When the dust had settled last month and the 2012 recruiting classes had been established, it was clear that Ohio State and M*chigan had separated themselves from the rest of the Big Ten. Based on Scout.com’s rankings, OSU and UM finished 3rd and 4th in the country, respectively, and the next closest B1G team was Michigan State at #38. The rankings can prove to be slightly inaccurate as the years progress and players improve or peak, but it has been proven that the better your recruits, the better your chances of winning it all. As Ron Burgundy said, “It’s science.”
Urban Meyer has taken some heat from other Big Ten
babies coaches about his recruiting style, but without breaking any known rules or NCAA regulations, he was able to transform Ohio State’s 2012 class from an unranked unit, into one of the top classes in the country in just a matter of weeks. Brady Hoke, similarly, was able to bring in M*chigan’s best recruiting class since the now overrated class of 2005, which at the time was ranked #2 in the nation. Both coaches bring a tremendous amount of passion and love for their sport and school not only to the sidelines, but to the recruiting game as well. It may be tough to compare their style of recruiting for the ’12 class, as Urban was on an abbreviated schedule and hit the high schools full force after his hiring, while Hoke was busy preparing his team for its first BCS game in roughly 100 years (that might not be factual).
Recruiting for next year’s 2013 class, on the other hand, is already underway, and has allowed us to see how these coaches attack the recruiting scene when given time to prepare and develop a strategy. In my opinion, both are off to a great start, but they are also extremely different in their approaches to building their team and reeling in their players. To make a comparison in styles, Urban Meyer appears to be using a fishing pole, while Hoke has thrown a net into the waters. As I’ve taken a more in depth look at each coach’s current offers, a few interesting things have jumped out at me.
Meyer has verbalized offers to approximately 73 high school juniors, landing 5 of them so far. Of his offers that are currently on the table, 4 of them have verbally committed to TSUN (Logan Tuley-Tillman, Dymonte Thomas, Wyatt Shallman, and Chris Fox). That foursome consists of 2 offensive tackles, a fullback, and a safety from Ohio. On the other side of the coin, UM had offered scholarships to 4 of OSU’s 5 commits, as well.
At this time, OSU’s 5 total commits out of this group of 73 include 4 Ohio natives, including the top in-state prospect at offensive line, cornerback, defensive line, and athlete. The only player that has given his verbal from outside of Ohio is currently rated by Rivals.com as the top player in the state of New Jersey. Despite 3 of our first 5 commits being on the defensive side of the ball, Meyer has only targeted 25 defenders so far, and the class will likely be leaning heavily toward the offense when it is said and done.
As you’ll see, both coaches’ last job is still very much a part of their current recruiting, as they are attempting to strike the same areas they once did while the waters are still hot luke warm. Meyer has insisted that he will recruit the top players within Ohio’s borders, and his current commitments would certainly back that up, but you may be surprised to learn that Ohio isn’t where his search has directed him the most. He and his staff have offered 10 players from Ohio, but have unloaded 14 offers to high schoolers in the Sunshine State (That’s Florida, not Colorado, for any Old School fans). Obviously, Meyer feels that his 2 National Championships that he brought to the great retirement state might land him some of their top talents, and who can blame him?
Beyond Ohio and Florida, Urban has cast his line in a few specific locations multiple times, namely Texas (7), Georgia (6), New Jersey (6), and North Carolina (5). From there, he has mostly thrown out individual scholarships to athletes in the midwestern states. Ohio’s offers are extremely well balanced by position, but if you do a quick check through the remaining offers, it’s clear that Meyer is significantly biased towards Florida for his skill positions. In fact, of his 14 Florida offers, 8 of them play either RB or WR.
In comparison to TSUN, Meyer has been fairly tight with his offers, but I would expect more to be extended over the summer, as the coaches get a chance to scout players at camps. No matter where they come from or when they commit, the chances are Meyer’s recruits will continue to be highly ranked, seeing as 66 of the 73 offers made so far have been to players listed in ESPN’s Project Top 150.
Brady Hoke and his staff have offered roughly 30 more players a scholarship than OSU’s coaching staff. That is 40% more offers than their rivals down south, which is a fairly staggering number when comparing schools that will essentially be bringing in the same number of players. M*chigan will most likely have a few more scholarships to offer, thanks to Tattoogate and a small senior class for OSU, but this clearly doesn’t account for the difference in the number of offers.
Hoke is off to a hot start, due in large part to his aggressive strategy thus far. He has certainly cast a wide net out early and been able to bring in a total of 14 players already. Of his 14 commits, 4 turned down OSU offers to go to Ann Arbor. The other 10, including 4 players from the state of Ohio, had not received an offer to come to Columbus in the fall of 2013. 10 of TSUN’s current commitments will be lined up on the offensive side of the ball, and they continue to exit the RichRod era and join the Hoke Era by bringing in more top offensive line recruits. Hoke’s top two states, commitment-wise, are Ohio and M*chigan, tying with 5 each. After that, he has a pair from Illinios, and individuals from Colorado and Pennsylvania.
Similar to Urban, Brady has not left his San Diego State (pronounced “Whale’s Vagina”) coaching/recruiting roots in the past. He has extended offers to 9 players in the state of California, compared to just 1 by Urban Meyer and OSU. On the other hand, whereas Meyer prefers the players in Florida, Hoke has only offered 3 players from the Jeb Bush state, but has a thing for the players in Texas. I’m assuming this has more to do with him being able to swing by the Big Texan Steak Ranch and try the 72 ounce steak challenge, than the actual players, but I digress. Regardless of the motive behind it, Hoke has handed out 12 offers to Texans. Outside of Ohio (15 offers), Texas (12), and California (9), Hoke has continued tossing out scholarship offers like Mardi Gras candy. He has at least 6 offers out to players in M*chigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Virginia.
Sure, this is a lot of information to digest and take in, when all you really want to know is who OSU gets compared to who M*chigan gets, but I can’t get enough of this recruiting stuff! To wrap it all up, Hoke has extended more scholarship offers, to date, than Michigan State and Wisconsin combined. It’s tough to argue his strategy, though, seeing as he’s landed 14 players, including 11 potential Top 150 prospects (MSU and Wisconsin have 1 Top 150 player right now, combined). Meyer, on the other hand, has been a bit more selective in his recruiting approach for 2013, but is still shooting 100% in bringing in Top 150 players. If the 2012 and 2013 classes are any indication, this rivalry is only going to get better.
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