Dennis Finley unofficially visits Michigan State
Soutch Carolina OL commit J.P. Vonashek says Ohio State and Tennessee haven't given up. But he doesn't sound interested
Michigan State offers Deon Drake
Rivals$--Scott shines on both sides at FNL '14 FL WR Artavis Scott
Artavis again praises his weekend visits and interaction with all of the coaches. He says each of the stops was equally impressive.
Rivals$--Eight offers for 2014 RB '14 NC RB Derrell Scott
Derrell holds offers from Duke, North Carolina, NC State, Ohio State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and East Carolina. He mentions numerous schools of interest and says he wants to play for a big-time program.
Rivals$--Damon Webb sees a new side of Michigan '14 MI DB Damon Webb
Damon and his parents were impressed with Michigan's academic presentation. He is also very high on LSU after his recent camp visit.
Scout$--Elite Florida OL takes visit tour '14 FL OL K.C. McDermott
K.C.'s Dad says they were very impressed with visits to Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Notre Dame. He mentions that Coach Meyer spent an hour and twenty minutes talking with K.C.
Rivals$--McDermott back from Midwest swing '14 FL OL K.C. McDermott
More of the same...loved each of the stops. K.C. will visit Florida this weekend.
Scout$--Henderson's dad: "He wants to pursue Michigan" '14 VA QB Caleb Henderson
Caleb's Dad reiterates how impressed the family was with Michigan. He states that an offer from tOSU would also be hard to turn down but right now, Michigan is the team to beat.
Scout $--Stevens wants to make trips '13 FL WR Tony Stevens
by Newberg... plans to set up visits to OSU, S Car & USF.
Scout$--Trout Visits Friday Night Lights '14 OH OL Kyle Trout
Kyle wanted to compete at FNL but did not want to risk injury before double sessions begin. He was impressed with the tempo and environment.
Scout$--Michigan Coaches Make Impression on Westphal '14 IL DB Parrker Westphal
Parrker is impressed with Michigan but now says he is wide open until he takes a few more visits.
Scout Free--Scott Leaves ND Impressed '14 FL WR Artavis Scott
COLUMBUS -- Ohio State pulled out all the usual stops when one of the nation's top high school football prospects visited campus in April.
Joey Bosa, a five-star defensive end from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., met with coach Urban Meyer and his staff. He walked through Ohio Stadium, toured the football facilities, and posed for a picture in a scarlet Buckeyes jersey.
But OSU also unveiled its secret recruiting weapon: a meeting with the president.
Gordon Gee, the charismatic bow-tied chief executive of Ohio State, met with Bosa, his younger brother, and their parents for a half hour.
"If you come here, you have to go to a frat party with me," Gee playfully told the recruit, recalled Bosa's mother, Cheryl.
"I'll do that, but only if you teach me how me to tie a bow tie," Bosa replied.
After Bosa left, Meyer thanked the president for his help.
"Once again we realize how busy your schedule is and we appreciate you taking time yesterday to meet with Joey Bosa (St. Thomas Aquinas HS) and his family," he wrote Gee in an email dated April 13. "His mother, Cheryl, a Buckeye alum, was quite impressed with the fact that you were taking a personal interest in the recruiting of players for the football team."
"I am truly honored to be part of your recruiting team," Gee replied.
In a later email, Gee added: "How can I help get this across the goal line?"
Bosa committed to Ohio State the next week.
As Meyer continues to enjoy a tide of early recruiting success -- his 2012 class was ranked among the top five nationally -- the first-year coach credits in part the help from an unlikely ally: one of the nation's most prominent academics.
Correspondence between Meyer and Gee, obtained by The Blade through a public records request, reveals the 68-year-old president's involvement -- and, perhaps, influence -- in Ohio State's football recruiting.
"It's not my job to evaluate our president, but if I was asked, he's an A-plus," Meyer said last week. "The enthusiasm, passion, love for Ohio State … it's off the charts."
The thought of a college president attempting to sway the decisions of heralded football recruits may further stir perceptions of a tail-wagging-the-dog culture in major college athletics. In the throes of the tattoos-for-memorabilia football scandal last year, Gee fueled that slant when he insisted he'd never considered firing former coach Jim Tressel. "No, are you kidding me?" Gee said during a news conference, weeks before Tressel resigned. "Let me be very clear. I'm just hoping the coach doesn't dismiss me."
At Michigan, a spokesman said president Mary Sue Coleman does not meet with football recruits or "participate in student-athlete recruitment."
But few presidents dabble in as many disciplines as Gee -- the highest-paid president of a public university with a compensation package of more than $1.5 million per year -- whose fuse-burning days that notoriously begin at 4:30 a.m. ensure no obligation comes at the expense of another. (Gee once cited being married to his job as the reason for his second divorce.)
Beyond his core duties, Gee indeed drops in on fraternity parties, walks the campus to mix with swooning students, and, yes, helps out with football recruiting.
"When I think of him, I think of all in," Meyer said.
Gee was not made available for this story. An OSU spokesman said Gee also helps recruit for other athletic programs, though it is unclear how he allocates his time.
"President Gee is the university's best recruiter and reaches out on behalf of the university to recruit exceptional academic leaders, faculty, and top students from all academic disciplines and sports," OSU spokesman Jim Lynch said. "Given the size and scope of Ohio State, President Gee's time is limited, but he remains committed to building a strong university."
Ezekiel Elliott, a four-star running back from St. Louis rated by Rivals.com as Missouri's top prospect in the 2013 class, said he visited 10 schools -- including Notre Dame, Arkansas, and Missouri. But it was only at Ohio State where his itinerary included a visit with the university president.
Elliott said Gee and his father, Stacy, spoke like old friends about their connection to the infamous "Fifth Down Game," a 1990 contest between Colorado and Missouri in which officials mistakenly allowed the Buffaloes a fifth down that produced the winning touchdown as time expired. Gee was then president of Colorado; Stacy Elliott a defensive back for Missouri.
While Elliott and other recruits took other factors into greater consideration -- coaches, facilities, tradition -- he said meeting with Gee "made me feel more comfortable at Ohio State."
"He's a fun guy," Elliott said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Bosa, who also considered attending Alabama, Florida State, and Michigan, among other major programs, felt the same way. He met with a handful of university presidents on recruiting visits, though none left an impression quite like the self-deprecating one in the bow tie and suspenders. Cheryl Bosa said her son "adored" Gee.
"Some of the presidents are very staunch and tight, so it didn't really affect things so much," Cheryl Bosa said. "[Gee's] personality definitely makes a difference."
Bosa, rated a top-25 prospect by nearly every recruiting service, left Columbus feeling confident in his decision. So did Ohio State. "Very close to getting him!" Meyer wrote in an email to Gee. "He's a difference maker."
Gee also met with several recruits at the spring game the next week, including James Quick, a highly regarded receiver from Louisville. Quick continues to consider OSU.
"I know how hectic your schedule was for all of the Spring Game activities," Meyer wrote to Gee on April 23. "But you taking time to personally meet with our key recruits will go a long way in establishing and building relationships with the recruits and their parents."
"You, your coaches, and team are on fire," Gee replied. "Thanks for letting me be part of the effort."
The Cleveland Indians marketing department made a great move with the “what if” campaign in their commercials. It’s a nostalgic look at the past with hints of the future.
Ohio State’s future could bring a trio of linebackers from the 2014 class in Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South), Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty) and Dante Booker (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary).
All have Ohio State offers and all made their way to Columbus last week for the Friday Night Lights camp.
As the last stop on his Midwest visit, 2013 wide receiver Devon Allen (Phoenix/Brophy Prep) made it to Ann Arbor for the BBQ at the Big House after stopping by Ohio State and Notre Dame. Coming from the Grand Canyon state, Allen's biggest concern with the Midwest schools was whether he would need to wear a jacket year-round.
"It definitely helped [Michigan]. The big thing for me was the weather, and I know it's summer but it was kind of hot so that was good," he said. "Some of the coaches said it didn't even snow that much this winter compared to how it usually does, so I liked that."
Other than the weather, Allen felt as though the visit gave him a good perspective on what Michigan has to offer. His father, Louis, attended Ohio State so the family has ties to the Buckeyes. Allen spent some time with current Michigan commit Jake Butt (Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington North), who also has ties to Ohio State.
"[Butt is] from Columbus, right down the street from Ohio State. He told me that when he was younger he would never go to Michigan," Allen said. "But it felt like the right place for him. The family atmosphere and the football is top tier. He said he chose it on how he felt and told me to really look at all the schools closely."
Cleveland Glenville has produced dozens of Division I prospects over the last decade, and Marcelys Jones should be another.
The 2014 two-way lineman competed at Ohio State’s Friday Night Lights, and he is hoping it will bring him closer to his first offer.
“The camp was great, a lot of competition,” Jones said.”I’m working hard trying to get this O-State offer.”
Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer and director of player personnel Mark Pantoni added what they hope will be a new Buckeye tradition with the debut of the first annual Friday Night Lights, a one-day football camp for high school football players inside Ohio Stadium.
OSU students, alumni and fans were granted free admission into Ohio Stadium Friday to watch more than 100 high school recruits run through drills with the Buckeyes coaching staff.
Meyer and Pantoni created the Friday Night Lights camp in 2005 back when both held positions at Florida, and they decided to bring it to Columbus after its successful run in Gainesville, Fla.
Some OSU fans like Andrew Warren, an OSU graduate, said they think the camp is another tool that could give Meyer an advantage when it comes to recruiting the top talent in the country.
“Most of these kids have probably never worked out in a stadium this big,” Warren said. “I think just being here in front of all these fans will make some of these guys want to commit because it’s a memorable experience.”
Clinton Bowman, stepfather of Trotwood-Madison High School running back Ashton Jackson, said that Friday Night Lights is a good idea, but recruiting ultimately leads back to Meyer’s reputation.
“This camp, this stadium and these fans are all great but it comes down to coach Meyer at the end of the day,” Bowman said. “When you look at his track record, his two national championships at Florida, and his coaching style, that’s what kids want to be a part of.”
The parents of the campers watched from the East side of the stadium, while the general public was permitted entrance to the West side of the stadium.
Donte Horton, father of Lakota West High School running back prospect Mikel Horton, said the camp was just as exciting for the parents watching as it was for the campers participating.
“It feels great to be out here in this atmosphere watching my son compete against some of the top high school talent,” Horton said.
Horton also said the camp is a good experience that will be beneficial for his son going forward.
“Now Mikel has a feeling of what is demanded from him on the college level,” Horton said. “I think this will prepare him and motivate him to be the best he can be.”
Luke Fickell, co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, Mike Vrabel, defensive line coach, and Everett Withers, co-defensive coordinator, were among the OSU coaches present helping the kids through their drills. Meyer, who began his day at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago Friday morning, led drills and talked to players between reps.
Jake Collier, an OSU graduate, said the camp overall was a success, but said there's room for one improvement next year.
“I think it would be helpful if they could pass out some printed rosters in the future so people can keep track of who is who,” Collier said. “Besides that, everything was great.”
The camp was also a chance for OSU fans to be in the stadium before September 1, when the Buckeyes open up the season against Miami (Ohio). Kickoff is scheduled for noon.
Out of New Albany, Ohio, Darron Lee impressed the coaches during June camp. Going neck-in-neck with Vonn Bell, Lee impressed so much that he gained an Ohio State offer and committed shortly after. He will quarterback his high school team this year but will likely play in the defensive backfield in Columbus. Urban Meyer loves recruiting quarterbacks and one should remember Joe Haden, one of his best defensive backs at University of Florida, was also a high school quarterback. I interviewed him by phone and have capsulized his answers.
What was FNL (Friday Night Lights) like?
DL: Really good experience, I did not participate, I was just there to watch and help recruit uncommitted players. I talked to 2014 recruits as well as 2013 commits Evan Lisle, Joey Bosa and Billy Price. I also got to hang out with the coaches, which I have not done since I committed.
Who impressed you the most at FNL?
DL: Shelton Gibson! He blew everyone out of the water. Watching him against the corners, he was next to unstoppable. No one could go against him, his acceleration was unbelievable as he gets off the ball fast and no one could cover him. He is a huge threat.
Zach Yousey was also impressive. He is underrated and should get a good look from major programs.
You were impressive at the June OSU camp. Many said you were neck-and-neck with Vonn Bell during drills with observers giving Bell a slight edge; how did you fair against Vonn and did you feel you were equal if not better than he during drills?
DL: Tough to judge, we have 2 different body types. I am bigger and stockier. Vonn is an extremely good athlete but I would not say someone is better and did better than I did. He is immensely talented but I felt that I held my own against him.
How do you think Vonn Bell would do against Shelton Gibson?
DL: Vonn is fast and would definitely hold his own against Shelton. I saw no one at FNL that compares with Vonn as far as talent.
What do you think are OSU’s chances of landing Vonn Bell?
DL: Honestly, I am not sure but he would be a great addition to our class and complete our defense. I think it will be a tough battle against the SEC schools as the entire top of the SEC are in on Vonn. We are still in the hunt and made his final list. I am in his ear, calling him, texting him, trying my best to convince him to choose Ohio State but having friends who are attending SEC schools now, it is going to be a battle.
Who else have you been working on to recruit to OSU?
DL: I have not been as active for other players as I have been towards Vonn but I talked to Raekwon McMillan and Dante Booker at FNL. I think there is a good chance they chose Ohio State. Raekwon, like Vonn, has many offers from SEC schools so we will be in a battle for him. I also talked to Thaddeus Snodgrass at FNL and encouraged him to join us at OSU.
What position will you play at OSU?
DL: Not sure but it will be on the defensive side of the ball. I am coming into to OSU as an ATH but I have been told that defense is where I will play.
What will your major be?
DL: Business and Accounting, I am really good at Math.
DL: Hanging with friends, reading books, listening to music and working out.
DL: My mom’s cooking, she is an amazing cook. She usually cooks Southern style food like greens but anything she cooks, I love.
Anything else you want to say to Buckeye nation?
DL: GO BUCKS!!!
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer loves speed on the edge and he dipped into the state where he became a legend Wednesday with an offer to Florida State commit Tony Stevens (Orlando, Fla./Evans).
Ranked No. 173 in the ESPN 300, Stevens said he is still committed to the Seminoles, but was taken aback by the offer from the Buckeyes.