11W Recruiting Notebook: Crunch Time

By Alex on December 12, 2012 at 3:00p

After hosting a group of very talented prospects last weekend, Urban Meyer and the Ohio State coaching staff came along with their eighteenth and nineteenth commitments in the recruiting class of 2013, ATH Gareon Conley and DL Donovan Munger.

Conley all smiles with OSUGareon Conley was a big pickup for OSU

Both players are excellent pickups, as Conley can provide immediate help at either wide receiver or cornerback (and a flip from Michigan never hurts), while Munger will fight for a spot in the two deep on the defensive line next year, and could also fill a need at offensive guard down the road.

In addition to the two verbals, the Bucks also hosted Plano (TX) Prestonwood Christian Academy LB Mike Mitchell, as well as Butler Community College LB Tommy Sanders. Both players are fine talents that would fit well into the OSU program, but they are not the only prospects the staff is still pursuing.

There is a plethora of national talent, both committed and uncommitted, that the coaches are going after, setting up what should be a wild ride into National Signing Day come February. OSU already has a top-five ranked class and with the caliber of player they are still after, it's looking like a top-three finish isn't only a possibility, but a likelihood.

In this edition of the 11W Recruiting Notebook, we discuss the linebacker situation for the current class, look at what receivers may still be in play, and check in on one of the most followed prospects by Ohio State fans, S Vonn Bell.

Join us after the jump to get the latest scoop on the recruiting trail when it comes to Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes.

Linebacker Taking Shape

Linebacker is a big need for the 2013 class. With Zach Boren and Etienne Sabino graduating, two starting spots will be open on next year's defense and opportunity is there for an incoming freshman to step up and grab significant playing time. Tyquan Lewis is on board as a hybrid linebacker/defensive end, but the staff will look to add another three or four players to the group before Signing Day.

Johnson has INTIMIDATIONTrey Johnson is a high-impact linebacker 

The top target is the aforementioned Mitchell, who made his first trip to Columbus last weekend. Mitchell had long said OSU was his leader and the visit only solidified that lead further. No commitment has been made yet, but we feel good about the Buckeyes landing his pledge based on info we got following the Texas native's official visit. Don't be shocked if a decision comes as early as the next few days.

The number two target the coaches are after is Trey Johnson, a former Auburn commit. Johnson decommitted from the Tigers after Gene Chizik was fired and it appears the Bucks may lead after his visit for the Michigan game. Florida and USC were other schools in the mix, but I don't think Johnson is too serious about the Trojans and it looks as if the Gators may be full at linebacker. Luke Fickell and Urban Meyer are doing work on this one and it is another situation we feel good about when it comes to Ohio State.

Tommy Sanders was brought into Columbus for an official visit last weekend, but he left campus without an offer. He was slated to make a decision between OSU, Texas A&M, and Mississippi State, but there has been a lot of buzz lately that the Bucks could offer and that interest is growing from Auburn and South Carolina. The JuCo star will likely visit one of those two SEC schools this weekend and it looks like he is pushing back his decision, good news for Ohio State who can now take more time to evaluate offering him.

Skai Moore's contact with OSU had been fading by design and the three-star linebacker out of University School in Fort Lauderdale decided to end his recruitment last night, committing to Rutgers. The Buckeyes were slow playing Moore and even pushed back his visit to buy more time, so this is not a huge loss, but it is a nice get for Rutgers. The key thing to look at in this situation is not that Ohio State will not get Moore, but rather it means they feel good about where they sit with Mitchell and Johnson.

Finally, Chris Worley is a player many fans have been waiting for to commit for quite some time. I'm not sure when the Glenville star will pull the trigger, but I am extremely confident in saying when he does it will be for Ohio State. Ted Ginn Sr. usually has his players hold off announcing to draw more coaches to the school for lesser recruited prospects, but I think in this case it may be OSU calculating when to tell Worley to go public, playing their cards with other recruits on the board.

Wide Receiver Situation Still Murky

Wide receiver is another position with holes that Urban Meyer needs to fill. Jalin Marshall and Taivon Jacobs are already on board, but the staff is looking to add at least two more bodies to the unit.

Quick has speed Urban wantsJames Quick has a tough decision ahead

James Quick is top priority for the staff, and after his official visit for The Game, it looked like OSU was in the driver's seat. That still may be the case, but the coaches' job just got harder as Charlie Strong, who was expected to go to an SEC school, is staying at Louisville after just signing an extension.

I still feel that Quick ends up choosing the Buckeyes, but the chance to be a hero playing for the hometown team is certainly enticing now that Strong is sticking around. If the Cardinals' head coach left, it was all but certain James was coming to Columbus. Now we'll have to wait to hear what his decision is at the US Army Bowl in early January.

Corey Smith, formerly of Akron Buchtel and currently of East Mississippi, also visited for The Game and had a return trip for an official visit scheduled to Columbus for mid-January. The status of that visit is unknown, as Smith committed to Mississippi State over the weekend, potentially ending his recruitment. Smith was definitely a backup option for the staff, so this would not be a huge loss, but it will be interesting to see what the former Ohioan chooses to do if the Buckeyes press for his services.

Shelton Gibson will be a Buckeye if all is taken care of off the field, but that has not happened up until this point. It's no coincidence his official visit is scheduled for Jan. 11, as the coaches will likely want to see his first semester grades, as well as recent test scores, at that time. Word on the street is things are looking good for Gibson when it comes to the classroom, and I expect the Bucks to land a Cleveland Heights product for the second year in a row on Signing Day (Kyle Dodson last year).

Finally, sitting in the queue are Corn Elder and Ryan Timmons. Elder currently holds an offer, while Timmons is waiting for one, but it is unknown at this point if the Bucks would even take the Tennessee native.

People close to Elder say OSU is the team to beat, with UCLA trailing for now, but what is the hold up on him giving a verbal? Based upon what we know, it appears the staff is not ready to take a commitment from the Ensworth star, and would like to see how the numbers shake out. I think that situation will become more clear in the near future, but I don't expect a decision from Elder until after the new year.

Timmons is a fan favorite around these parts, but he would likely need Quick to pick Louisville and one of Smith, Gibson, or Elder not to come to Columbus for an offer to come his way. I do feel strongly that if offered he would commit on the spot, as he's made it no secret who leads for his services. Keep an eye on this one as he would certainly be a quality and welcome addition to the class.

The Curious Case of Vonn Bell

Vonn Bell is one of the best players in the nation, and the four-start safety is fittingly one of the more talked about prospects on this site.

Ring urban's Bell?Will it be OSU or Bama for UA All-American Vonn Bell?

Bell's team is still competing in the high school playoffs in Georgia so he has put recruiting on the back burner, but his coach recently told Miles that he had all of the information he needed to make a decision from his three finalists of Ohio State, Alabama, and Tennessee.

While Bell hasn't said this publicly, the smart money is on the Volunteers being out of this race after Derek Dooley was fired. Even though they are the hometown team (Bell is originally from Tennessee and lives right over the border now), there is just too much ground to make up for Butch Jones when it comes to building a relationship with Vonn, the most important factor in his decision according to his coach.

That leaves Ohio State and Alabama. Bell was in Columbus this summer for a few days, participating in a senior advanced camp and checking out the campus. He was in Tuscaloosa multiple times this season to see the Crimson Tide in action, but does not have an official visit scheduled to either school at this point.

Many people believe Alabama is the school on top here, his taking the trip multiple times this year to see them play being the key sign, but I wouldn't be so quick to write off Ohio State.

All signals indicated that Bell loved his summer trip to OSU and that he has the best relationship with Urban Meyer and the Buckeye coaches. With that being the most important factor in his decision, coupled with it not hurting that Darron Lee is an old friend who has stayed in touch, Ohio State has more than a fighting chance.

I'm not saying the Scarlet and Gray definitely comes out on top, as Alabama is certainly the betting favorite here, but this is the type of pull Urban has been able to get in the past and you can't count him out until Bell pulls the trigger.


Comments Show All Comments

VABuckeyeInsanity's picture

Great article, reading about potential recruits makes me wish everyone was already at tOSU and the season was beginning.  It's great to have Urban Meyer and makes the UA game and the Army All-American game even more exciting. 

ATXbucknut's picture

Thanks, Alex.  Good read.  My gut tells me Bell is Bama's, but I hope I am wrong.

Alex's picture

yeah smart money is probably on Bama, but I think the OSU visit went much better than people think this summer and his relationship with Meyer is tops which is key....this is the type of kid who doesn't need to make a million visits---he got all of the info he needed, saw all three schools, and can make a decision off that

I visited Ohio State only once before deciding to go there, but I was at other schools I applied to multiple times...I know it's different, but saying that he went to 3 Bama games and 0 OSU games this season is a bad ONLY reason to think he's all Tide---the summer visit to Columbus was epic for Vonn and he himself said it was his best visit yet

BuckeyeAsylum's picture

Feels like "Do I really need to buy this if I already have something else" kind of thing. Not the exact same, but I am sure you get what I mean. I just like how these games actually make me wanna watch now that we have "options" in them and I feel so confident that the guys in charge are going to get done what must be done.

Dublin68's picture

Thanks Alex, I don't see an update about Dawson!!!

Alex's picture

supposed to visit January 18...let's see if that happens...the Michigan visit is this weekend and they will push for a verbal....also rumors swirling he would commit to Bama if Saban gives the OK

Larryp713's picture

I personally think Dawson's heart is with the Wolverines. He retweets posts about them 5 times a day. I would be shocked if he ended up anywhere else.



dancorona5's picture

I can only hope that when the Cleveland Heights students announce their commitment, Gibson is a buckeye and Meg has a younger sister that steals the show, once again.

Doc's picture

Nice article Alex.  Recruiting isn't my thing, but hearing about all of the possible talent coming our way is exciting.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

DMcDougal24's picture

I would hate to lose out on Quick and Bell, but tOSU has so many great prospects in reserve that we are going to end up with a fantastic class either way. Corn Elder is a dynamic player and would fit Urban's offense very well in the event that Quick chooses UL. I don't know what they do in the event that Bell picks Bama, but with Worley (presumably a Buckeye), Lee, Thompson, and Burrows all able to play safety I am not worried about getting another safety not named Vonn Bell. 
As much as I like Quick and Bell, the top two guys in my opinion are Mitchell and Johnson.

cinserious's picture

wait until the coaching staff gets ahold of these 'second choice' LB's ans WR's. can you say ALL-AMERICAN?

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

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

I'm thinking Quick to L'ville and Bell to OSU...  I just don't feel like you can form a good relationship with Nick Saban.  He just seems like a jerk all of the time.  If I were Charlie Strong I'd be recruiting Ryan Timmons and Drew Barker to go along with James Quick.  He could be together a nice little offense with those 3 in the future.  I like where OSU stands with the LB's. 

ODEEZ330's picture

I believe from a previous article the most important factors for bell were from a letter he wrote
Relationship with coach ohio state a+
Preparing him to coach after football..sev former players on staff ohio state a+
Pt depth chart at safety ohio state a+

Am I remembering this correctly alex? If so I think bell is buckeye already I know I'm in the minority lol

stark county football

Alex's picture

you remember that article correctly...hope you are right

Ahh Saturday's picture

Question for 11w staff: is it Dawson, Lacy or nobody for the OL? Is there anybody off the radar along the OL we might snap up?

Alex's picture

There will be new names you haven't heard, I am sure. That is how Urban Meyer works.

Ahh Saturday's picture

Thanks for all the info. If I understand you correctly, you seem to be implying that we will add another OL. Is that right?

Alex's picture

I think ideally Urban wants to, but I'm not sure if he will actually get one

OSU westcoast's picture

Hey Alex. What's our back up plan if Bell dosen't pan out? Do we have any more offers going out? 


Alex's picture

I don't know if we take another defensive back with Conley now in the fold. Maybe an offer goes out to Max Redfield and they try to get him on a visit, but that's all I can see at DB.

I think you use that spot for an OL, Elder, Timmons, Sanders, etc.

avail31678's picture

Thank you Alex!  I have never followed recruiting like I do now that Urban is at the helm and now that I've found 11W. 
Articles like this are flat-out awesome.  We appreciate your effort and contact with recruits and the "inside" scoops that brings.
It is VERY easy for me to stay distracted from the fact we don't have a bowl game with all this recruiting excitement going on. 

Alex's picture

thanks for the kind words

danavh4's picture

     I can't tell you how awesome it is to be able to get such in depth recruiting info without having to pay for a membership.  Just goes to show how committed Buckeye faithful truly are!  Thanks for all your hard work and thanks to everyone on here that comments and gives more intel!!!

Michigan Fan: "We lose a long snapper and the whole team goes to shit!"

buckeye76BHop's picture

I was the same way until last year...and was amazed at what Urban did in such a short time.  I only followed recruiting closely back in 2008...for reasons I won't mention (sure did seem to cause quite a stir over my opinions on that classes members...so I'll refrain for sure from now on).  
And yes, Alex and his two relatively new accomplices, Derek and Miles are great additions to the recruiting information that 11W provides for all of us (not to mention Gene;-).  Great stuff guys as you always do.  And thanks for asking our questions too...

"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 

JasonBuck's picture

Alex, has your "best guess" changed from how you thought the class would eventually end from the last recruiting round table?

Alex's picture

Ha, already forgot who I predicted, but with 19 on board, I think we take 5-6 more:

  • Shelton Gibson
  • Chris Worley
  • Mike Mitchell
  • Trey Johnson
  • Vonn Bell
  • James Quick

Those would be six if I HAD to predict the finish and boy, would that be an incredible finish. I feel most confident with the first three and am feeling pretty good with Johnson. It is Bell and Quick that could be the ones to mess this up, but add in Elder, Tmmons, or an OL and you still have an AWESOME class.

JasonBuck's picture

Yah, that would be a HECK of a ending to the class.  Just surprised there's no O-line on that list.  Think that the staff is pretty much saying "wait until 2014" (since 2014 is a pretty good year for linemen in Ohio) or do you think we'll be surprised by a o-line commit that could take the place of the one's you feel less confident about?  EDIT- Sorry didn't see the first time through that a OL commit could take the place of one either Bell or Quick.

buckeye76BHop's picture

Do you think they may take a 7th with an OL guy?  They seem to be playing hard court press with trying to attain another OL in this class.  Just wondering your thoughts...there may be more attrition on the way (either Roby, which I really don't want or transfers).  

"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 

danavh4's picture

Saw Elder play on ESPN...he's a stud...dynamic athlete!  Think about the signs...the T-Shirts
"Corn for Heisman"!!!   Gotta love that!

Michigan Fan: "We lose a long snapper and the whole team goes to shit!"

Rural Meyer's picture

Does the "quick decision" favor us or Bama Alex?

Buckifan4Life's picture

There are so many great prospects waiting in the wings to commit and I hope this staff is able to navigate these difficult, frustrating waters well. I'd hate to see OSU lose out on a Worley, an Elder or a Gibson simply because we slow played them too long. I guess if the staff feels like they are in the lead, it is worth the wait.

BuckeyeAsylum's picture

From my understanding, Gibson hasn't been slow played at all. He has to get his off the field stuff in line, and that just makes plain sense. OSU does well with protecting academics for athletes compared to most schools. They are students first and I can appreciate not going "oh well, good enough, get out and play for us." 

Buckifan4Life's picture

None of us are privy to whether his grades are good enough to enroll at OSU or any other school. All I'm stating is that IF we are slow playing these recruits waiting for others to decide, it could come back to bite OSU. I am hoping they have a good grip on the situation.

Bucks43201's picture

I feel like we're gonna land that OT from out West - LACY - and I think he'll be a great player for the Bucks.

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

buckeye76BHop's picture

nevermind...saw on Gene's little tid bits what Trey's doing.

"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 

okiebuck's picture

Good stuff Alex; I hope y'all are spot on about the Mitchell kid because landing two high rated prospects out of Texas would be big!  

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

okiebuck's picture

A little off topic but does your gut tell you about Roby; does he go pro or does he stay?? If he stays, I've got to think he's a first team preseason AA and we really need him in my opinion.

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

Alex's picture

Roby iS staying...

BuckeyeAsylum's picture

Confirmed or just super duper confident?

Because I really, really want Roby back. I haven't ever wanted a damn players back there back so bad in my life. Losing 7/11 starters is hard enough, 8 would just be a little more ugly.

tunehtraef's picture

Same question... Very confident, or you already know?!?
Thanks for all the excellent info.!

Alex's picture

Super confident.....

buckeye76BHop's picture

Good stuff and thank you for that info....I'm really happy he's staying.  That will help the young guys coming in at CB/DB (as well as the other DBs as well... I'm PUMPED).

"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 

Georgia Buckeye's picture

Thanks Alex!!! You continue putting out great material. All us Buckeye fans truly appreciate your great info.

okiebuck's picture

Ditto with GA Buckeye; you guys rock with info; especially for those of us outside of Ohio; keep up the good work gang!

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

BuckeyeAsylum's picture

Alex, there is a reason I follow you on Twitter, solid production everytime. Thank you sir!

sir rickithda3rd's picture

great work! i love the info u guys are great, keep it up

mark may wins douchebag of the year... again

umsitsonit's picture

I love seeing us in competition with Alabama all over the map.  People try telling me that no team is going to be able to beat Alabama the rest of the decade and I ask them if they no anything about recruiting, which they never do.  Urban's able to reach out everywhere and grab people from places OSU has never been able to recruit before but still keeps his roots finding the best players in the mid-west.  Genius recruiter.  Especially now since he lets his coaches do a lot more than he did when he was at Florida which really shows he's serious about everything he told his family before taking the job.  So glad he's our coach.  OSU could not have made out any better.

bassplayer7770's picture

People try telling me that no team is going to be able to beat Alabama the rest of the decade 

Those people must not be following Alabama all that closely either because they're forgetting LSU in 2011 and Texas A&M (and possibly the Domers) in 2012.

razrback16's picture

As always thanks for the info Alex. What is your gut call on Carlos going pro?