Meyer's Men

By David Sokol on August 14, 2012 at 3:00p

Oh, how things have changed since Urban Meyer has come to town.

It's been a little more than eight months since the new Ohio State coach took the reins in Columbus and as we approach the new season, it's a good time to reminisce on how the 2012 recruiting class was saved and actually made out to be absolutely better than expected.

Meyer knows how importing recruiting is to the game

Before we deep dive into the stars, statistics and scenarios, let me point out something.

The Ohio State scandal will forever be an event that is a dark mark on the program's storied tradition, but one quote still stands out to me to this day.

A friend (actually alumnus and big fan of another B1G School) pointed out a few weeks after the Meyer hiring:

"It's kind of sickening that Ohio State can go through such a major scandal and make out better than they did before. Seriously, their all-world coach lied and got fired, then OSU went out and got an even bigger named coach. They didn't even 'go out' to get him, he came to them"

Tough luck, Big Ten fans.

It's true. How many other schools in the country can have a scandal and come out on top? Indiana basketball took nearly five seasons to recover from Kelvin Sampson lying to the NCAA, SMU football took decades to recover, and whatever happens with Penn State remains a question mark, but it'll certainly be a long recovery period.

When Jim Tressel resigned at the end of last spring, a lot of questions and doubt circled the Ohio State program. One of the first items of business that surrounds a football program after a coaching change is recruiting.

Interim coach Luke Fickell was able to secure a few of the commitments, leaving a solid core that Tressel left behind in Kyle Kalis, Bri'onte Dunn, Warren Ball, Jacoby Boren, Frank Epitropoulos, Blake Thomas, Luke Roberts, Josh Perry, De'van Bogard, Tyvis Powell, Pat Elfien, Najee Murray, Mike Thomas and Cardale Jones, but players quickly felt insecure about the Buckeyes' coaching situation. Of the few commits, Cleveland OL Kyle Kalis was the headline recruit and he eventually decided that the uncertainty was too much and changed his loyalty to coach Brady Hoke and Michigan.

Although dozens of players' interests remained high in Ohio State, it was the instability and unknown that kept them from building a respected 2012 class.

In order to play, you need players. In order to win, you need some good players. In order to win it all, you need the best players.

When Coach Meyer signed on in November, the Buckeyes would be on their way.

As soon as Coach Meyer signed on the dotted line and stated his goal to make the great state of Ohio proud, things changed.

Interest levels across the board spiked and the following months would be as eventful as they had ever been in Ohio State off-season history.

Negativity from the national media in regard to Tressel and Tat-gate quickly shifted to excitement and the realization that Ohio State will be back, sooner than expected. Top recruits expressed interest in Ohio State and Meyer. Meyer was instantly labeled one of the sport's rock stars and he used that reputation to help his new school.

Noah Spence could have gone anywhere in the country

Before Meyer was official, there was much speculation around the community that the deal had been done.

It was an even larger tell-tale sign of what was to come when Cincinnati DE and former five star recruit Adolphus Washington had expressed interest to commit to Ohio State and hinted that Coach Meyer would be a great guy to be the coach. Washington committed a day before Meyer was official, increasing speculation from the outside.

Buckeye Nation was pretty positive what was to come the following day.

Soon, what is known as the domino effect, commenced in the 2012 recruiting class.

Florida WR Riquan Southward finalized his recruitment at the end of November, followed by a new theme of 2012: poaching from rival schools.

Tommy Schutt, a top DT committed to Penn State, decided that Meyer and Ohio State offered more and quickly changed his commitment. Then, a handful of other major prospects would be taken from other schools. Ohio DE Se'von Pittman, a Michigan State commit, became a Buckeye. Later, LB Camren Williams and CB Armani Reeves would later do the same, decommitting from PSU and opting to be Buckeyes. Taylor Decker, an OL from Ohio, was committed to Notre Dame and switched his pledge once Meyer and staff showed interest. The last poach came on National Signing Day in February when then-Wisconsin commit and Ohio native OL Kyle Dodson made the switch at the last minute in amazing fashion.

Catch up on everything you need to know ahead of the season kickoff.

Besides poaching recruits from other schools, Meyer was able to win them over naturally. LB and ATH David Perkins, who was thought to be a Notre Dame lock, fell in love with Ohio State and would also succumb to the Meyer persuasion. DE Noah Spence, arguably the top player in the 2012 class, chose Ohio State over favorite Penn State. Colorado OL Joey O' Connor would also choose Ohio State, helping to add to the thin Buckeye O-line.

Despite drawing in new commits, Meyer had to work hard to maintain those players who were loyal to Tressel and Fickell.

When the NCAA handed Ohio State a one-year bowl ban, much more uncertainty began to rise out of the now stellar recruiting class.

In particular, Bri'onte Dunn seemed to be becoming more and more tied to Michigan. Many thought Dunn would follow the Kyle Kalis path and end up at Michigan with his cousin and '13 commit Dymonte Thomas. His relationship was later squashed and he would reaffirm his commitment to Ohio State. De'van Bogard was rumored to be in favor ($) of switching his commitment to USC, which was halted.

When it was all said and done with the Letters of Intent all confirmed, Meyer and staff ended up with a top-5 class, a class the many thought would not crack the top-25 before the hiring. Meyer recruits with a purpose. He wants to recruit players that are ready to play at the next level and that's exactly what they'll do.

Unlike in past years when upperclassmen got playing time almost by default, under the Meyer system, the best players will play. That means that a freshman can easily beat out a three-year letter winner, if he's better.

This season, plenty of freshman will contribute significantly to Ohio State.

With Jordan Hall's injury, it can be expected that Bri'onte Dunn will get several carries per game, Noah Spence is slotted to play a significant amount of passing downs at the LEO position, and Taylor Decker will most likely see significant time at right tackle (unless the Reid Fragel experiment holds up well).

Adolphus Washington is learning from John Hankins on how to be a great DT and should see significant time; DB De'van Bogard was the first freshman to lose his "black stripe" and could help add depth to the thin slate of defensive backs (at the STAR); WR Mike Thomas was the star of the spring game and will immediately help a thin WR core; and the staff is in love with David Perkins and the athlete should be an immediate contributor wherever they play him.

In addition, LB Jamal Marcus could be that first guy off the bench to fill in at linebacker, while ATH Najee Murray could potentially be the slot wideout and compete for snaps at defensive back as well. Not to mention, Se'Von Pittman, Armani Reeves, Camren Williams, Tommy Schutt and others are pushing the current starters to be even better players.

As we all can tell, Meyer recruits guys that are ready to make an immediate impact and play. He didn't fail to bring in those players in the 2012 class.

Just wait until the 2013 class closes and the 2014 commitments start raining in. It'll be another domino effect, so get ready.


Comments Show All Comments

timdogdad's picture

the bottom line is that ohio has the most resources by far in the midwest and the east when it comes to football players and coaching talent.  urb takes his home state job and can recruit the in state and out of state talent.   players have had to migrate to other programs to play. not just scum but how many oh players are on msu.   so big 10-  deal with it.       

buckeyedude's picture

All of the MAC teams recruit Ohio hard too. They get their fair share of talented players that the B1G teams miss on. Ben Roethlisberger(Miami), off the top of my head. Maybe some of you others can think of some more. Randy Moss(Marshall-when they played in the MAC)



faux_maestro's picture

Randy Moss was from West Virginia. He went to Free Shoes University, got in trouble, transfered to Marshall.

Your mom told me she wants a Dicken Cidar.

OSUBias's picture

The quality and frequency of these season preview articles are fantastic! Great work, staff.

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

gumtape's picture

Not that I am complaining but... Does anyone else see am unfair advantage for our Buckeyes with the full access ESPNU camp profile? Can you imagine a recruit watching this and not loving the exposure? Is this a result of Meyer having ties from spending one year at the four-letter network?

High and tight boo boo

beserkr29's picture

Probably doesn't hurt that Meyer has that prior relationship, but I know Bama had the same kind of program a couple of years ago.  Take all the exposure you get.  Someone else on this site (I forget who) mentioned that the Ohio State brand isn't quite what you'd expect it to be, given on the field results.  This will rectify that, I think.  Should be great and a definite boost to the Buckeyes as a whole!

tennbuckeye19's picture

Considering that Texas has the Longhorn Network with ESPN, which I don't have and have never seen, but sounds like a 24/7 infomercial for the University of Texas, I'd say a week of one hour shows devoted to OSU is not an unfair advantage in comparison. But Ohio State is not the first team to have such a feature from their fall camp. 
I think the show came about because of the storylines of Buckeye football from the past 18 months or so, you know: The tattoo stuff, Tressel's exit, the disaster of a season in 2011, the hiring of Urban Meyer, the sanctions, and finally, the rebirth of OSU in 2012 under Meyer. 

Poison nuts's picture

Whatever it stems from - I certainly hope it's an advantage. Meyer being the coach that he is & being on ESPN for a year played a part. The state of our program prior to his arrival played a part. I'm just glad they are doing it & to any & all recruits watching - I hope the show makes them want to go to OSU...nothing unfair about it. 

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Nice piece, David.
Adolphus Washington is getting time at DT? Isn't he like 6'6"? I know that he's a beast, but you wouldn't normally see that wingspan inside in a 4-3 would you?
Now, as a 3-4 DE, he might be prototypical, and the Buckeyes kind of play a hybrid 4-3/3-4, so maybe they're using him in multiple ways?

David Sokol's picture

Yes, word on the street he has been taking tips from Hankins on playing DT. Hankins is showing him how to be a better run stopper and Dolph is showing Hankins how to be a better pass rusher.

Nappy's picture

This makes me as giddy as a school girl.

I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face

Run_Fido_Run's picture

I just glanced at the roster and, lo and behold, both Hankins and - now - Washington are listed at 6'3.
When Washington was being recruited, and when he was playing bball, he was listed at 6'6, I think.
Not to be conspiratorial, but any chance that this update is a reverse of what we usually see - when the 6'2 WR is listed as 6'4? Here, they decide Dolph is a better DT, so put down his real height?

David Sokol's picture

It's very possible.

Adolphus is listed at 6'6 here, 6'4 here, and 6'4 here.

I'm going to guess that when the team went through their bio-metric testing, he was actually about 6'3 on flat ground with no shoes.

Despite all this, the guy is a freakin' beast. I've seen him play in person and he flat out destroys people.

MJB15's picture

Last year Taft played on ESPN against a team from Maryland, can't remember the team's name but they had Eddie Goldman(FSU) and quite a few other prospects, and Adolphus basically kept them in the game by himself. Which was more impressive being a DL instead of a skill player. I'm not surprised him getting snaps at DT. He is just a freak athlete. Good read.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

He'll look a lot bigger to the offensive players!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Buckeyejason's picture

If I had to guess Id say he's a solid 6'4". If he's really the 289lbs that they list him at I would think he'd look a lot more stalky/stumpy or whatever the word Is at 6'3". To compare that size his body would look more like Garret Goebel for example. 
Another thing I don't understand and I know I'll just get the "coaches know what they're doing" comments..but why is Bennett playing end and Washington playing tackle when their bodys and strengths on the field seem to fit the opposite. Bennett is more of a smaller quicker explosive tackle and Washington is that prototypical tall, long,lean Strongside DE..especially showing his dominance at DE in the army game? Just seems ass backwards to me.


cinserious's picture

When Bennett plays end, the only thing i can think of is they are grooming him to become a John Simon type. Someone who is versatile to play both. Simon naturally was a beast at tackle but the staff liked his skills at end as well, i can see Bennet fitting that same mold. The staff likes his pass rushing skills. A for adolphus, the staff seems to want to make him another versatile type, which is cool considering he's so young and they will soon find out what he can do best. Maybe another Cameron Hayward, who knows.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

OSUBias's picture

They did Oklahoma last year, so no I don't think it's Urbs connections. As usual with ESPN, it's about what will get watched: OSU, ND, Texas, OU, and the SEC. They probably can't do ND, but I'm sure they'll do a lot of the other big time schools with a fanatical fanbase.

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

ccollins0325's picture

This is a good time to thank everyone at 11w! The staff and the members.
Each year it felt like I'd have to learn a bunch of new names during the season, figure out who was who, how good they are, etc. Now, instead of looking to see who they are, I can just look forward to seeing what they can do.
Thanks to all of you, I feel fully prepared for the season and have a wealth of knowledge at my fingertips. Best Buckeye site around!
Go Bucks!

phxbuck's picture

If the ESPN special becomes an advantage then kudo's to Ohio State for making it happen. 

3technique's picture

The Dline is sick.. I love everything I've read about Washington and it was nice to hear something nice about Joel Hale. He had a nice spring last year and is the kind of DT that matches up well with Wisky oline. I really like the opportunity to be aggressive. I hope we blitz everydown and just play with recklessness!!!

Buckeyejason's picture

" I hope we blitz every down and just play with recklessness"

seriously? That's not the smartest idea.


cbusbuckeye's picture

I want to see more of a NY Giants type pass rush, our front 4 wreaks havoc and the back 7 takes care of everything else.

3technique's picture

Agreed. I just got excited... I think this Dline will pressure the QB enough so blitzing will not be necessary.. I was watching the Rose bowl against ASU and it looked like they blitzed a lot back then.. It looked like a fun defense to play on.. That D had some serious talent too with Vrabel, Katzenmoyer, etc..

Buckeyejason's picture

I think blitzing alot is fine if :
A. You can get there on time
B. You have a lock down secondary 


BrewstersMillions's picture

I'm ok with blitzing as well but prefer teams that do it with no more than 5 man rushes, still leaving 6 in. Sometimes teams can be effective blitzing teams by sending only 1 or MAYBE 2 more rushers but their line stunts\zone drops\movement create situations where those 1 or 2 blitzers get free runs at guys while still allowing ample support in coverage. Sometimes VERY effective pressure can be generated by 'who you send where' not 'how many you send'.

Taspra's picture

I still absolutely get chills when I watch Kyle Dodson make his announcement. It never gets old.

tedglover's picture

Dear rest of the world,
After you kicked us while we were down and wished the Death Penalty on our program, you can all--every one of you--suck it.
Suck it long, suck it hard.  I loved--LOVED--the ESPN show today.  When Meyer said:
"I want a pissed off football team.  I want an angry football team.  You've got an angry staff, and I'm proud to be your coach."
I thought I was going to jump out my bedroom window.  I can't tell you how fired up I am for this season to start.

WC Buckeye's picture


The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

AC1972's picture

I like meyer's comments to the equipment manger to "get that guy in the blue shirt a white Ohio state shirt".
I laughed out loud!  No blue on the damn sideline! Loved it!

buckeyedude's picture

Who would be that dumb, anyway? R U serious? Bloo shirt? Give him a swirley.



buckeye76BHop's picture

Adolph's a man child...I liked Bellamy but personally think once the third week of camp hits you could see about 7-9 Freshmen getting starting time or at least getting time some where on the field.  There's just so much talent with the 2012 class and I love that whinny quote's nice to have a scandal and then come out smelling like roses.  May be next year OSU will be playing for some roses...or possibly something else.

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

SPreston2001's picture

People kill me saying we went through a "major" scandal. I honestly couldnt believe how big everything got blown up. Trading gear for ink, yeah thats about the worst thing you could possibly do lol. 

slicksickle's picture

The gear for ink was just the start of the whole thing ...don't forget the lying and all of the Bobby D stuff that went down shortly after (during) that forced the FTM. In hindsight, it was fairly major.

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

Everytime someone's says something to me me out here in PAC-12 country I just have to laugh. Especially considering what is going on at places like Oregon, UNC, UCF, Miami, and what happened at USC and Alabama. Tattoos and cash for personal belongings and we cheated? But these other schools aren't cheating or didn't cheat. Then there is State Penn University...

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama