The Closer: Meyer Shines in Recruiting Crunch Time

By Kyle Rowland on January 17, 2013 at 10:00a

Crunch time.

In every sport, it’s what happens in the final moments of a game that often defines the total product. In college football, November is given privileged treatment. It’s the closing month of the season and features the sport’s grandest rivalries. Win in November and your season is frequently deemed a success.

Few coaches can match Meyer on the recruiting trail. 

Eleven seasons is all Urban Meyer has spent in charge of college football programs. But at four stops – Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State – there have been several constants. And all of them reflect favorably on Meyer.

No losing records, high win totals over rivals, national championships, conference titles. The list goes on and on. At the heart of Meyer’s achievements is his role as a closer.

In November, Meyer is 34-7. In February, his record is nearly unmatched.

At Bowling Green and Utah, Meyer was able to evaluate talent that led to stretches of winning not seen at either school. He recruited some of the top players of the past decade to Florida, including one in particular that’s among the best ever. Gainesville turned into an NFL scout haven during Meyer’s six seasons in town. Top-five classes were routine with similar success developing the players.

Now that operation is humming at Ohio State. When Meyer hopped aboard the Buckeye Express in November 2011, his year sabbatical did not diminish his allure to prospective Ohio Staters. A middling class was transformed into a consensus top-five group as Meyer secured the services of Noah Spence, Taylor Decker, Kyle Dodson, Se’Von Pittman, David Parkins, Camren Williams, Armani Reeves and others in the final weeks of the 2012 recruiting calendar.

If the beginning of 2013 is any indication, the Buckeyes will once again put a Mariano Rivera-like stamp on the end of recruiting. The Under Armour and U.S. Army All-American games both served as precursors to a final push until National Signing Day. Ohio State had climbed as high as No. 2 in some recruiting analysts’ class rankings.

“The next three weeks there’s obviously going to be a very strong emphasis on closing this class,” Meyer said. “At this time, we like our class. As with most classes, how you finish is what determines if you love the class.”

The stunning reversal by Chip Kelly yesterday, leaving Oregon for the Philadelphia Eagles, could have a ripple effect felt across college football. Those tentacles could even be felt more than 2,000 miles away in Columbus. A handful of Oregon commits were offered scholarships by Ohio State in the immediate aftermath of Kelly’s decision, including versatile offensive weapon Dontre Wilson.

“There’s a lot of chaos right now with new staffs, new coaches trying to take your players and all that kind of stuff,” Meyer said. “We’ve just got to keep recruiting our players and get going.”

Vonn Bell is the Buckeyes' biggest remaining target. 

The No. 1 target for the Buckeyes right now is Georgia native Vonn Bell. The four-star safety will announce his decision at 9:00 a.m. on signing day after visits to Ohio State, Alabama and Tennessee.

Experts graded last year’s class highly and several players made an impact as true freshmen on a 12-0 team. Still, Meyer and his assistants have found the road much easier this year. That’s what an undefeated record and no looming NCAA sanctions will do for a program. Ohio State might have recruiting restrictions, but they’ve barely registered a blip on college football’s radar.

“I call it the flavor of the month,” Meyer said. “Ohio State really wasn’t the flavor of the month a year ago. There are some really quality guys that came. Noah Spence is obviously the key name that jumped onboard last year. I don’t want to say we’re selecting and not recruiting, because that’s not correct either. But it’s just a completely different approach. We know everybody we’re recruiting.

“Last year it was kind of give me the top 20 guys in positions and I was on the phone with them trying to get them. Here we know. We’ve been in the schools, we know who they are, we know what we’re getting.”

Another hectic part of the 2012 class taking form was the musical chairs among the coaching staff. Meyer was busy retaining and hiring assistants. At times, he hired multiple coaches for the same position. Within a month, Taver Johnson, Bill Sheridan and Kerry Coombs all held the title of cornerbacks coach. For recruiting purposes, a high level of turnover doesn’t elicit excitement from recruits.

What high school seniors do appreciate is being wanted and being relevant. The Buckeyes have been able to offer both. Meyer and his assistants have crisscrossed the country since the season-ending victory over Michigan, resulting in five commitments.

Visits and offers have continued to dot the landscape. Along with that is the near guarantee of early playing time. Meyer has made it a point to recruit players that are capable of seeing the playing field during Year 1. Combined with that, Ohio State has several areas of need, with linebacker and wide receiver topping the list.

But if that isn’t enough to make an impact on an impressionable young man, leave it to Coombs to deliver a speech with the ultimate prize in mind.

“When I lay my head on the pillow at night, I ask myself one question,” said Coombs, in a YouTube video to running back commit Ezekiel Elliot. “Coach Meyer requires it. Did you beat Alabama’s corners coach today? If the answer is yes, good. Get up tomorrow and continue. If the answer is no, you’ve got to ask yourself, ‘Why not?’ Because that’s who we’re chasing. We want to be the best in the country. We want to be ‘the team.’”

It’s a status Meyer’s teams have been labeled with for a decade. Closing time is where they’ve earned it.


Comments Show All Comments

RunEddieRun1983's picture

Makes me so proud to be in Buckeye Nation.

I don't always downvote, but I do always downvote a Michigan fan trolling the Buckeye boards.

osubuck57's picture

Wouldn't want any other coach!! Love to see him work his mojo!! It will definately be an interesting 3 weeks :)



You have to guess that he has at least 1 ace card up his sleeve. He's going to visit someone or impress someone in the next few weeks and he's going to land someone like Bell or he's going to flip someone like Wilson. Even if he doesnt, I have full faith in his recruiting abilities and i have even greater faith in his ability to get every ounce of effort and talent out of everyone under his watch. I agree, great time to be part of Buckeye Nation!

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

Doc's picture

Man this just keeps getting better.  I loved Tress, but this is redunkulous.  Urban is a machine.  I have no doubt he will be the king of College foozball in the next few years.  Hang on to your shit everyone, it's about to get real up in here.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

gwalther's picture

No need to use the past tense to express your Tressel love. 5 BCS bowl wins, 1 National Title, 1 Heisman, 9 wins over TSUN. #TresselLove

Class of 2008

Doc's picture

You're 110% correct.  I still love JT.  Urbz is just on another plain.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

LouGroza's picture

And on more planes! Ba-dum-dum-tshh!

LouGroza's picture

The price we pay for a poor attempt at levity.

JasonBuck's picture

The only position group I'm worred about at the moment is OL and WR's.  Be interesting after Quick and Gibson both going somewhere else, the recent offers, and the Oregon turnover what happens in the next few weeks.  I'm not so worried about OL as I am WR's but be nice to have another OL in this class even with Lisle and Gardner both being good.

albinomosquito's picture

I really like the fact that some of our biggest needs right now are in some of the flashier positions.. this gives urban a chance to get some serious playmakers in here with his first full recruiting class...
git'er done boys!

btalbert25's picture

Urban gives us such a recruiting advantage over the previous staff for 2 reasons.  First, he's freakin Urban Meyer, few coaches in history have been better at the job.  He recruits better than everyone, he coaches very well, and he's an unbelievable motivator.  2, he never stops recruiting.  Even kids that are committed to his team he keeps recruiting.  I feel like the previous staff would get a commit then just relaxed.  If they felt like they were in goog position they took it easy a bit.  Urban and his staff are in their ears til the NLOI comes in. 

buckeyedude's picture

 I feel like the previous staff would get a commit then just relaxed.

Maybe that had something to do with the imaginary B1G gentlemen's agreement that UFM doesn't honor?



BucksfanXC's picture

Wait, what does this have to do with Teo's girlfriend?
I kid. I really am getting pumped about recruiting since Urban has gotten here. I used to not care so much because the big time prospects were rare with JT. It was normally a bunch of Ohio 3-stars who get developed into a talented team. Now it's 5-stars that I hope we get a couple good years out of.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

toad1204's picture

Is it time to start another James Quick, Shelton Gibson, Dontre Wilson, Mike Mitchell, Trey Johnson thread already?

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

cinserious's picture

Actually Tress got the Ohio 5*s and he pulled in plenty of 4* talent from around the country, and the 3* guys usually turned out to be dawgs. The difference is Tressel got most of his commits earlier on while Urban gets alot of 'Big' ones towards the finish line.

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

AJBor41's picture

WRs are definitely a need, but this team went 12-0 last year, and returns the same WRs with the addition of at least Marshall and Jacobs, and the maturation of Thomas, Spencer, Brown, Smith, etc. 
After just one offseason, the coaching staff squeezed 40 more catches and 500 more yards out of roughly the same group from 2011 (while also rushing for about 500 more yards).  I have a feeling that with another offseason of practice under Urban/Herman and Co. this core will be just fine, and will only improve with future recruits and playmakers.

DeepSouthBuckeye's picture

I love Urbans relentlessness. It took all of what, 3 hours for him to jump on 3 of Oregon's top guys? Its beautiful.
I live in Birmingham, AL, so I hear non stop SEC talk. Its very interesting to hear both sides of the Vonn Bell story. It seems that both Bama and OSU feel they have a legitimate shot at landing Bell. I hope we can pull him north, but I have not had a good feeling about Bell the entire time. I think when it comes decision time, he is going to stay south and end up at Bama.
With that being said, I would quickly forget about Bell if we can flip the 3 Oregon boys. Dontre seems to be the exact play maker Urban has been looking for, and lets be honest, a set of stud twins in scarlet and grey would just be flat out sexy. It seems they are both great athletes, so I am sure Urban and his guys will have no problem finding places to play them.
Should be a great next few weeks! Go Bucks!

Loving all things Buckeye from SEC country in Alabama.

"How firm thy friendship....O-HI-O"

toad1204's picture

I'm pickin up what you're putting down but also hope Mr. Bell is looking at how sweet it will could be for someone to come in and knock off a "dynasty".  All the sudden I'm having 2002 flashbacks.

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

Buckeyeneer's picture

Seriously get, Thad on a plane with Urban and we might land the twins as they have Bball ambitions as well.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

fansince1968's picture

"In Urban We Trust"

oregonianbuckeye's picture

With Urban in TX already tonight for the Bear Bryant Award ceremony, methinks he may be stopping by to see how Wilson is doing. Really want Wilson to join this class. 

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

Yup... I'm sure Wilson will be visited by a few OSU coaches over the next couple of weeks.  I'd say Tom Herman will stop by also. 

buckeye4life050233's picture

It would be huge and buckeyenation would rally hard behind having brothers playing for the buckeyes.....i mean we did have the boren brothers but none really played at the same time besides zach and justin for one year......but playmaker brothers would be huge in the scarlet and grey.....

osubuck57's picture

Don't think the twins are leaving Oregon,but Carrington and Wilson I could see bolting.No facts to back this,but just a gut feeling.It wil be interesting to see who Oregon hires as it's next head coach.I think that will be a tell tale sign,if or when,we can possibly flip any of those recruits.If they promote the OC to head coach,they all may stay.If they go out and hire a new guy,we might just have a chance at a few of these kids.


btalbert25's picture

I find it weird that if they were going to just promote the OC they haven't already done it.  

2002osubuck's picture

I think they are required to at least offer other coaching candidates an opportunity to interview.

buckeye76BHop's picture

That's what they do...making the great state of Ohio proud.

Come on over Oregon recruits...we'll gladly take you in;-)

"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 

cinserious's picture

What position do the twins play? where are they from? and what are there stars? Junst wondering.

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

avail31678's picture

Depends on the recruiting site, but they are WR's/ATH's/DB's, I believe.  Tyree and Tyrell Robinson out of San Diego. 
EDIT: both 4-stars on Rivals.

cinserious's picture


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