Urban Meyer's Recruiting Philosophy Differs From Jim Tressel's, and That's Fine

By Jeff Beck on December 20, 2013 at 11:30a
Nabbin another out-of-stater

Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes just had a monster recruiting week reeling in two of the nation’s premiere talents at LB and WR to add to an already sterling class. The commitments of Raekwon McMillan and Johnnie Dixon reverberated across the nation as Ohio State swooped in and stole a few jewels out of the South, proving once again that Urban Meyer’s pipelines across the Mason-Dixon Line are alive and well.

Assembling the best players in the nation to play for Ohio State has always been a mandate for the head man in Columbus, but the last two have gone about it differently. During his time as the football Commander-In-Chief, Jim Tressel chose to win the state of Ohio. Not a bad strategy considering it ranks in the top five in terms of high-school football talent

On the other hand, Meyer has chosen to cast a wider net, gathering players from a number of different states to assemble his army.

In order to take a closer look, I’ve compiled the home-state breakdowns of each coaches’ recruiting classes during their tenure. Obviously we’re dealing with a lot more players when talking Tressel. In his decade at the helm he roped in 203 players compared with Meyer’s 53. So, it’s important to keep sample size into account when looking at these charts.

Tress States % Of Recruits From State   Meyer States % of Recruits From State
Ohio 60.5     Ohio 35.8
Florida 9.7   Texas 7.5
Pennsylvania 6.7   Georgia 7.5
Georgia 3.0   Illinois 5.6
Michigan 2.9   Indiana 5.6
Canada 1.9   Florida 5.6
Maryland 1.9   Pennsylvania 3.7
Indiana 1.9   Massachusetts 3.7
California 1.9   North Carolina 3.7
Illinois 1.9   New Jersey 3.7
Texas 1.3   Missouri 2.0
New Jersey 1.0   South Carolina 2.0
Minnesota 1.0   Colorado 2.0
Virginia 1.0   California 2.0
West Virginia 0.5   Mississippi 2.0
Louisiana 0.5   Virginia 2.0
Missouri 0.5   Kentucky 2.0
New York 0.5   New York 1.8
South Carolina 0.5   Michigan 1.8
Kentucky 0.5      
North Carolina 0.5      

A few things jump out right away, particularly the percentage of Ohio players Tressel brought on (60.5%) compared with what Meyer has done thus far (35.8%). Looking at those same numbers in a different way, 39.5% of Tressel’s recruits came from out of state compared with 64.2% of Meyer’s recruiting classes. 

That doesn’t mean Tressel and his staff never ventured outside Buckeye lines. In fact, during his tenure the Senator recruited a total of 20 states plus Canada compared to 19 total states for Meyer. Still there’s no denying Meyer has pulled more from his plethora of states than JT.

Tressel long held the belief that recruiting Ohio kids served two purposes: 1. As aforementioned, it’s one of the most talent rich states in the union and 2. Ohio kids get it. From Hang On Sloopy to Script Ohio and The Game. Buckeye State recruits are exactly that…Buckeyes. They grew up with it, they’ve lived it. They understand what it means to don the Scarlet and Gray. There’s no extra motivation needed heading into the Michigan game. Ohio kids have been wanting to BEAT MICHIGAN since they could walk.

That’s one approach and there’s no denying it worked. Tressel won a lot of games primarily utilizing talent out of Ohio, but that’s not to say it’s the only way to build a winner on the banks of the Olentangy. All it takes is a little time on campus for out-of-state recruits to understand how much the tradition of Ohio State football means to the community. Kids like Joey Bosa (Florida) and Dontre Wilson (Texas) are just as much Buckeye as Braxton Miller (Huber Heights, OH). It just took them a little longer to realize it.

In a divergence from Tressel, Meyer believes he can find Buckeyes all over the country…and he’s been doing it. Pulling heavily from states like Texas, Georgia, and Florida Urban and his staff have been planting flags left and right. Con: These kids might not know everything about Buckeye Nation right away. Pro: Grabbing premium talent from a variety of states builds Ohio State’s brand and opens pipelines for future recruiting. Seems like the pro outweights the con to me.

It’s clear Tressel and Meyer go about building recruiting classes differently. One pulled primarily from the state of Ohio, while the other chooses to reel in talent from across the country. It’s hard to argue with either approach as both coaches have won their way. So get excited about a new era of recruiting in Columbus. Here’s to welcoming Buckeyes from across the country into the fold. 


Comments Show All Comments

Squirrel Master's picture

You sure its not the Raekwon-Dixon line?

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

DiasporaBuck's picture

Moral upvote (my helmet isn't sticky enough to upvote yet)

OSU Class of 1999

D-Day0043's picture

Well played! Well played!

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

BTwrestle04's picture

Who was from Canada?

Hovenaut's picture

I think Simon Fraser, iirc - DE on the '03 team (backup on the '02 NC team).
*EDIT* Started to bug me, went and looked this up:
It was Mike Roberts from the 2002 class, a DB who wound up transferring to Indiana State.
Sorry for throwing everyone off on Fraser - don't know where I got that from.

osu07asu10's picture

I don't believe he was. I think he went to Upper Arlington in Columbus and I believe that he was actually part of Cooper's last class

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

BrooklynBuckeye's picture

Yeah, Simon went to Upper Arlington. State champs his senior year. He was a freshman in 01. Tressel's first year.

osu07asu10's picture

haha hey I was partially correct!

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

Hovenaut's picture

You're right....can't think of who it was.
I also thought Brent Johnson, but think he also played under Coop.

stittracer99's picture

According to the percentages, there would have been 4 recruits under Tress to come from Canada. I used Scout, which goes all the way back to the 2002 recruiting class, and the only one I found was Mike Roberts, CB, from Scarborough, ON. Tress would have had a class in 2001 as well...maybe there were 3 guys from the Great White North in that class?

Hovenaut's picture

I found the same ST - edited my original post above - from a breakdown of Tress' classes found on BuckeyePlanet (link included above).

osu07asu10's picture

flexin your MOD muscles to edit that!

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

Hovenaut's picture

Yep....they had started to atrophy.

UFest57's picture

I think Fraser went to Upper Arlington and won a state title...

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

Sorry for throwing everyone off on Fraser - don't know where I got that from.

Simon Fraser is one of the best schools in Canada, and the only one to compete in the NCAA.

CanadianBuckeye's picture

I see Urbz aint recruiting any Canucks!  GRRRRRR *Shakes Fist Violently*
It is still a bit early with Urban's guys just coming in and there still being a lot of Tressel's players as upperclassmen but I think we are heading in a great direction.  Different philosphies, but both are proven to win!
Go Bucks!

DiasporaBuck's picture

You bring up a good point though: UFM has recruited from the opposite side of the planet with Cameron Johnston, so we should add Australia to the right-hand column.  Gotta love it!  (I want to see him take the ball and run again!)

OSU Class of 1999

Hovenaut's picture

I liked Tress' recruiting philosophy, and the results spoke for themselves.
Times change, and I think Urban's philosophy reinforces Ohio State's place among the nation's elite.....by recruiting elite players across the nation. By keeping a good hold on the best preppers out of the home state and maintaining a solid presence across the country Urban and staff will definitely keep the Buckeyes in the mix.
In the past, I looked at the talent Cooper sent to the NFL, never paying much attention to recruiting during his tenure.
Again, thought Tressel did right by fencing off Ohio.
I've really gotten into the excitement of recruiting, we are truly blessed to have a program with such history, the resources and staff so driven to bring in the best - talent and character - to Columbus.
The fact that Urban has cast the net far and wide with results is phenomenal.

45has2's picture

The only way this could hurt us is the snub factor. Coach Flintstone is going to continue to recruit The Buckeye State hard and if he gets enough Buckeyes on his squad he can play the "they think you aren't good enough" card. Ohio high school coaches that are high on a particular kid that doesn't get a sniff from Urb may grow resentful and steer kids towards ttun. Overall, I think it's a minor thing and I'm glad that UFM is seeking out the best in the country.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

Hovenaut's picture

Recruiting in the state of Ohio?
Just another long standing M...igan tradition.
They're just not seeing the results they used to see.
Meanwhile, Urban has made his own inroads up there.....see Webb, Damon.

HotSauceCommittee's picture

I was arguing with my wife's cousin yesterday about this. Her family are all MI fans and live in MI. He was actually trying to convince people that the reason why MI football is down is because MI keeps pulling players and coaches from Ohio, thus making them worse. He stated he believes that they should quit recruiting Ohio kids. In the same crazy jibberish he stated "Hoke is a MI Man".
I threw like 20 top MI players at him from the state of Ohio, the fact that 1/3 of MI current roster is from Ohio (historically as well) and corrected his MI Man garbage and informed him that Ohio ranks next to only TX and FL for high school talent and promptly told him that MI is losing its in state talent to Sparty and the Buckeyes that is just as big of a problem for TTUN!
It was a fun arguement since it was obvious how wrong he was. Plus I got to reference Elvis Grbac and Zoltan Mesko in the same sentence.

HandsOfSweed's picture

There's nothing quite like understanding someone's heritage and traditions far better than they do and then proving it to them. Nice work.

HotSauceCommittee's picture

He didnt quite have a response when I asked him "if Ohio players bring MI down, then why is Ohio State 'up' right now when most of their players are from Ohio?"

Hovenaut's picture

HotSauceCommitte 1,
Wife's cuzzin 0

cuttyrock's picture

I think the percentage of kids will probably be around 45% from the state. If we land 5 more it's a possibility that 3 could be from Ohio. Jim Tressel 60% was great but to win an NC you need the right type of players in Urban Meyer system. For instance, I honestly think if Urban Meyer was here then Shane Wynn would be a Buckeye. He's too good in open space and fits the scheme. His only knock was size and he's bigger than Dontre Wilson. So I can see some players not getting offered when Tressel was head coach would offer but I can see some players maybe Tressel wouldn't offer due to various reasons also coming under Urban Meyer.

John Brandon's picture

Good breakdown Jeff, interesting to see the decrease in Florida recruits, I think that will surprise some people

osu07asu10's picture

I'm maybe a bit surprised it has fallen off under Meyer in regards to Florida recruits, but am not surprised by Tressel's numbers.
Cooper opened that pipeline up in the 90s and Tressel kept it open with players like Lydell Ross, Chris Gamble, Santonio Holmes, Mo Wells, Mike Brewster, Jeff Heuerman, etc...

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

As Jeff notes, it's a small sample size, but my initial impressions are that . . .
Along with JT's Ohio-first approach, he tended to land out-of-state prospects on an opportunistic basis, which more often meant 3/3.5 star kids who were not in the "Top 100" lists, etc. As such, it made sense that he'd get relatively high numbers from FLA:

  1. If the recruiting staff leans more toward an Ohio-first approach, not devoting considerable resources to an aggressive nationwide effort, focusing on FLA can help economize their efforts;
  2. Florida, along with Texas and California, is one of the three states with a large supply of 3/3.5 star kids who might not be "Under Armour All Americans," etc., but who have elite-level talent - i.e., FLA is a prime state for plucking "under the radar" studs.

In contrast, Urbz and company are going after the "Top 100" guys and taking a more national approach. As such, we'd expect to see a wider distribution of states.
Again, though, the above "observations" are mere impressions based on small sample size.

BuckToAsT's picture

JT might have gone up to Canada to yank one or two, but Urbz went Down Under!

BamaBuckeye144's picture

I tend to over analyze things, I'll admit. So one of my first thoughts was 'Does this mean Urban buys into the idea that talent down south is better?' He's not nearly as focused on Pennsylvania and Ohio as Tressel was. However, I do like the mix. We need to be looking in all states, under every rock to find superstars.


Run_Fido_Run's picture

I'm not sure about that. Again, small sample size, but the shift in distribution of states might be more of a product of Urbz's national approach versus reflecting an emphasis on the south/southeast.
Certainly, if you look at the southern/southeastern "football" states (note: I'm counting Texas but not Kentucky) as a percentage of the total (including Ohio), it looks like Urbz's is concentrating more in those states - with roughly 30-percent of recruits from those states now compared to only 15-percent under JT.
However, if you look at S/SE states as a percentage of non-Ohio states, roughly 47-percent of all out-of-state Meyer recruits were from the S/SE versus roughly 40-percent under JT - not a big difference.
[edit: along these lines, you'll also notice increases in NJ, ILL, IND, MA, Mizz, NY, etc.].

BamaBuckeye144's picture

Good analysis, and I agree. I will say this (just from a perception standpoint). Meyer seems to expect to get blue chips from the south. I think JT just hoped some would fall in his lap. Totally different approaches, again, based on the eye test only.
I guess in retrospect, after writing that, it makes perfect sense that Meyer should expect kids from the south. He knows all the coaches down there and expects those relationships to pay off. He recruits the south like he's still coaching Florida.
I am impressed though that the fact that it's Ohio State (too cold, northern, slow school, blah, blah) hasn't hurt his recruiting skills in the south at all. Convincing southern kids to come to the north to play ball can't be a cake walk.


chitown buckeye's picture

I think the cold NFL season we have had also plays a role in some of these kids nowadays. I know its been discussed "come to OSU and learn to play in the cold" and I think it is actually starting to pay off a bit. I think recruits or their advisors are realizing that yeah its great in the sunny south but it doesnt matter what team you play for in the NFL you are going to have to play in the cold. Better to learn it young and be an asset to the team then get drafted by NY and not be able to handle the weather. Also with the Suerbowl being in the North this year it makes it even more noticeable. It is a great selling point to these kids.

"I'm having a heart attack!"

BamaBuckeye144's picture

That's a good point and honestly one I never thought about. I'd upvote you if I could upvote you. ;)


HandsOfSweed's picture

I did it for you and gave you a couple also. Both of you are spot-on.

BamaBuckeye144's picture

Thanks!! I appreciate that!


causeicouldntgo43's picture

Now if we could just get those "Southurn skools" to come North for an on-campus play-off game in December, the ones who stayed South for college could get a real education in cold weather football......

DiasporaBuck's picture

What I wouldn't give to watch a BCS bowl game played in the snow, regardless of who's in it.  #footballweather  #manup

OSU Class of 1999

dc28's picture

I notice that Urban isn't going to recruit a 2* kid or 3* kid in the state of Ohio because of loyalty to the high school or state. He is going to get the Very Best from across the country. He is targeting playmakers everywhere. I think Tress recruited some kids because of his loyalty to a particular school or program. Look at Trotwood Madison, Tress didn't recruit there. Wait until Urban gets 4 years of his talent and I think you will see a huge difference between the way he recruits and Tress did. If you look at the really good teams, if there is an injury then the next guy up is just as good. Under Tress I don't think we had that depth. Tress would trot out 11 of the best players everyday on offense, defense and special teams but if one player went down, we were screwed. Example would be Tedd Ginn Jr in the National Championship Game. After he got hurt we had no down field threat at all. Urban will trot out his 11 best on offense, defense and special teams as well but he has another 11 top notch offense, defense and special teams players he can turn to. This is just my opinon.

"Never Settle For Second When First Is Available"


yrro's picture

I think it really depends on the position. We had some serious "next man up" type moments on defense. On offensive line, not so much.

d5k's picture

Carpenter goes down vs. UM, Laurinaitis steps in...

BoFuquel's picture

You got to trust Da Coyach, or you got nuttin'. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

bethesdabuck's picture

It would be interesting to know what percentage of UFM's recruits at Florida were from Florida. I think another aspect here, that is occasionally referenced, is demographics. Whether we'd like to admit it or not, there has been a demographic shift going on for some time now; and I don't see it letting up any time soon. That will continue to adversely affect the depth of talent in Ohio. 

DIRTYBUCK's picture

Where is Australia?....Mate

bcksfan07's picture

I had the same thought when I read the list. No love for Cameron Johnston!

teddyballgame's picture

Great work!
It would be interesting to see a breakdown like this for other top programs as well.  Do you think the majority of their recruits are also from out of state?

chinooker97's picture

Best part of this picture...Coach Coombs' face.

"Because we couldn't go for three."

Bamabucknut's picture

How important...how much attention does Urban put into OHIO recruiting  ?
He has already offered an Ohio 2017 player and got an acceptance.

HandsOfSweed's picture

Interesting to see Urb tap into the North Carolina talent pipeline. Wonder what Petey Pablo thinks about this development?

GVerrilli92's picture

UNC and NC State have been NFL D-Linemen factories as of late. Quinton Coples, Mario Williams, Nate Irving (hybrid LB), Tim Jackson, Kareem Martin. Not to mention Julius Peppers. The state seems to have one per NFL draft now. Just off the top of my head, these names.

I got a gray kitty, white kitty, tabby too, and a little orange guy who puts snakes in my shoes. Got mad MC skills, that leave ya struck, and I roll with my kitties and I'm hard as f*ck.

Osu2105's picture

You can throw Robert Quinn in there too. Something like 15.5 sacks this year

Bradyhokescholesterol's picture

Play that fiery guitar, Jeff Beck.

klfeck's picture

I'd like to see Urban continue the fence around Ohio that Tressel built while also continuing his National search for recruits. It was always a sense of Pride under Tressel to be able to proclaim that most of the team was actually from Ohio. Not a lot of big time schools can say that.



Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University

buckskin's picture

I loved Tress, but my biggest concern with his teams was depth.  For example, look at that national title year in 02.  Clarett goes down and there is a major drop off in RB production.  Of course we expect some drop off, but the whole offense changed when he was not in the game.  Fast forward to 2013.  Carlos Hyde had a monster year, but when he's out, Eze was more than ready to fill his shoes; plus many more behind him.  This is one example, but I feel is indicative of Tress's OSU teams. 
Tress could also mine/coach 3 star players into elite NFL players like no other.  

Nutinpa's picture

I will nitpick you only on the "depth" or lack thereof issue with Tress vs. Urbs.
When Tress had a linebacker go down....a la Carpenter vs. Michigan in 2006, he had JL to take his place.  There were other examples.  Now? If we have a LB go down we are in deep s**t. Same with this secondary.  Maybe Meyer has greater depth, but it's either the players or the coaches, but on the Defensive side of the ball, they sure as hell are not being developed like the Tressel coached kids did.  A quick-trigger response, but that is my impression.
As for Hyde and the stable of RBs behind him....while EZE shows great promise, judging by the lack of playing time the 2s and 3s had as RBs, neither Drayton nor Meyer must have had a lot of confidence in them, cuz they sure did not get much playing time in close games.  Not sure that says much about "depth" at RB....or that Hyde was just too valuable to sit down.

woodcocklives@osu's picture

Fast forward to 2013.  Carlos Hyde had a monster year, but when he's out, Eze was more than ready to fill his shoes; plus many more behind him.  This is one example, but I feel is indicative of Tress's OSU teams.

This is just plain silly, on so many levels.

Nutinpa's picture

The more I see your blunt disagreement with an earlier posting about "depth levels" between Tress and Meyer, the more I agree. 
That is....for a team that won 24 games in a row....then lost painfully to Sparty, I think the notion that Meyer's team is "deeper" is far fetched.  Our 'back 7' on defense are downright pitiful in the two deep.  You can argue that the new kids never got their chance to play, and that is a fair point.  But the coaches decide that, not us.  So if they weren't seeing playing time, then men who get paid to decide did so and told us something about Meyer's "depth".
While Elfein played well for Hall, we held our breath about the O Line.  Luckily nobody went down this year.  Had they....we can only wonder.  Miller is already telegraphing what he thinks about O line depth, while chirping about his stay vs. leave decision.
So net/net....the argument about "depth" between JT and Meyer is yet to be played out. For a team with a supposed shit-locker full of highly regarded recruits....there was a stark lack of PT for many of them.

CowCat's picture

Great read!
Urban's national recruiting can be read two ways, both of which are true.
"Urban wants the best player, no matter where they come from" (true)
"Urban Meyer and his reputation raises the national/international perception of The Ohio State University. More people identify as Buckeyes"  (true).
As far as the in-state/out-of-state comparison, I think it's a toss-up.   In-state kids have a head start on the traditions.   Out-of-state families make a huge commitment:   Mom, Dad, Grandma and everyone need to buy in to being a Buckeye before sending their 17 year old kid away.
All in all, Buckeye Nation is the largest CFB family on earth (3.1 million estimated worldwide).  Anyone with class and understanding is welcome!

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

farleybucks's picture

I would be interested to see the same stats for Cooper.  He was sometimes bashed as not being an Ohio guy and overlooking some local talent for out of state talent.  Some of his teams were LOADED, but he did not have the success everyone hoped or thought he should have had.  It kind of touches upon non-ohio talent not having the deep roots of knowing Ohio tradition and how important THE Game is.

d5k's picture

Or Michigan was just a lot better then than they are now.  And I don't think it was a motivation issue at all, just out-schemed out-executed consistently in the big games.

MotownBuck's picture


Trotwood-Madison. Once a Ram, Always a Ram.

MotownBuck's picture

That's what I was thinking. Would love to see a breakdown for Cooper's tenure.
Some of those teams were the most loaded teams to EVER step foot on the field for the Scarlet & Gray.
I remember a lot of Ohio guys under him. Big Daddy, Terry Glenn, Joey Galloway, Vrabel, Katzenmoyer, Hoying, Winfield, LeCharles, Ahmad Plummer, Nate Clemments, etc
But he had a lot of guys from out of state to help load those teams up as well. Shawn Springs (VA), Eddie George (PA? NJ?), Joe Germaine (CO), Dudley & Boston (TX), Na'il Diggs & Rambo (CA)
I get the feeling Urb is going to be closer to Coop in his recruiting reach. But would love to see the data
*Pushes up scarlet colored nerd glasses*

Trotwood-Madison. Once a Ram, Always a Ram.

Nuts4Bucks13's picture

As long as we keep as many Ohio guys from Michigan as possible, I'm fine with it.

ECBeastor's picture

Not sure if these are included in the totals but Ohio boys Corey Smith and Cardale Jones really aren't from Mississippi and Virginia they just went to JUCO/Prep School there for a year. That adds a little more to Ohio for Urb if considered but still much less than Tress.  

d5k's picture

Tressel had some Fork Union guys too obviously.

kcbrez's picture

I support the idea of "winning the state of Ohio," but I think it's important to bring some of the kids in from out-of-state as well. It seems to my untrained eye that the high school game is played a certain way in certain parts of the country, and it must be helpful to have more than one type of in-game experience on the roster.

Bloombergl's picture

Let me start by saying, I absolutely love Coach M and would not change anything about who we are and the kids that are becoming Buckeyes (thank you 'kwon).  I welcome change.
I was born and raised in Ohio.  I'm a diehard Buckeye football fan, although I didn't actually attend tOSU.  That said, I've always felt a bit of pride when hometown kids do world class things playing football for the Buckeyes.  Under Coach Tress, as the stats prove, we had hometown kids doing just that - winning a crystal football (think Donny Nickey from Plain City).  While I absolutely love what Urbz is bringing to our team, we must admit that times have changed.  We're no longer the underdogs from Ohio facing the Goliath from "the U".
For example...  Trust me, I'm as big a fan of RDS as you'll find.  However, my favorite Buckeye of all time is Spiels, from Massillon.
I suppose my point is this....   let's acknowledge that times have changed.  Let's be sure we still get the best kids from in-state.  And, let's all be sure we educate the out-of-state Buckeyes what it feels like to be a Buckeye (I'll never forget ttun, literally, running out of the tunnel and over Mr and Mrs Bellisari as they walked out for Senior Day in the 'shoe - no class).

cdub4's picture

Even in 2002 though, you mentioned Nickey, but Craig Krenzel,,Chris Gamble and Will Smith along with Doss and Clarett were probably more important than Nickey. The first the I mentioned were out of state recruits. The first four were Cooper recruits in reality...actually Tress pulled Gamble out of Fla.

I have always said guys like Jack Tatum (NJ) and Eddie George (Pa) are Buckeye legends, and more recently Tress had defense led by Malcolm Jenkins ( NJ) JL (Minn) both fan favorites. As long as OSU recruits the top 5-7 Ohioans each year, I don't care if the other 15 or so are from the Czech Republic.