Recruiting: The Year's 11 Best Recruiting Moments

By Jeremy Birmingham on December 24, 2013 at 5:00p
Mike MItchell made Buckeyenation happy in 2013.

Like children or snowflakes, recruiting is unique for each and every prospect that we get to know over the year. Personalities vary, approaches (the way the prospect handles their recruitment and the way each school handles every recruit) vary and most certainly, results vary. There's no other way to put is there? Recruiting is a crapshoot that breaks your heart as often as it provides you reason to troll your rival fan base.

With 2013 quickly winding down, we're going to trek back through the most recent 12 month's biggest recruiting wins for Urban Meyer and Ohio State with the 2013 Top 11: Recruiting.

Today is a busy day for everyone, so let's cut the pleasantries and get to the meat and potatoes.


Da'Shawn refused to give Michigan a HandNot a Buckeye moment, but Hand choosing Bama was surprising.

For many moons, the prevailing knowledge around recruiting circles was that the University of Michigan was likely to reel in two of the nation's top five players in the 2014 class. With USA Today Defensive Player of the Year Jabrill Peppers in the fold for months and actively recruiting Da'Shawn Hand (the country's top defensive end,) many assumed that Hand — who had publicly stated Michigan was his leader for some time — was all but certainly a future member of "Team 135." In November, Hand chose Alabama in a decision that was shocking to many, and agitating to many others


Ohio State's recruiting has not suffered in many areas in the last decade-plus, and it's gotten even better since Urban Meyer's arrival in the fall of 2011. One area that had eluded Meyer — up until January's US Army All-American bowl — was the linebacking unit. In fact, through the entire 2012 calendar season, Ohio State's 2013 recruiting class (one of the nation's top three classes) had a big, fat, goose egg in the LB column.

Until January. In a ten-day span Meyer and his defensive staff reeled in three linebackers, Georgia's Trey Johnson, Texas wunderkind Mike Mitchell and Cleveland Glenville's Chris Worley. This trio is the foundation of Ohio State's defense in 2014 and beyond and will make big impacts soon.


Before his midsummer visit to Ohio State, the writing on the wall for Norfolk (Va.) star defensive end Jalyn Holmes was scribbled in Florida State's garnet and gold, but he was all Scarlet and Gray before he even left campus. Or was he?

Holmes made his intentions known prior to leaving Columbus, but wanted to travel back to Virginia to discuss his commitment plans with his coaches and teammates at Lake Taylor High School. Unfortunately for Holmes, the story found a way to the public a day earlier than he wanted and it led to some contentious moments between his mother and a networked Ohio State website. A day after the drama, Holmes committed to Ohio State as planned and the Buckeyes had landed the nation's 4th-ranked defensive end, stealing him from Florida State's grasp.


When Urban Meyer took the helm in Columbus, one of the events recruitniks were looking most forward to was Friday Night Lights. The camp, held annually inside Ohio Stadium's hallowed walls, is a showcase for the Buckeyes' program and many of the country's most talented prospects. This past July saw hundreds of recruits piled in for their shot at Buckeye glory, but it was Canton McKinley's Eric Glover-Williams, donning the famous "S" symbol of Superman, that left the thousands of fans buzzing with excitement.

Showcasing elite speed, incredible leaping ability and a knack for the big play, EGW made play after play, even calling out Buckeye commitment Dame Webb repeatedly in a memorable series of one-on-one drills. Williams lit up the field at wide receiver and at defensive back, and made more news just a few weeks later when he became Ohio State's first commitment for the 2015 recruiting class.

Friday Night Lights was another big successFNL introduced Buckeye fans to EGW and it was AOK.


After two quiet recruiting classes in 2012 and 2013, Ohio State's Thad Matta reeled in a top-five nationally-ranked class for 2014, a class that he was able to discuss at length in mid-November.

The jewel of the class, Louisville (Ky.) native D'Angelo Russell, is the nation's 17th-ranked player and a shooting guard that Matta is definitely looking forward to getting on campus. 

"Getting another great guard at Ohio State. In terms of what position is he – a point guard or a two-guard? I don't know, exactly. I think we can run him at both," Matta said on signing day. "He's got the ability to make big-time plays with the basketball in his hands, be it three-point shots, driving and getting fouled. He makes guys around him better. He's a guy that won a national championship as a high school player. Montverde (Fla.) is one of the top high school programs in the country, so he's been coached."


Junior days at Ohio State are usually when recruits get their first "real" look at what the Buckeyes have to offer them, and they often end with names not often heard of becoming regularly discussed players. On February 10th of 2013, the Buckeyes junior day got a bit extreme in a matter of moments. Within an hour, the Buckeyes received commitments from Kyle Trout, Parris Campbell and Lawrence Marshall, becoming Ohio State's second, third and fourth commitments for 2014. 

Marshall decommitted three days later — and eventually committed to his homestate Wolverines — but his commitment put Michigan on the watch: the Buckeyes were not going to be shy about recruiting "that state up north."


While the brief commitment of Marshall no doubt rattled some Maize and Blue cages, it was the January pledge of Cass Tech star defensive back Damon Webb that really rocked the foundation of recruiting up north. Aside from his substantial talent, Webb's verbal has helped Ohio State open the door to Cass Tech, one of Michigan's premiere football programs and a traditional Wolverine feeder school.

Since his commitment, Webb has been instrumental in helping recruit a number of other key players to Ohio State through various camps, Twitter interactions and it was the innovative spirit of Webb and his mother that is responsible for, the first "recruit for recruits" website we've ever seen. 


As the 2013 recruiting class was winding down, the Buckeyes and head coach Urban Meyer were waiting on one last vital piece of the puzzle, Georgia's Vonn Bell. Bell, a consensus five-star talent was back-and-forth in the final weeks of his recruitment according to most who watched it closely, but most didn't think Ohio State was a legitimate landing spot for the star safety, believing that Alabama and Tennessee were more viable options.

On national signing day, Bell took the stage in a nationally-televised ESPN announcement. This this happened. 

Then this happened.

Then this happened


There is no more polarizing athlete in Ohio, and perhaps the entire country, than LeBron James. The Akron born "King" has long been a vocal Buckeye supporter, even providing the Ohio State basketball program with shoes and gear emblazoned with his personal logo. The Buckeyes, of course, have returned the favor, holding tightly to the relationship they have with one of the world's most recognizable athletes.

In late September, James made an appearance in Columbus as the Buckeyes prepared to host a number of top basketball recruits in tandem with a huge night game on the gridiron against rival Wisconsin. James gave an inspiring pregame speech to the football team and addressed fans at Ohio State's "Skull Session." He was seen on the sideline throughout the game and was generally the biggest attraction (aside from the football game) on a night that included 106,000 scarlet-clad maniacs, fireworks, explosive plays and a nail-biting finish. 

It's good to be King, and it's good to be friends with the King as well.


When Nike invites you to their prestigious "The Opening," camp in Eugene, it's a surefire sign that you're a recruit worth watching. This past summer, no school was represented as heavily as Ohio State. Future Buckeyes littered the roster of every one of Nike's training camp squads, underscoring Ohio State's national appeal and Urban Meyer's ability to connect to players all over the country.

At the time of the event, Ohio State had 14 verbal commitments and a whopping nine of them were participants in The Opening. Jamarco Jones, an All-American lineman didn't get an invitation because of injured shoulder or that number certainly would have been 10. Since then, Ohio State has added commitments from "The Opening" participants seemingly left and right. Raekwon McMillan, Johnnie Dixon, Demetrius Knox, and Curtis Samuel have brought the Buckeyes' total to 13 of 19, an astounding number when you consider The Opening invited 145 total players from across the country. That's nearly 10-percent Buckeyes.

Ohio State Runs The Opening
Stephen Collier Quarterback Lee County, Ga.
Parris Campbell Running Back Akron, Ohio
Curtis Samuel Wide Receiver Brooklyn, NY
Johnnie Dixon Wide Receiver Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Terry McLaurin Wide Receiver Indianapolis, Ind.
Kyle Trout Offensive Line Lancaster, Ohio
Demetrius Knox Offensive Line Fort Worth, Texas
Dylan Thompson Defensive Line Lombard, Ill.
Jalyn Holmes Defensive Line Norfolk, Va.
Kyle Berger Linebacker Cleveland, Ohio
Dante Booker, Jr. Linebacker Akron, Ohio
Raekwon McMillan Linebacker Hinesville, Ga.
Damon Webb Defensive Back Detroit, Mich.

With Ohio State still chasing a number of key players in 2014 like defensive end Solomon Thomas and any other number of potential surprises, this number could still grow. It truly is a Buckeye nation.


I'll just leave this here. 

That was fun, wasn't it?


Comments Show All Comments

Seattle Linga's picture

Merry Christmas Everyone - Best GIF ever!

Wesleyburgess1's picture

Isn't it great to be a Buckeye fan...Best damn team in the land

Deadly Nuts's picture

I'm probably stupid for not knowing this but who is that in the last gif? Knox?


Urban Nation Army's picture


Bet you can't say "Bert Bielma is a bumbling buffoon" five times fast.

Deadly Nuts's picture

Whooops! My bad... I don't know how I didn't see that the past week.


dubjayfootball90's picture

Best HS LB in the country, my man. Best HS Lb in the country. :) Merry Christmas, good sir.

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

Seattle Linga's picture

Can't wait to see him ball on the field

HighBallAce's picture

Hope he does that over the piss and blue's quarterback several times next season and the following 3! Go ahead get down! Go Bucks!!!

13THandSummit's picture

The Bell announcement > LeBron on the sidelines for a game.

Ericgobucks's picture

Great write-up. I love to see Ohio State have a higher profile in All-Star games and with national recruits. I didn't personally have a problem with the philosophy of Tressel and company, but having cache with the top recruits nationally has already paid HUGE dividends.
We are on the short, short list many of the best players in the nation. It truly is a great time to be a Buckeye and it's only going to get better when we a defense worthy of complimenting our elite offense. 

Crimson's picture

Our defense: "Yo offense, you're so sweet!  You're elite!"

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

You can tell it's the holidays; everyone is running clip shows, even 11W.

MN Buckeye's picture

Ahhh . . . what a wonderful trip down gray box lane! Thanks Birm!

Ericgobucks's picture

I really don't understand the continued grudge against LeBron. I lived in Cleveland for a few years and always root for Cleveland teams, but seriously, get over it. He's the most famous and recognizable athlete on the planet. If some have "hesitation" to have LeBron affiliated with Ohio State on any level you are completely missing the point. If Jordan was huge in the internet age and 24 hour news cycle most people would have hated him, too. Jordan is and always has been a complete jerk, but LeBron has never been in trouble, no arrests, no teammate issues, is not selfish, is a freak athlete, and outside of "The Decision," has never done anything wrong... And I don't even watch the NBA. 

PWLafferty. TBDBITL. TRow.'s picture

Suggestion to you: do not tell Clevelander's what they should 'get over'.

"I'm up there with Chris and Dave Pass, getting ready to broadcast that game, and that band came out of that tunnel, I was wiping tears out of my eyes and all the memories came back." ~Urban Meyer

Ericgobucks's picture

Yes you shoulld definitely keep acting like your ex-girlfriend dumped you and became a playmate. Because that's what some of you "Clevelanders" sound like. It's petty jealousy. Grow up. 

Bolt's picture

I just don't understand why Cleveland fans aren't allowed to dislike a player. I'm sure you've got plenty of players and teams that you dislike and for far more trivial reasons than why Cleveland fans dislike LeBron. If we have to get over our dislike of LeBron, you should get over yourself. It's sports, we have teams/players we like and teams/players we don't like. That's the way it works...for everyone.

Ericgobucks's picture

You are allowed to dislike a player. But when you hate a player you formerly loved who spurned you for another team, you are bitter. Bitterness isn't healthy. And you and all the other LeBron haters would welcome him back with open arms if he tried to re-sign with Cleveland. 

Bolt's picture

No, I've very openly on here said I don't want him back. We weren't good enough for him then why would we be good enough for him now. We're working on building something ourselves and it would feel dirty to me if he tried to jump back on the bandwagon when we're good again. I can't think of too many reasons other than bitterness for why people dislike the athletes that they dislike. Yes, I'd call my distaste for LeBron bitterness. You act like this is some sort of new or heinous concept. Ohio State fans not liking Desmond Howard because he's from Ohio, he beat Ohio State and posed in the end zone is bitterness. It's part of being a sports fan. Unless you can tell me with a straight face you like all teams and all athletes alike, I will call you a hypocrite. Everyone dislikes athletes out of either a.) bitterness, b.) some sort of stupid trivial reason (ie - "I don't like people named Paul so I don't like Paul George") c.) or for some sort of personal matter that has nothing to do with the fan personally (ie - Tiger Woods). Reasons b and c, in most cases, end up being even dumber reasons than a. 

Bolt's picture

Oi, this ol' bag of shit again. Eric, do you watch sports? Who's your favorite team? Who's your favorite athlete? Who's your least favorite team? Who's your least favorite athlete? Or do you like them all (In which case I don't consider you a sports fan).

SpoonerBuck33's picture

Amazing write up Birm, thanks and merry Xmas!

45has2's picture

Merry Christmas, Buckeye Faithful.

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

Jdadams01's picture

My personal list would have Bell and Kwon 1 and 2. Order doesn't matter. Those 2 commits were huge and had so much anticipation. The Bell one may have an edge because it seemed like the large majority weren't thinking OSU was the choice.

Seattle Linga's picture

D Wilson is up there as well because he was slated to go to Oregon and then Chipper left and the rest was history.

Oldschoolbuck's picture

Merry Christmas, Buckeye brethren & sisteren; Feliz Navidad; "peace on earth"...

harleymanjax's picture

Vol fan reaction will never get old!

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

brandonbauer87's picture

Seems like the Knox situation should be top 10. How many other recruits invaded 11W?

AndyVance's picture

I was thinking the same thing... Where's the love for Meechy?

TMac's picture

Shhhh, giving out 11W Helmet Stickers are an NCAA violation !

ONE Not Done!

BamaBuckeye144's picture

We've been truly blessed as Buckeye fans. I'm very grateful for that. Think about this. We're looking at title contending teams for the next four to five years if Meyer didn't recruit anyone else. 


buckeyedude's picture

I love the importance that Urban Fricking Meyer puts on recruiting. Obviously 3* can turn into great players. No debating that. But the odds of a team full of 4* and 5* being successful are > than a team full of 2* and 3*.
I was trolling on the Detroit Free Press yesterday, and there was an article on the recruiting success that MSU is having since they won the B1G. An MSU fan actually said, "No thanks. We(MSU) don't want 4* and 5* like TTUN gets. Look what they've done to their team!"
I truly think this person actually believed what he said.(No sarcasm font available). And then there were several other MSU fans that responded positively and concurred with his comments.



2014nationalchamps's picture

as much as I hate Lebron, I guess Im glad he's still with the good guys. Im waiting for him to drop the other shoe and screw us Ohioans again, but until then anything we can get to help the Bucks, I'll take it.

O-H-I-O  for life