also add that while the NCAA is a large source of the problems, so is coaching and leadership. RR would have failed regardless of sanctions; Shula would have failed as well; Kiffen is worse than awful; Bowden is the only great coach, but he was old and past his prime during that time so even that is up in the air. OSU is certainly susceptible to this as well.

And I wouldn't hold my breath on a Herbstreit coming to OSU.

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

There are 3 or 4 "other" OL, kids that are rated 3*'s I believe, that are interested in OSU.  Despite these kids acknowledging that would almost commit on the spot to OSU, OSU has not offered them. I am the eggman, they are the eggmen....

Read my entire screen name....

JLP36's picture

Let Fickell hire an offensive staff, which is completely non-existent now, and then judge him.  He is coaching without 99.9% of his offensive output from last year, most of the losses unexpected, and the loss of the offensive coaching staff.  Jim Bollman is his OC through no choice of his own.  You don't scrap a program this strong because Jim Bollman and Nic from nowhere cannot coach a freshman QB, who everyone still expects to be good.  All of this "fire the coach" talk is hugely counter productive on all fronts.  Fire the AD.  Fire the OC.  Preferable before today's practice..


M Man's picture

Rodriguez had a few problems at Michigan.  Those problems were probably fewer in number than anyone would guess; the list begins and mostly ends with the Detroit Free Press (wherein all of the NCAA issues arose), Defensive Coordinator/s, and factional infighting.  And those problems, while few in number, were probably much more severe than anyone would guess.

In my own mind, the worst of those problems by far was the issue of a Defensive Coordinator, and Michigan's inability to convince Jeff Casteel to leave WVU and come to Ann Arbor.  There are lots of stories.  Some of the stories are about money.  Michigan historically didn't pay its DC's much more than what Casteel was making at WVU.  Michigan, and OSU, are similar in that regard.  Michigan changed that with the hiring of Hoke (for less than what Rodriguez was making) and Greg Mattison, for approximately three times what Greg Robinson had been making.  It is a very sore point among some the the Michigan blogosphere; that Michigan never wrote the check to get Jeff Casteel to follow Rodriguez to Ann Arbor.  There's more to that story, no doubt, but the point for OSU's program, if they were to ask David Brandon about his own 2011 HFC search, is that top-flight football assistants and coordinators cost a lot of money these days. 

Bollman, as I understand it, is getting Greg Robinson-type money. And... well I'll leave the rest to 11W.

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

It truly is amazing that programs refuse to pay support staff.  It's like an insurance company that refuses to pay for preventative therapies.  

Read my entire screen name....

AltaBuck's picture

Do you think part of the reason for Jeff Casteel's marginal offer was due to the anticipated costs associated with RRod and his WVU contract situation? I cannot remember the numbers off of the top of my head but they were in the millions.  I can see RRod trying to lobby the powers that be for more DC pay for Casteel and those powers telling RRod that there is no money left.

I am Groot - Groot

M Man's picture

No; I think that (buyout money) would have had mostly nothing to do with it.  I think that a smart money man (Bill Martin) just held to a vision of standard pay-rates in the Conference.  Martin is a guy who loves his consultants.  They probably told him exactly what OSU's coordinators got paid.  And certainly neither Martin nor Rodriguez foresaw the defensive nightmares to come, without a high-quality DC.

My understanding of the story with Casteel is this (short version).  RR asked most of his guys to come to Michigan with him; including Casteel.  Casteel said yes.  Then, WVU announces Bill Stewart is getting the job.  Casteel thinks about it, knows that he is still very welcom in Morgantown, and decides that all things being equal, he'll stay where he is.  (Michigan's mistake at that time was letting 'all things be equal.')  For perfectly legit, decent, family-oriented reasons, Casteel decides to stay put.

So RR gets Scott Schafer to be Michigan's DC.  But by the end of a disastrous 2008, things are in disarray.  Schafer is fired.  Another overture is made to Casteel.  Unknown what the offer is, but at that time Bill Martin is still AD.  Casteel says no thanks again.

So RR gets Greg Robinson.  With a great resume for an assistant, but a lot of questions.  It's another disaster; much worse on defense than on the exciting offensive side of the ball.  More talk of getting Casteel, if only RR can just keep his job.  But when push comes to shove, a big choice has to be made; double-down on RR, with an extension to him and a big new contract to Casteel, or just end the experiment and call it quits with RR.

AltaBuck's picture

Makes Sense....Thanks M Man.

I am Groot - Groot

Buckforlife's picture

Middletown's Jalin Marshall ran 11 times for 226 yards and 4 TD's last week.

No relation to OSUFORLIFE...

toledobuckeyefanjim's picture

Forgive me about getting excited like all of you, but if 4 and 5-star football players out of high school are going to play like they did last week against Michigan State, then we might as well recruit MAC kids. Then we can coach them up with the new coaching staff that will surely be in place next spring. I'm tired of reading all the raves about these kids only to see them play like high  schoolers on an 0-10 team. Are these great OLs playing against 200-pound kids every week? Hell, they better play well if that's their weekly opposition. I'm just not sold on them like you are. You can put 60 so-called high school superstars on the OSU roster but if you have 2 or 3 Bollmans on the staff, you will get a 6-6 team from it. How does Boise State keep winning big almost every week with their 3-star kids? Kellen Moore wasn't sought by 100 schools. Maybe the Buckeyes need to take a page from them.

BuddhaBuck's picture


I'm going to pile on and say it's somewhat analogous to playing NCAA Football '11 against your friend. You're a solid, 15-year experienced gamer. Your friend is a 2-year novice who doesn't even own a console. You can win 42-6 with a 2- or 3-star school v. 5-star school.


Don't text while driving.

Indy_Buck87's picture

I live two miles away from HSE....Harris is a stud for sure. I see him going to IU. But I would not count Matta out just yet as he has great ties in Indiana.

I know of only two things that are infinite, space and human stupidity.....and I'm not sure about space". Albert Einstein.