Mike Vrabel: Ace Recruiter

By Jordan Wagner on August 1, 2013 at 7:00p
Perhaps a little too intense? Nah. Maybe headbutting a helmet wasn't the best idea? 

Super Bowl champion. Professional. Buckeye. Ohioian. Intense. Winner. Young. Ace recruiter? 

When Mike Vrabel was hired to coach linebackers by good friend Luke Fickell in 2011, many expected Vrabel to be able to adjust to college recruiting and no one doubted his knowledge of the game. Who wouldn't want to play for a former Super Bowl champion, someone who knows what it takes to make it to the National Football League? 

In an Eleven Warriors poll, 84 percent of voters loved the hire while the other 16 percent voted they hated it or "meh." While many expected Vrabel to be a good recruiter for the Buckeyes, most probably weren't expecting him to be amongst the nations elite recruiters. Fast forward to today and the Buckeyes assistant coach is currently ranked third in 247Sports' national recruiter rankings. 

Each day, Vrabel continues to prove his worth on this staff. He brings championship experience from his professional career and a tool he can use on the recruiting trail. Growing up in the Buckeye State and eventually becoming one of Ohio State's great players, Vrabel can sell his roots as a selling-point to the top in-state kids.

No one can sell The Ohio State University better than someone who played football here and eventually fulfilled a dream of being drafted into the NFL. Many recruits and their families grew up watching Vrabel while he was with the Patriots.

Recruits and players both speak highly of the intense coach. He works his players hard and demands the most out of them. They respect him because he has been in their position not to long ago. It's always good to learn from someone that has done what you want to do and has been where you want to go.

In a performance review last season, Urban Meyer challenged Vrabel to take a win-loss mentality to recruiting. It appears that he has taken that to heart and the results have shown. The young, intense recruiter has built relationships with many elite prospects from the Chicago area, Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina, Texas and even Virginia. Not only has he built relationships with the recruits, but he has connected well with their entire familiy.

"Coach Vrabel hit it off with my little brother," Ohio State commitment Kyle Berger told 11W. He was not the only recruit that specifically credited Vrabel. Four-star tackle Jamarco Jones credits Vrabel's relationship with his mother as a factor in his recruitment. Ohio State was able to hold off the Spartans, who has commitments from quite a few of Jamarco's Core 6 teammates. Ability to build relationships with mothers, brothers, the entire family and the recruits themselves is a huge reason behind Vrabel's recruiting success. 

After Friday Night Lights, 2015 five-star athlete Eric Glover-Williams told Eleven Warriors he is very comfortable with Vrabel. Buckeye fans can sleep easy knowing that the ace of our recruiting staff is all over Glover-Williams, talking to him every other week. Ohio State might not even need to call in the closer – Urban Meyer – for this one. 

Five-star defensive tackle Thomas Holley (New York) and four-star defensive end Solomon Thomas (Texas) are two 2014 recruits who Vrabel is pushing hard to land. It appears that some progress has been made, as Holley has been trending towards Ohio State on the crystal ball in the recent days. The scholarship numbers are getting tight, but it the staff might want to bring in one more defensive lineman in this class. Ohio State has made up a lot of ground on Holley and I would not count out Vrabel and the Buckeyes. Yesterday, Birm stated that his last guy in – if forced to pick – would be Holley. 

Vrabel fits right in with recruits. Vrabel, the ace of the staff. Closer Urban Meyer not pictured.

In 2013, Vrabel is credited for landing defensive tackle Billy Price, defensive end Joey Bosa, cornerback Gareon Conley, while assisting with defensive linemen Michael Hill, Donovan Munger, Tyquan Lewis and Tracy Sprinkle. That impressive haul earned him an A+ in my recruiting grade card in June.

Vrabel has played an important role in securing commitments from the 2014 class as well. He helped secure commitments from offensive tackle Jamarco Jones, linebacker Dante Booker Jr., receivers Parris Campbell and Lonnie Johnson, defensive lineman Jalyn Holmes and defensive tackle Dylan Thompson. 

The most impressive feat has been going outside of Ohio to land a few of his biggest targets. Many considered Jalyn Holmes to be a Florida State lean before surprisingly committing to Ohio State. Vrabel and Tim Hinton both should get a lot of credit for pulling Holmes out of Virginia.

Vrabel's relationship with Jamarco Jones' mother helped pull in the Chicago-area recruit. Many factors go into any prospects decision, but this undoubtedly played an important role in Jones' eventual commitment to the Buckeyes.

It started as a return to his alma Mater to join good friend's staff – it has turned into competing to win a national championship under one of the best head coaches in college football. Vrabel has undoubtedly rose to the challenge on the recruiting front. Now, it is time for him to develop the talent he has brought to Columbus. 


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CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Simply impressive recruiting run for Vrabel!  He's one of the best without a doubt!!
Go Bucks!!

pjtobin's picture

I love Vrabel. He is a very nice man. And he has a ton of knowledge about the football aspects of life to share with our young Buckeyes. Imagine having a Super Bowl MVP calling you and talking football. I am very impressed with his coaching abilities. He seems to be a big factor in everything he does. I had no idea he was pulling guys in at the rate he is. I totally understand why. He is a beast. Does anyone see him ever leaving TOSU?

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

BrooklynBuckeye's picture

I don't think he was ever a super bowl mvp, but he definitely should have been the year they beat the Panthers. He forced a huge fumble that swung the game and caught a touchdown pass, but I think Pre-Yoko Brady still won MVP.

steensn's picture

How could you hate the hire!? He's kill'n it.

buckeye_heart's picture

I know it is after the fact but 16 percent not liking the hire! What was not to like? Previous Buckeye, Super Bowl Champ, Badass......... need I say more.

yrro's picture

Vrabel's awesome, but he is still new to coaching. I love our defensive staff and I think they're going to be great, but they haven't proven it yet like Heacock and Dantonio have.

Johnnycake's picture

This is the perfect example of a guy that had an issue with the Vrabel hire. Admit that you look foolish now...just admit it.



yrro's picture

Umm, I'm pretty sure I voted "excited" on that poll. Just saying that I see how others could want someone with more coaching experience.

FitzBuck's picture

I blame the members of this site that don't root for the good guys for the 16%.....hail I'm looking in your direction.  (Jk)

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

buckeyedude's picture

Hail is a closet Buckeye fan. He just hasn't come out yet.



ChazBuckeye's picture

Watch out for that....he doesn't like it;-) (See sarcastic font plz)
But yes, you're exactly correct.  I'd say all the TTUN guys that come her are but they'll never admit it;-)

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

Edincostarica's picture

They were probably Wolverine fans sneaking in votes.


Hovenaut's picture

I applaud John Cooper for offering him a scholly way back when.

Pretty good ROI, I'd say.

My hopes are that Vrabes sticks around long enough to see one of his own recruits break his career sack record (36 for those counting)...*cough, Thomas, cough*.

Basso Profondo's picture

Now that's called Paying it Forward... Ha

BtownBuckeye's picture

Wouldnt be surprised to see him as a head coach some day

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Loved Vrabel, Finkes, and Fickell when they were on the field crushing offenses and it is awesome to see 2 out of 3 on the sidelines coaching and recruiting!!!

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

ODEEZ330's picture

Love vrabes. One of my all time fav buckeyes. Great addition to the staff. And urbs eye for talent showed when he kept him on staff. Brilliant. Id kill to have had a chance to play for urban meyer and mike vrabel wow

stark county football

BeijingBucks's picture

I remember how I cheered when the patriots ran that wrinkle goal line offense and he caught his first touchdown pass...and I am definitely not a pats fan

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

unholy bucknut's picture

I hope we can keep Vrabel around for many years to come. Hopefully one day we will see him be our defensive coordinator when Withers moves on to be a head coach somewhere.

Olemissbuckeye's picture

Love to see a great achieving more greatness.

osuguy2008's picture

Sounds like Vrabel wouldn't have to worry about Alec Baldwin reminding him that coffee's for closers

Stinson's picture

The past couple years when we (students) camped outside for Buckeye Basketball games, it was very ordinary for Mike Vrabel to show up the morning of the game with sacks of McDonald's breakfast, pizzas, donuts, etc. He's a great guy. 

Here's the pizza receipt from last year's michigan State game:

"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." -Wayne Woodrow Hayes

Jordan Wagner's picture

Drew Brees just called and told me that Vrabel tips too much. 

Stinson's picture

Haha yeah.. 5% is a little rough.

"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." -Wayne Woodrow Hayes

Knarcisi's picture

Made me look.  How ridiculous was that story ...

Stinson's picture

It was a takeout order. Let him live.

"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." -Wayne Woodrow Hayes

Knarcisi's picture

Agreed. That's what I meant by ridiculous. 

ChazBuckeye's picture

I LOVE their Pizza.  Two brothers I know work there and ones part owner.  Great friends and great dudes too.  Not to mention, they make one helluva pie:-)

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

buckskin's picture

Great recruiter, great position coach.  Buckeye, through and through.  He has all the tools to develop into a great head football coach.   Belichick and Meyer are 2 pretty successful coaches to learn from. 

Buckeye5000's picture

Excellent Job done by Coach Vrabel in the 2 yrs. he has been on staff. I'm sure he got the same speech from Coach Meyer as the rest of the coaches when Meyer arrived. That being that recruiting is the life blood of a program but also Coach Meyer, knowing of what a compeditor Vrab's is, really pounded on the "take it as a win or a loss" theme when he misses on a recruit.  

2014 Undisputed National Champions!

JayDonk's picture

OSU coaches in the top 50; 3. TSUN coaches in the top 50; 0.

They only hate us because we're great.

jkrk's picture

I'm gonna feel weird in a decade when every B1G coach (aside from Hoke, somehow inexplicably holding off breaking Dantonio's heart attack record) is a former Buckeye assistant. 

QBYBuckeye's picture

Whatever my position on the issue is, I am adamantly opposed to the US Congress getting involved.  They have already screwed up our lives enough with their penchant for over reaching.  Let football players, coaches, and officials police the situation.  We assume certain risks when we put on the pads, just as our military men and women (or police and firefighters) assume certain risks when they enlist and take the oath to protect and defend.
All Congress and politicians can do is screw up a good thing.

New York Buckeye

Ethos's picture


"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

jthiel09's picture

I'm guessing you had a few 11W tabs up at the same time and thought you were answering a different post's question ... Probably the article Kyle Rowland wrote?


ChazBuckeye's picture

Great article Jordan.  Vrabel has been one helluva recruiter and I can see him staying on OSU's staff for a while.  Which means his recruiting region will be patrolled like a boss!

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

Oldschoolbuck's picture

Love how Vrabel is killin it on the recruiting front. I'm sure it's pretty awesome to a recruit to see some of those SB rings!
The most amazing thing about him, IMO: 10 receptions/10 TDs!!
With apologies to CC, but (literally), all Vrabe's does is CATCH TOUCHDOWNS!

MAVBuck's picture

My favorite buckeye of all time. I was happy when Fick brought on but I was elated when he started doing as well as he did both on the field and on the phonelines. I have to imagine he's someone who just doesnt know how to lose and wont accept anything less than getting the job done 100%. What do you expect when hes been able to learn from the people he has?!