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. 

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