Buckeyes Haul in One of Nation's Best Classes

By Kyle Rowland on February 6, 2013 at 8:00p

It started at 7:28 a.m.

Inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, a fax machine began spilling out paper. The national letter of intent from four-star defensive lineman Joey Bosa had arrived. It was the beginning of a day that ended with Ohio State having the first or second-ranked recruiting class in the country, depending on which service you look at. It doubled as arguably the single best class in program history.

It was business as usual for Urban Meyer on signing day.

Urban Meyer and Co. plucked talent from far and wide, scouring the nation for the requisite pieces to win a national championship. Offensive and defensive linemen, linebackers and speed at the skill positions were the top priorities for the Buckeyes, and each area resulted in high grades from the coaching staff and recruiting experts alike. 

But the news that sent the war room at the football facility into full-scale euphoria was Vonn Bell’s signature. The five-star defensive back from Tennessee was the mystery prize for Ohio State. Throughout the recruiting process, Bell was never perceived as an Ohio State lean, and even minutes before his announcement several national prognosticators had him tabbed for Tennessee. Even Shelley Meyer told her husband on Monday night that she didn’t believe Bell would commit to Ohio State.

Then just past 10 a.m. on the East Coast, Bell delivered the good news to the Buckeyes, causing cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs to display his patented exuberance. 

Said Meyer: “Vonn Bell called me and said, ‘You know I’m in, right?’ I said, ‘No, I didn’t know you were in. Congratulations.’”

Meyer described the recruitment of Bell as a “street fight.” He said he was so nervous that he had to step off his treadmill during his Wednesday workout and step away from Everett Withers, the prime recruiter of Bell. Once the announcement was made, relief swept over Meyer.

“Start to finish what Everett Withers did with Vonn Bell, that’s as good a recruiting effort as I’ve ever seen,” said Meyer.

But there were more big fish in the class of two five-stars and 16 four-stars, according to Rivals.com. That list includes linebacker Mike Mitchell, athletes Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson and wide receiver James Clark.

The latter two were final week coups orchestrated by Tom Herman and Tim Hinton. Wilson was a longtime commit to Oregon, but reopened the process after Chip Kelly fled to the NFL, while Clark, a Florida native, was thought to be solidly in the Gators' corner.

Meyer, though, who’s earned a reputation as one of the best closers, only threw strikes this week. It was bad news for the rest of the country.   

“We went into the final week hoping for three guys that could have gone either way,” he said. “James Clark, Dontre Wilson, Vonn Bell; if we get one of three, that’s all right; two of three, that’s great, but to get three out of three – it’s a great day to be a Buckeye.

“I thought it was going to be a very good day, but it goes into the great category.”

A classic Meyer running back/slot receiver combo, Wilson is 5-foot-10, 174 pounds. Any part of his size that might be a disadvantage is offset with his speed and elusiveness.

“Dontre Wilson, I’m hoping Buckeye Nation really enjoys watching that guy play,” Meyer said. “If he’s who we think he is, they’ll love him.”

Ohio State has long had its radar locked on Wilson, not just in the weeks since Kelly left Oregon. Meyer reiterated that point, saying the Buckeyes started recruiting him in the spring.

A day full of highs didn’t pass by without surprise, however. Punter Johnny Townsend was expected to confirm his commitment with Ohio State at a noon press conference. It was then pushed back to 4 p.m. before being cancelled altogether.

Vonn Bell was the cherry on top for Meyer and his staff.

It isn’t often that a punter causes high drama, but the Buckeyes only have a walk-on on roster this season. Place-kicker Drew Basil could handle punting duties and wide receiver Frank Epitropoulos punted in high school.

Meyer said he is concerned and said another recruit could be added, almost certainly referring to Townsend.

Townsend, one of the top-rated punters in the country, hails from Florida and has been a Meyer fan since his days patrolling the sidelines in Gainesville. When he received an offer from his dream coach, Townsend quickly jumped aboard the Urban Express.

The athletic director at his high school, Doug Patterson, described the matter as a family situation.

“Right now it’s a personal matter between the Townsends and Ohio State, and they are working as fast as they can to make sure that any concerns they have are taken care of,” Patterson said. “They really want to hold off on a binding commitment until they feel 100 percent comfortable with everything from the university.”

Intrigue surrounding Missouri running back Ezekiel Elliott that popped up during January ended up being all for naught. Elliott committed to Ohio State in April, but visited the homestate Tigers, where his mom and dad were varsity athletes. In the end, his original word was firm, though Elliott said he’s a “Missouri Tiger for life” at his announcement ceremony.

Linebacker Trey Johnson, who de-committed from Auburn after Gene Chizik was fired and pledged his allegiance to the Buckeyes at the Under Armour All-American Game, didn’t waver when the time came to send his national letter of intent. 

The competition for Johnson was a “feeding frenzy,” according to Meyer. But he never faulted the staffs at Auburn or Tennessee for trying to pry away blue-chippers late in the process. Instead, Meyer pointed out it’s all part of the deal.

“It happens every year when new coaches come in,” he said. “I always watch who gets hired.”

In two years at Ohio State, Meyer has made late pushes in each. But this year wasn’t a mad dash full or uncertainty. A year ago, Meyer had to juggle filling a staff, recruiting and getting to know the players on the roster all at once. He had the luxury of staff continuity in 2013.

“Tom Herman did a great job in Texas, an area Ohio State hasn’t traditionally been as strong in,” Meyer said.

The Lone Star State wasn’t the only part of the country the Buckeyes planted a flag in. They secured commitments in the states of Florida, California, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey and Indiana. Only 10 of the 24 signees are from Ohio, with 14 coming from outside the state borders. It’s a trend that is likely to continue in 2014 due to a weaker than usual talent pool in Ohio State.

“We do want to cherry-pick and recruit nationally,” Meyer said. “We’d much rather have a base in Ohio and then branch out.”

In the never-ending world of recruiting, the preparation for the 2014 class begins Thursday – or maybe even Wednesday tonight. The thought process also turns to spring practice and how to incorporate the five early enrollees into their role.

Early playing time is not only available, it’s expected when you become a Buckeye.

“Now we go from recruit phase to prep phase because we don’t redshirt guys here at Ohio State,” Meyer said. “We tell guys we aren’t recruiting them to sit a year or two. We want guys who are ready to play.”

After a year’s worth of work came to fruition, Meyer is ready for a 7:28 a.m. tee time on Wednesday. Weather permitting, of course.




Comments Show All Comments

ArizonaBuckeye's picture

I've put this up twice already today but it just hasn't gotten old..

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

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Love the crying Gator.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

buckeyedude's picture

Only thing missing is a gray Elephant surrounded by a crimson background.



ArizonaBuckeye's picture

Hahahah That's right!

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

cinserious's picture

Thats coming soon enough.

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

MediBuck's picture

Best image ever.

"There is a force that makes us all brothers, no one goes his way alone." --Woody Hayes

BuddhaBuck's picture

Urban is right. It's a great day to be a Buckeye.

Don't text while driving.

buckeye76BHop's picture

This^^^bc of this right here below from Kyle...

"It was the beginning of a day that ended with Ohio State having the first or second-ranked recruiting class in the country, depending on which service you look at.  It doubled as arguably the single best class in program history."

"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 

Riggins's picture

Great class. Sky is the limit. Really looking forward to seeing them contribute, but now it's time to put all the stars away and go to work. They don't hand out trophies for recruiting classes.
I don't know what the situation with Townsend is all about, but I hope it's resolved asap.  Pretty shitty situation for a guy who was committed for months.

cinserious's picture

The way things are going, dare I say we might get away with never needing a punter in 2013?

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

dubjayfootball90's picture

Beautiful day in recruiting and the future is looking Oh So Bright!!!

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture


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

ATXbucknut's picture

I put my pants on one leg at a time each morning. My feeling is that UFM gets dressed a little differently.

Amazing work by Urban and staff. And big thanks to the 11W staff for their superb coverage today.

buckeyedude's picture

ROFL! Is that before or after his second cup of coffee?



Kevbo714's picture

TOSU recruiting class and Damian Walters (the guy flipping/getting dressed in the vid) are the shizznit... 

Tom Crean listens to Nickelback...

cajunbuckeye's picture

I don't see what everyone is getting excited about. It's only the top class in the nation. OoooOO-HHHHH......

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

DefendYoungstown's picture

ESPN had us at #2 earlier in the day, after we signed Zeke they moved us back down to #3. Can anybody explain this?  I don't expect any love from ESPN but we land another stud and we move down one???

What we can't do in the air we'll do on the ground.

gwalther's picture

Uh, yes, I can. THEY'RE ESPN.

Class of 2008

Hovenaut's picture

They spent too much time down south. Guess drooling over Ole Miss, Alabama and the likes threw them off track.

Whatever...I expect this class to leave no doubt on the field when it really counts.

It is a great day to be a Buckeye.

falconlax13's picture

Thats because Alabama got commitments from top guys like Dee Liner and Alvin Kamara (and AShawn Robinson as well i think) on NSD, which bumped them up to #1.

QBYBuckeye's picture

ESPN is irrelevant.  At this point in time, all ratings are irrelevant.  What is relevant is what happens on November 23rd.

New York Buckeye

Kaceybrown's picture

Bc Bama signed their umpteenth running back in this class...

syphon2677's picture

Im ready for the season to start

BuckeyesMJ's picture

Vonn Bell is from Rossville, Ga but grew up a Tenn fan.
WOW What a class!!

Kyle Rowland's picture

He actually lives in Tennessee, but went to high school in Georgia. Lives in Chattanooga area near the TN/GA border. 

buckeyedude's picture

Isn't that like...against the rules? Can you play sports if you go to an out of state Catholic school, or any school for that matter?



tennbuckeye19's picture

Not against any rules. Bell's mom works at the school that he attends in Georgia, thus an exception was given for him to attend HS in Georgia yet live in Tenn.

buckeyedude's picture

I grew up in Toledo right on the Ohio/Michelin border(I mean right on it...my backyard fence was the state line). I had several friends that lived in Michelin and paid to go to Catholic schools in Toledo, since there weren't any nearby in Michelin, and they were all forbidden to play sports since they were from out of state. At least that's what they told me.



buckeye76BHop's picture

This was the face I made this morning around 10:35 when I checked 11W;-)
And I'm eating Crow right now for the Bell to Bama BS I was talking 2 weeks ago:-)

"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 

bucknut24's picture

Urban is a straight monster!  He and his staff are incredible at recruiting and the rest of the Big Ten teams are done.  No team is going to be able to match his classes.

awwwwwwop's picture

Do you consider Corey Smith as an Ohio kid? I feel like even though he went to school in Mississippi, he is still an Akron native at heart.

"Who cares? Go Bucks." - Aaron Untch

buck-I.8's picture

I do. He burned my high school quite a few times, great to see him on my side from now on haha

Poison nuts's picture

Pure amazing. I've not followed recruiting the way I did this year, but I have been aware of it in years past. From everything I know - this could certainly be the most talented recruiting class ever to land at OSU...I am in awe - it was a great day! Now I am just hoping things get squared away with Johnny Townsend.

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

Chief B1G Dump's picture

Great job by the staff!
Welcome to all the new Buckeyes. Best of luck boys, you have our full support...make us proud!

Buck_Michigan's picture

Wow I knew the Urbz was an elite recruiter but daaamn!  That's some grown ass man recruiting....we're coming for you SABAN!

2012 Beat Michigan Tail gate:  UFM:  "Let’s beat the sh*t out of Michigan, have a good night."

741's picture

No gigglef***s.

BuckeyesMJ's picture

Coach Withers is straight "gangsta" on the recruiting trail. We'll be lucky to have him on the staff after this season.

hodge's picture

Loved Meyer's press conference.  Especially enjoyed his explination of the tepidation toward offering Ohio kids this year, he didn't know any of them.  Normally, he'd have been watching these guys for years on end; but with all the madness from his initial hiring and spring coniditioning, hadn't got to evaluate most of the Ohio class of 2013.  So while they were getting offers from other major programs (aka Michigan), Ohio State was perceived as having cold feet.   Not to mention, I'm sure a lot of the kids remembered how it worked in years prior, where the old staff knew who they were going to offer relatively early on.  Meyer even explained that this class would be a relative anomaly:  he wants a larger home-state base.  Personally, I want the best players, regardless of where they're from--but we'll always have the best shots with the guys in our back yard.

ODEEZ330's picture

Started following recruiting closely once meyer was hired which coincided withmy discovery of 11w. What an awesome thing to follow. I love this class and all their individual stories. Unreal class. Coach urbs doing work son

stark county football

cinserious's picture

Get Withers on De'Shawn Hand pronto!

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

onetwentyeight's picture

WELL I bet if TRESSEL was still here no punter would be WAVERING. 
I kidd .... Urban is unreal. F*cking Unreal. We have the greatest coach in College Football. 

WoodyHayesHaymaker's picture

Saban may have something to say about that....

Orlando Pancakes's picture

Well hopefully they can settle that one on the field this season.

BuckeyeInOrlando's picture

Ready or not...
Here we come...

Boom777's picture


Wherever you are, there you be!