2014 Class has Out-of-State Flavor

By Kyle Rowland on February 5, 2014 at 6:00p
Urban Meyer went well beyond the state borders to sign his 23-man Class of 2014.
24 Comments

Expect anything different?

Urban Meyer’s made a living – literally – securing commitments from four- and five-star prospects. He’s now signed seven classes ranked in the top-five nationally, according to Rivals.com. This year, Ohio State signed 23 players – one five-star and 15 four-stars – good for No. 3, behind Alabama and LSU.

For the second consecutive year, signing day drama played out inside the halls of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. By 10:30 a.m., all 22 of the Buckeyes’ previously committed players had faxed their letters of intent. Ohio State received its surprise three hours later when Michigan State commit Darius Slade, a defensive end, spurned the Spartans.

“I didn’t know much about him or who he was. That’s Larry Johnson,” Meyer said to an overflow crowd of media. “I guess they’ve known each other for years and years. I watched film on him and thought, ‘Do we want to take this kid?’ I’m thinking, ‘sure.’”

So if you’re wondering, yes, Johnson made an impact in less than a month in Columbus.

The Buckeyes received commitments from the top six players in the State of Ohio, according to Scout, effectively walling off the competition. From there, Meyer set out on a scorched Earth policy, leaving no stone unturned. He went from Florida to Georgia to Michigan and everywhere in between.

It resulted in Ohio State signing eight recruits in the Rivals100 with the rest of the Big Ten signing only six. Meyer’s philosophy, unspoken or not, is to build an SEC team north of the Mason-Dixon Line. The objective is to load up on agile offensive and defensive linemen, speed at the skill positions and athletic quarterbacks.

Everything was crossed off on this year’s checklist.

Scarlet is a new color for the longtime Penn State assistant. Larry Johnson's impact is already being felt.

“At Florida, Urban wanted to have the fasted team in college football,” J.C. Shurburtt, national recruiting director at 247Sports, told Eleven Warriors. “I’m sure having the fastest team in college football at Ohio State is a goal, and they’re getting there.”

In the process, the Buckeyes are distancing themselves from the rest of the conference. Michigan State signed its best class under Mark Dantonio – ranked 22nd by Rivals – and snagged five-star defensive lineman Malik McDowell, but Ohio State held on to offensive lineman Jamarco Jones – Meyer said he felt like a 12-year-old when he heard the news – and flipped Slade.

Meyer would not claim any victories, though, saying: “They're real. They're an adversary. That's a real battle right now.”

“[Ohio State’s] invested a tremendous amount of time in what I term to be the value positions in football – offensive line, defensive line, defensive secondary and, of course, quarterback,” ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill said. “That’s where they’ve invested. They’re building the team from the inside out.

“I think there’s still a gap. Is it a wide and just absolute difference between them and everybody else? I don’t know if it’s that glaring. But I do know from a recruiting pool, Ohio State has the same challenges that the rest of the teams from the Big Ten have. That is there aren’t enough players from the rest of the Midwest to fuel the entire conference without having to leave the region. That forces teams to have to go into other people’s backyards to get players, which creates recruiting challenges. Urban Meyer knows it, Brady Hoke knows it, the conference knows it. It’s just a part of the challenge of the Big Ten right now.”

In all, the Buckeyes got commitments from 14 out-of-state players, more than half of their 23 signees. Consider it a trend. It’s the second consecutive year Ohio State’s signed more non-Ohioans. To do so, Meyer went into the backyards of Alabama, Florida State, Texas and other powerhouses, and left with more than just fine china.

“I like it,” Shurburtt said. “I think first and foremost, if you ask Urban Meyer, he wants to sign every top talented kid out of Ohio. Then they want to sign the best players elsewhere from around the country. That’s smart.”

As far back as the 19 aughts, players from surrounding states were seen on the Buckeyes’ roster. But nothing ever approached the current rate, not even during the tenures of John Cooper and Jim Tressel, coaches who scoured the nation for high school All-Americans. Ohio State consisted of nearly 90 percent Ohioans when it won the 1968 national championship, while that number hovered around 60 percent throughout the Tressel era.

“I’m sure having the fastest team in college football at Ohio State is a goal, and they’re getting there.”

It’s diminishing even more under Meyer, who shares strong bonds with high school coaches in the south. It truly is a national program. On the current roster, the Buckeyes have players from 16 states and two countries – the U.S. and Australia. The Class of 2014 spans 1,628 miles, from Forth Worth, Texas, to Montclair, N.J.

Future projections look similar. The East Coast is stockpiled with high-level players for 2015 and 2016, which should thrust Johnson into the limelight. Florida, Georgia and Texas, among others, will continue to be areas of focus for Ohio State.

But don’t think Meyer’s abandoning the Buckeye State; relationships are still strong with Ohio high school coaches. There’s a standing invitation for them to attend practices, and the Buckeyes still covet the stop’s most talented players.  

“Trust me, we uncover every stone for kids in the state of Ohio. We spend unlimited time and resources on them,” Ohio State director of player personnel Mark Pantoni said. “We want to sign as many kids in Ohio as we can. That’s our ultimate goal. Ohio is first, and then we branch out to the Midwest, Southeast and Texas.”

Ohio is still a hotbed for talent, poor geography or not. This year, the state will send the fifth-most players to FBS schools. That’s more than Louisiana and behind only California, Texas, Florida and Georgia. Erick Smith, Marshon Lattimore and Kyle Berger were sought-after by programs across the country.

It’s no coincidence that seven of nine assistant coaches have deep ties to Ohio. Two of them – Tim Hinton and Kerry Coombs – were longtime high school head coaches with a wealth of experience and knowledge on the ins and outs of the state. The outsiders – Larry Johnson and Chris Ash – are Big Ten guys who bring expertise across a wide swath of land.

“They wanted to be here,” Meyer said. “They both had very, very good jobs, and they wanted to be here.”

But not for long. There are 2015 recruits to be had, and a majority come from outside the state borders.

24 Comments

Comments

skid21's picture

“I didn’t know much about him or who he was. That’s Larry Johnson,” Meyer said to an overflow crowd of media. “I guess they’ve known each other for years and years. I watched film on him and thought, ‘Do we want to take this kid?’ I’m thinking, ‘sure.’”

This is what I find so refreshing about Urban. Just cut to the chase (pun intended). Not much coach speak from Urban. I love it.

FLAMikey's picture

Where 'Bama really kicked our butt was in 5-star guys. Would be interesting to see how many 5-stars FSU had on their roster this year, as well as how many there were on the rosters of the other NC winners during recent seasons.

Furious George 27's picture

What really matters is player development from here on out.... For all the great recruiting classes Bama gets, they seem to get rid of a lot of players each year.

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

MichiganBuckeye222's picture

It looks like Bama and tOSU both got 10 in the top 100.  that's good enough for me.  There is no difference between high 4 star and 5 star....these kids are all excellent.

Representing the Buckeyes in the Mitten State since 1987.

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Seattle Linga's picture

Johnson is a huge plus for so many reasons and it's days like this that bring his effort to the forefront. Just think where we will be in 365 days after he has had a chance to be completely integrated into our system. Slade will be a much greater asset to us then his 3 stars. 

Lawver_5's picture

These next couple years should be exciting for Buckeye Nation! I love what Urban is doing, now it just needs to keep translating into wins.

German Buckeye's picture

Just keep us relevant and recruiting in the top 5 and we will continue to dominate the BIG and year in, year out, we'll challenge for national championships.  That's more than any fan could ask for.  GO BUCKS!

northwest_buckeye's picture

Like the article mentions, the East Coast has a bunch of young talent coming in the next few years... I have to believe that LJ is going to keep us relevant there. And with the B1G expanding to Rutgers and Merry-land, I really like OSU's chances on snagging at least a few big-name dudes.

However, I don't want to diminish this year's class. Looks to be a solid haul from all over. Good work, fellas.

I've never said I 'hate' anyone because that would imply I had any emotion for them whatsoever.

PittBuckeye's picture

I wouldn't doubt it if someone told me they were the fastest team in the country, so much speed the last few classes it's unreal.

Seattle Linga's picture

Just wait til Urbs kicks this team in high gear

MN Buckeye's picture

The great recruiting ride continues. 

tjbucvik23's picture

There's a kid that I think TOSU should consider. A WR from California with good height. Last name is Brodus (spelling ?) He's the son of rapper Snoop Dog, from a segment on ESPN. I'm not a fan of rap but I think this kid looks very good.  I think we should start getting taller WR as it seems to be a good trend. He will sign next February for college. 2015 class

ScarletNGrey01's picture

I’m sure having the fastest team in college football at Ohio State is a goal, and they’re getting there.

For a buckeye fan, that give you goose bumps.

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

Hovenaut's picture

(Re?) Fortifying a team that's won 24 of 26, and I don't think we've seen anything yet.

These are great days we're livin', bros...

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

Barnsey69's picture

"These are great days we're livin', bros..."
Private Pyle and myself could not agree more.

I am a modern-art masterpiece.

Hovenaut's picture

Nice...time to bust out the jelly doughnuts.

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

+1 HS
Barnsey69's picture

You got it Hov, but I'm still a little full from that shit sandwich I ate on January 3rd.

I am a modern-art masterpiece.

Eph97's picture

John Cooper would be proud of the speed on this team; not a lot of "slow white guys" to be seen!
http://newsok.com/buckeyes-cooper-defends-remark/article/2242253

Citrus's picture

"Meyer’s philosophy, unspoken or not, is to build an SEC team north of the Mason-Dixon Line"

Great write up except for this part. Made me cringe.

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

“I think there’s still a gap. Is it a wide and just absolute difference between them and everybody else? I don’t know if it’s that glaring. But I do know from a recruiting pool, Ohio State has the same challenges that the rest of the teams from the Big Ten have. That is there aren’t enough players from the rest of the Midwest to fuel the entire conference without having to leave the region. That forces teams to have to go into other people’s backyards to get players, which creates recruiting challenges. Urban Meyer knows it, Brady Hoke knows it, the conference knows it. It’s just a part of the challenge of the Big Ten right now.”

Of course he would say that.

The problem isn't talent, it's coaching.

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

Run_Fido_Run's picture

I was particularly struck (amused?) by this part of the quote:

. . . Ohio State has the same challenges that the rest of the teams from the Big Ten have. That is there aren’t enough players from the rest of the Midwest to fuel the entire conference without having to leave the region.

Okay, but Kentucky managed to climb into the top 25 of some recruiting rankings - whereas they're normally, what, not even in the top 40? - by taking almost half their players from Ohio. Out of Tennessee's crowded class, only five kids are from Big Ten country, but another nine are from outside the SEC footprint. And somebody please tell Bama that they can get all the kids they need, according to Lugingbill, from inside their own region.

RBuck's picture

Every time I see or hear the name J.C. Shurburtt I think "false start".

"It's just another case of there you are". ~ Doc (1918-2012)

+1 HS
Earle's picture

That's funny, but I think "ice cream".

Italics are for emphasis.

+2 HS
BeijingBucks's picture

'False start' was a five star...
 

 

 

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

+1 HS