Recruiting: Impact of Vrabel's Departure

By Jeremy Birmingham on January 9, 2014 at 7:31p
How will Vrabel's departure hurt recruiting?

Well, this has been kind of a whirlwind afternoon, hasn't it? First we hear of the unfortunate news of Mike Vrabel leaving Ohio State (unexpectedly) and then minutes later we get the official announcement of Braxton Miller's return for his senior season. We'll use this space to address the first and how it impacts Ohio State's 2014 recruiting class.

Let's get right to it.


Straight away, the big question that people will ask is this: "Will this cause any of the Buckeyes' current commitments to look elsewhere?" Simply put, the answer to this is a strong "No, I don't think so."

There are a handful of recruits inside of Ohio State's recruiting class that had Vrabel as the lead guy in their recruitment, but the big three of Dylan Thompson, Jamarco Jones and Jalyn Holmes are the biggest three to have any concerns with. Jones and Thompson have gotten very close with Vrabel in the past year, and they're certainly stinging from the news. 

Jalyn Holmes, the Norfolk (Va.) four-star defensive end is the player that most were concerned about and the guy who I'd be least surprised to hear about receiving "feelers" from other schools hoping to slide into the Buckeyes' place. He's not from Ohio, has a ton of big offers, would have been coached directly by Vrabel and had gotten very close to him. However, Holmes was quick to get on Twitter after the announcement today and his tweets should assuage any concerns that he would look elsewhere at this point,

Thompson does not have the big offers that Holmes does, but is another guy that had gotten incredibly close with Vrabel and I can't help but think he's hurting from the news more than any of the other guys. As of now, Thompson isn't talking about the news, but it's clear that he's hurting and I'd not be surprised if the Buckeyes have a bit of work to do in alleviating his sadness about the departure. That said, and this goes for all the guys affected, they've committed to Ohio State, to Urban Meyer and to their future teammates, not just one coach. 

Bottom line, I don't expect any recruits that are currently committed to Ohio State to sign anywhere other than Ohio State.


This is the one area that you can expect Vrabel's departure to immediately hurt Ohio State's recruiting efforts. While the majority of the 2014 class is figured out, the last few pieces of the puzzle included — at least hopefully for Ohio State — one or both of Coppell (Texas) defensive end Solomon Thomas or Detroit (Mich.) end Malik McDowell, both of whom Vrabel was closely involved with. I'd imagine that each of these pursuits will be seriously impacted and potentially to an unrecoverable degree. 


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Thomas's picture

Good news about Jalyn Holmes. Feel like he could be the gem of the class. 

BassDropper's picture

Same. I think he could be the star of the class


gm3jones's picture

Good pick! My pick is Stephen Collier. I think he will be a stud. My second pick is Kwon of course. I see him having an impact day one.

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

Joe4's picture

Thanks for the quick write up. Bummer about Thomas & McDowell. I guess that's the way recruiting goes -- sometimes you're on the right side and can grab a D. Wilson or N. Spence, and sometimes this happens...

dubjayfootball90's picture

Not good with the uncommitted. I know that Vrabel was having a major impact on SOloman Thomas' recruitment. That will be a tough one to pull from TX now, that is for sure.
Good to see Jalyn understands the big picture of what he committed to, that always is a plus to hear, for sure.
Not we gotta get some in depth work on Thomas' visit (same with Mcdowell).

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

InTressITrust's picture

What about Tim Seattle?

"I'm not going to lie. We're anxious to be a part of a matchup like that. It's two states that love the game of football." -Jim Tressel

dugtheplumber's picture

Sorry to see Vrabel go. He's a great Buckeye. Good luck to him.


dan_isaacs's picture

Agreed, he did a great job, and I hate to see him go, but this was a great opportunity.  Hopefully he's back in a few years as our DC.  :)

Dan Isaacs

Kevdaddy8's picture

Damage control by Urban is gonna be really important these next few weeks!  Gotta get some names floating around in the pool of potentials...some big names!

gm3jones's picture

Not to keen on "big name" position coaches. Would rather have a grinder and mentor for our kids. Someone who will, like Kwon tweeted after Clemson loss, is ready to go to war for you, coach. I would rather have that then some rock star guy. We already have that in Meyer :-)

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

FROMTHE18's picture

Glad to see that the current commits are along the same thinking as I am, they appear to all be very solid still. I feel slightly depressed losing Vrabel...hope Urban hits the nail on the head with the new hires. 

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Urban will have to personally contact these guys and give them some quality time and reassurance.  The buckeyes have one of the biggest payrolls in all of college sports, of course we'll get another good coach.  Vrable ... great guy and great recruiter, is a LB coach after all, not the OC.  Still, it hurts but you have to wish him the best in the pros.  I'm thinking recruits might be more concerned about how the defense in general is going to get amped up.  All the great recruits growing up and coming in will help considerably.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

John Brandon's picture

Really felt good about Solomon Thomas to OSU, but switching the Crystal Ball to Stanford in lieu of the Vrabel news

Sebastian's picture

John , is there any news your hearing about replacements for Withers and Vrabel?

ajg OSU 5's picture

Didn't Stanfords dline coach just leave to go to Boise and Thomas said it doesn't really play a factor? Why would it be different with OSU. I mean we still got Urban f*cking Meyer in charge

Muck Fichigan

John Brandon's picture

No, Stanford's quarterback coach left (he happened to be Thomas' primary recruiter) but Thomas said it wasn't a big deal because it wouldn't be his position coach

Rjr88's picture

Vrabel upped our cool factor by 10x ... How could this not hurt recruiting?  Sucks


nm_buck's picture

Vrabel to Soloman T:  "You need great exposure and you will get that at tOSU.  I can easily follow your every step as a Buckeye, because I have great relationships at the WHAC.  Iin three years I will make sure the Texans know everything about you."
(fingers crossed)

"The future is bright at Ohio State."  - Urban Meyer 1/1/15

mtrotb's picture

Urban is the lead recruiter on Thomas currently.


Jordan Wagner's picture

I'm going to wait to see what staff hires Ohio State and Texas makes before switching anything on Thomas. The dead period ends in a week and OSU could be without a DL coach. I'm assuming the job will have to be posted due to state law. 

ChazBuckeye's picture

This last paragraph is what i meant on another thread. Its not the recruits who've committed already...its the ones who haven't that I feel it will effect. But the best part is OSU still has the best in the business...UFM;-)

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.

1stYrBuckIClub's picture

I'm wondering what reason the hiring couldn't wait until after national signing day. I realize this is the coach hiring period, but leaving with 3 highly rated DL recruits coming in weeks for official visits (if they still take place) hurts. Missing on that depth could have major consequences.

teddyballgame's picture

Pulling a bait-and-switch by sitting on information just long enough to get commits seems pretty shady.  That's probably not the kind of reputation you want to earn.  What was Vrabel going to do now? Be quiet for the rest of the recruiting process?  End up saying something like "I honestly had no clue I was going to leave the day after you signed... good luck and cya!"
OSU remains an attractive program with or without Vrabel on the coaching staff.

jkrk's picture

Yeah, that would be so . . .

1stYrBuckIClub's picture

I didn't mean to take the job and announce it after signing day, I meant for even interviewing for a job... Poor timing by Vrabel and he had to know the impact it would have on recruiting 3 weeks out from signing day. I wish him all the best of course, and he's a Buckeye through and through. Guess I always figured he was a Buckeye who wanted to coach, not a coach who happened to be a Buckeye. 

Oyster's picture

Tell us when a good time to take a new job is then?  After spring ball?  All the coaches that could replace you have moved into their new jobs during the annual coaching carousel in December and January.  Certainly not during the season either.  So you have the period before a bowl game or right after.  It's an annual event and it happens everywhere.   

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

Red Shirt Ensign's picture

Once a Buckeye always a Buckeye....  I can hardly think of a former player that this applies more too than Vrabel.  certainly right up there with Archie, Eddie, Spielman.  a decade from now he may be replacing UFM as an "Ohio State Man", but to do that he needs to take the opportunities presented to him to gain experience!  BNest of Luck to Mke Vrabel!

"Captain, over here, I've found someth... AHHHH!!!!!!"


ABrown07's picture

It probably helps OSU that he left this early because now we have a chance to find a good coach to replace him and make contact to those recruits affected by his departure and maybe heal the relationship with weeks to do that instead of a week or just days. This isn't a bad thing, I hope one day he'll come back with all his experience and lead us again in some capacity.

I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people.

-Woody Hayes

BassDropper's picture

If Thomas and McDowell are out, who is in?


allbucksallthetime's picture

Damn!  I loved Vrabel as a player, followed him in the NFL, and was thrilled when he returned to tOSU.  However, change is part of the college football landscape and these sort of things are not unexpected.
I wish Coach Vrabel and his family nothing but the best moving forward.  Go Bucks!

J.Mo's picture

This sucks! Eff you Bill O'Brien. I thought you were cool before you took my favorite position coach.
This leaves the door open to bring Heacock back to Ohio State and him being the d-coordinator. I wasn't always hesitant with jumping on the fire Fickell bandwagon because I thought if he goes, so does Vrabel. Well maybe it's time for a new start with the defensive coaches (or ANUSTART for you Arrested Development fans).
I would love to see Heacock back though. Or maybe piss off TTUN and get Greg Mattison.

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

I despise Bill O'Brien.

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

kareemabduljacobb's picture

Seems like Holmes knows it's a business and for some, like in Vrabel's case a chance to further his career up the coaching ranks.  Too bad MV had to leave, but I wish him the best of luck and hope one day he'll be back coaching on the sidelines in the Shoe again.

cinserious's picture

Heacock is done with coaching. DONE!  This situation does, however, present the opportunity for Urban Meyer to introduce a new DC who also happens to be a big-time (or up-and -coming) defensive line coach. 

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

BukFan's picture

I'm hoping our curse words to BOB are a joke, kinda.  Vrabel is a grown man.  He's not being forced at gunpoint to leave.  Maybe he has larger goals (read: NFL Head coach)

Barnsey69's picture

Well at least Vrabes went to the pros versus some other college job where he would be competing against us for recruits. I don't really have a reason for feeling this way, but he just seems more like a pro coach to me. Probably gets to spend more time with fam etc. without year round recruiting grind.
GL MV in the NFL!

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes- 2014 UNDISPUTED National Champions!

fanfarris's picture

Vrabel is a good man and he represented the buckeyes well, be it as a player or as a coach.I met him and think he is a good guy.Him leaving will hurt but will also open doors for others to come in and shine here.After all  coaching at TOSU is one of the best jobs in the land.We do need a DC soon to calm the recruits and i believe Meyer will get it done.Now that the rabbit is out ,Meyer should put his foot down and hand Fickell a pay cut and get a Great star as a DC and pay him handsomely.


vitaminB's picture

Now there isn't a single reason to retain Fickell on the staff.  I was giving him a pass because his besty was such a great recruiter. 

Ethos's picture

I hope vrabel continues up the ladder and ends up back in our fold but in a higher position!

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