A Little Look Back and a Big Look Ahead

Aesculus.'s picture
January 27, 2013 at 6:39p

It's not very often that a recruiting service reviews and reranks recruits, however eSPIN has gotten some good perspective on themselves with this article.  They also go over the top 2009 players and conclude that more times than not, top players fail in their rankings because of off the field issues rather than their lack of talent.  You can make up your own mind on that.

Looking at ourselves, you could almost turn our 2009 class upside down.  Of our 7 top ESPN 150 recruits 5 of them turned out to be busts for one reason or another. 

Jaamal Berry
Video | Scouts Report
#3 RB Miami, FL
Miami Palmetto High School 5'11'' 185  84

Dorian Bell
Video | Scouts Report

#4 OLB Monroeville, PA
Gateway Senior High School 6'0'' 220  83

C.J. Barnett
Video | Scouts Report
#10 CB Clayton, OH
Northmont Senior High School 6'1'' 175  82

Jamie Wood
Video | Scouts Report

#12 S Pickerington, OH
Pickerington Central High School 6'2'' 185  81

Melvin Fellows
Video | Scouts Report
#10 DE Garfield Heights, OH
Garfield Heights High School 6'4'' 245  81

Jack Mewhort
Video | Scouts Report

#2 OC Toledo, OH
Saint John's High School 6'6'' 285  81

Duron Carter
Video | Scouts Report

#18 WR Fort Lauderdale, FL
Saint Thomas Aquinas School 6'3'' 183  81

You could easily argue that the lower 7 of Simon, Hyde, Brown,(all B1G selections) coupled with starters Lindsley, Marcus Hall, Jordan Hall, plus Zack Boren, Reid Fragel, and back up Kenny G outweighed the 7 eSPIN 150 stars.  Not so much of an argument there.  But lets look at how past the past classes stack up.

The 2010 class had 4 eSPIN 150's, the 2011 had 7, the 2012 had 5 but the 2013 class has 10....and counting.  Tressel averaged 5 top 150 players from 2010-2012, Meyer has already doubled that in his first full year of recruiting.  (And oh by the way,  Meyer brought in 4 of the 5 150 stars from the 2012 class)  In fact OSU has never brought in this much talent going back to 2006. 

This is in stark contrast to Alabama.  Between the same years of 2010-2012 they averaged 11 top 150 players.  That's more than double Ohio States 5.  They had 13 top 150 alone for 2012.  Forget Saban as the Emperor, forget that he kicks kids off the team, forget the oversigning, forget it.  They have more talent.  We can complain about the nuances of weather and the way they run their program, but the elephant in the room is TALENT.

It's scary to think what Kerry Coombs eluded to, in his now infamous recruitment speech.  We are winning with somewhat inferior personnel.  Urban knows it, the staff knows it(Fickell and the D this year), and we know it. But if we want to compete with Alabama for a national championship, we need 10-12 top 150 guys a year.  That's why Urban works so hard to get the best guys.  Go Bucks


Top 10 Classes From 2009
Rank Before After Explanation
This class, which included CB Dre Kirkpatrick, RB Trent Richardson, OT D.J. Fluker, LB Nico Johnson and QB AJ McCarron, to name a few, was a part of three national championships. What else needs to be said?
The Tigers got bumped from the top spot, but that's as much for what Alabama's class did as opposed to what LSU's class didn't do. This is still a pretty good class which won an SEC title and played for a national championship. Several key defensive contributors came in this class, including DEs Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo, linebacker Kevin Minter and cornerback Morris Claiborne.
Notre Dame
Several key contributors to the Fighting Irish's 12-1 2012 season came in this class, including LB Manti Te'o, who was a Heisman finalist and won several national player of the year awards as well as the Butkus Award. This class, which was ranked 14th when we did the class rankings in 2009, also featured Mackey Award-winning TE Tyler Eifert, who is leaving as Notre Dame's all-time leading receiver at the position.
The 2008 class, which featured QB Andrew Luck, was an important one for this program, but the Cardinal's 2009 class has proven to be a key one as well in their recent success. This class, which did not finish in our 2009 Top 25, went to four straight bowl games, including three straight BCS bowls, and helped Stanford win its first Rose Bowl since Jan. 1, 1972. Tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo were signed in this class, as was workhorse RB Stepfan Taylor, who became Stanford's all-time career rusher.
The Bulldogs' 2009 class featured QB Aaron Murray, who holds the school's all-time career TD pass record and, with over 3,000 yards this season, became the first SEC QB in history to have three consecutive 3,000-yard passing seasons.
South Carolina
It would be another class before the Gamecocks signed Marcus Lattimore and another two before they landed Jadeveon Clowney, but this 2009 class brought some excellent in-state talent to Columbia and might have been a key to landing players like Lattimore and Clowney. Included in this class were defensive standouts Stephon Gilmore and D.J. Swearinger as well as WR Alshon Jeffery.
The Gators returned to a BCS bowl this season and had key contributors on both sides of the ball that came from this class. Mike Gillislee, who was Florida's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2004, was signed in this class as was Jordan Reed, who led the team in receptions. The class also included three starters along the offensive line. Defensively, linebackers Jelani Jenkins and Jonathan Bostic and defensive back Josh Evans, who led the team in tackles, were a part of this class.
Injuries have played a role with a few of the players who came on board in this class, but overall the Seminoles signed some very productive players in 2009. A few of the key pickups include DE Brandon Jenkins, who finished with over 20 sacks and was an All-ACC selection as a sophomore and junior, Xavier Rhodes, who has been a multi-year starter and was All-ACC first team this season, and Dustin Hopkins, who became one of the top kickers in college football and the all-time scoring leader at Florida State and in the ACC.
Ohio State
Ohio State
Jaamal Berry and Dorian Bell are no longer with the program, but DL John Simon, who had nine sacks this past season and was a key cog in the Ohio State defense, is one of the players signed in this class. The Buckeyes also brought in RB Carlos Hyde, who had 16 rushing TDs in 2012, and Corey Brown, who led the team in receptions, in the 2009 class.
There were a few players in this class who ended up leaving the program, but Michigan had some good pickups as well, including three big ones from out-of-state. Versatile defender Craig Roh made 51 consecutive starts for the Wolverines, OT Taylor Lewan was the Big Ten Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year and a first-team All-American this season, and QB Denard Robinson was one of the most electrifying players in college football.

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BuckeyeBoyer85's picture

Excellent read. Thanks for putting it together.

Wayne Woodrow Hayes

WildBear Buckeye's picture

Forget Saban as the Emperor, forget that he kicks kids off the team, forget the oversigning, forget it.  They have more talent.

To me, this is the bottom line. It's both the cause and the result of Alabama's dominance in particular, and the SEC dominance in general. You can always point to highly ranked busts and unheralded studs and argue that rankings don't mean much, but they do on aggregate.
I'm betting the best players want to see the program they join making the same commitment to winning that they (the players) do. That's pretty much a commitment to winning at all costs, certainly at all costs within the rules. At least half of the SEC has made that kind of commitment. If head coaches don't work out, they're dumped. Same with assistants. And when there's an opening, they always go after the best talent money can buy.
Tressel owned the Big Ten, and that's great. And 2002 was a magical year capped by an unlikely MNC title. But it couldn't have been hard for the Sabans, Meyers (FL edition), Carrolls, etc, to make the case to recruits that Tressel didn't have the same commitment to winning as them. I don't see this being a problem with Meyer (OSU edition).

cinserious's picture

Thanks for this thread, kind of clarifies alot of things recruiting. The Buckeyes' '09 recruits aren't finished yet. This is the 2010 recruits' senior year but the 5th yr holdovers like Hyde, hall, Philly brown, c.j. Barnett, mewhort,linsley, hall all will step up and be the Simons and borens of this year and makes sure we go undefeated again. 2013 is my pick for the yr to win it all but soon enough, urban will have so much talent amassed every yr that a NC game will be almost a given.

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

d5k's picture

If you look at Tressel's best classes, he often got a few 4-5 star studs from Florida/Pennsylvania but then his depth was mostly the best kids from Ohio which might end up being a bunch of ESPN 300+ rather than 150 type guys.  Guys who are more of a long shot to make the NFL but coming to OSU helps their chances to develop.  The difference with Urban is he will still take the best kids from Ohio, but he is also going to aggressively go for the best available guys (i.e. any top 150 guy willing to make a visit to Columbus).  This may actually help the other teams in the Big ten which often depended on the Ohio recruits that Tressel did not have room for.  So OSU going after more 4 stars nationally and leaving less room for Ohio 3-stars allows MSU, Wisconsin etc to grab those Ohio 3 stars.  In this sense perhaps Tressel beating down the rest of the Big Ten for a decade explains some of the lack of depth in the conference.  Urban is more focused on competing nationally though.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

In this sense perhaps Tressel beating down the rest of the Big Ten for a decade explains some of the lack of depth in the conference.  Urban is more focused on competing nationally though.

That's an interesting question/theory, which bears watching over the next five years or so. I suspect, however, that Urbz's approach potentially would help Ohio State more than the Big Ten overall because it would mean that only about 5-10 additional good players that JT would have taken get redistributed among the other 13 BT teams (although probably especially to Michigan, MSU, Nebraska, etc. more so than Minn or NW). Moreover, non-BT schools like ND and Tenn might also snag a few of these premium leftovers. 
For the Big Ten to really flourish, they'll need a few other schools to recruit at the highest levels nationally (before RR arrived, Michigan continued to do that very successfully for years even as it gradually turned into a prima donna program under LLLLLoyd, who was still a much better coach/recruiter than RR). Plus, the caliber of teaching will have to improve, which will allow the mid-level programs to get more out of their 2 and 3 star players, a la quality guys like Fitzgerald and O'Brien. At one time, the conference had really solid teachers at mid-level programs like Glen Mason, Alvarez, Tiller, and Ferentz in his prime (when he still cared?).    

mclovin's picture

For the Big Ten to really flourish, they'll need a few other schools to recruit at the highest levels nationally...Plus, the caliber of teaching will have to improve
I like the thinking that a little bit of talent and hard work will solve this problem, but I think we have to get real about the bigger things at work here. 
There are more people in the south.  Population growth numbers show that this is a trend that is holding very strong.  Couple with that the fact that 86% of of college students attend schools that are within 500 miles of their home and we are up against a problem that cuts a little deeper than a coach's ability to articulate the finer points of a hitch and go route.  
Ohio State hasn't suffered any ill effects to these trends because Ohio has three big cities with a deep talent pool and also because there is the proximity of Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and Chicago.  But Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland and the suburbs that feed off of these larger cities have been what has kept us thriving for all these years.  The ability to recruit nationally has most certainly enhanced the level of play, but it is built on the success that Ohio State attained due to its already deep talent pool. 
Most of the Big Ten schools do not have this luxury.  The talent pools are very limited and  less than ideal geographical locations make it hard to entice non-local players outside of that 500 mile radius to attend.  You can bring in great coaches who can coach up a less talented team to play to a higher level, but more often than not success is determined by the luck of the talent pool being better than usual for a couple years, some players that really fit a coach's scheme, other schools having down years, etc.  So to sum it up, the Big Ten is on its way down because industry is moving southward and westward, people are moving with them, and there is nothing in Big Ten Country that is significantly appetizing enough to draw enough talented players from outside Big Ten Country to make any difference.
I certainly echo Fido's curiosity in how these next couple years turn out.  There has never been such a heavy reliance on players outside of OSU's sweet spot.  You've got to think that it could only help Ohio State, but at the same time you have to wonder about tweaking a formula that has worked for so many years.  I also agree with him that it won't have a huge impact on the Big Ten in general unless a high concentration of players that Ohio State passes on ends up at one school.  And even then, teams like Michigan and in a couple years, Penn St. are really the only ones that stand to benefit -- and they already recruit at a high level.   

Run_Fido_Run's picture

There are more people in the south.  Population growth numbers show that this is a trend that is holding very strong.

You're absolutely right about the trend, but the states within the Big Ten "footprint" began with much larger populations than compared to SEC states:

mclovin's picture

+1 on the map.  kBut here are the figures I saw.  US Census as of 2010 has 114,555,744 in the south and 66,927,001 in the midwest and 55,317,240 in the northeast.  Even if you liberally define the Big Ten's footprint as extending into the Northeast with the addition of Rutgers and include some of that northeast population, it is still not as large as the south.  And what those trends in population movement typically show is that young people with kids are moving; old people staying. 

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Okay, I did forget about Tex AM, which technically would mean that we're now including Texas as part of the SEC footprint. However, I don't really see Dallas, San Antonio, etc. as now being within the SEC orbit and neither is south FLA. In contrast, all of the major metro areas within the Big Ten footprint (Chicago, Detroit, etc.) are very much Big Ten cities and if we get to include NY/NJ/Balt/DC, the metro markets of the Big Ten are still bigger than the SEC's markets.

Deshaun's picture

Fido, that map is an excellent depiction of population dispersal around our country. Sure reinforces what Larry Scott was looking at in the Pac 12's latest expansion. Do you have the link to that map?

Run_Fido_Run's picture

I should have included the link above, thanks. Here it is.


The only problem I see is Coach Meyer making OSU so strong that the talent gap between us and the rest of the B1G is so large that the B1G hurts us far more than any other factor. Yeah Bama and some SEC schools have talent but they make themselves better by playing each other. I have no doubt Coach Meyer's OSU teams are going to throttle everyone. Hence why it's critically important that our AD beef up our non-conference schedule, even more so than what's already been done.
P.S. and for the record, OSU proved it can beat a good SEC team in a big game. Arkansas was no pushover in that Sugar Bowl (NCAA can bite me if think I'm going to ever disregard that victory). If my memory serves correct, OSU controlled that game and beat a Razorback team which beat LSU, South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Texas A&M (when they were still Big XII) and lost to Alabama by only four points. OSU can get to that level. They're the only ones in the B1G that can.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

Dougger's picture

OSU can get to that level.

*Can get back* ;)
Edit: Awesome thread, very interesting, agree that it is talent that is making the difference right meow

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