The Five Best Recruits of the Urban Meyer Era

By Jeff Beck on February 10, 2014 at 1:00p
Bosa'd
53 Comments

There’s no denying Urban Meyer and co. have done a bangarang job of recruiting over the last three offseasons. Each and every haul has landed the Buckeyes in the top five across multiple recruiting services. But, as we all know it’s one thing to reel in top talent, it’s quite another for that talent to produce on the field. Luckily, quite a few of Meyer’s recruits have done exactly that; some in as little as one season. So, let’s give those standouts their due. Here are the top five recruits of the Urban Meyer era based on their production on Saturdays.

No. 5 -Taylor Decker

Decker was recruited by Meyer almost immediately after he took the job in Columbus. The four star offensive tackle hails from Vandalia, OH and was tabbed as a top 25 tackle in the country. Decker was recruited heavily by the likes of Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Notre Dame but ultimately chose to stay at home.

Buckeye Nation is happy he did, as he made a huge impact in only his second season in the Scarlet and Gray. After a heated battle with Chase Farris in the spring, Decker was able to grab the only open offensive line slot on the team. Some feared Decker would be a liability on a line chock full of seniors but he more than held his own.

The sophomore helped propel two rushers over 1,000 yards and created holes that allowed the Buckeyes to average 242 yards a game (good enough for 10th in the nation).

With every single one of his line-mates graduating next season, Decker will be looked to for leadership and intensity in 2014, ultimately helping a new crop of O-linemen get up to speed. Luckily he’s got the smarts to do it as he was named to the Academic All-Big Ten list.

No. 4 Dontre Wilson

If you follow Buckeye football at all you heard the name Dontre Wilson long before he suited up to play on Saturday. The hype surrounding the DeSoto, TX native was palpable last spring and it wasn’t without good reason. Wilson is an absolute burner and he was the player expected to fill the Percy Harvin Ted Ginn role in Urban Meyer’s offense.

Wilson was a famed Meyer flip. Originally committed to Oregon, Dontre was all Duck until Chip Kelly took his talents to the NFL. Kelly’s departure re-opened Wilson’s recruiting process and Meyer didn’t waste any time. Battling against Texas for Wilson’s services, the Buckeyes came out on top, landing Dontre on national signing day.

It was probably impossible for Wilson to live up to all of the hype he was receiving before the season began. But, he did an admirable job with a lower touch count than many believed he would see in 2013.

In total, Dontre got his hands on 22 passes for 210 yards and 2 TDs while tallying 31 rushes for 250 yards and 1 TD. He also chipped in on special teams to the tune of 21 kick returns for 523 yards. Throughout the season Meyer commented on how Wilson will have to get stronger and block better if he wants a bigger role on the team. You’ve got to believe Mickey Marotti heard that loud and clear.

No. 3 Ezekiel Elliott

Elliott’s inclusion on this list might shock some as EZ-E didn’t get much playing time in 2013, but when he did he made it count. In my opinion he’s got all the look of Carlos Hyde’s successor and I’m excited to see how he progresses in 2014.

Elliott was a four star recruit out of St. Louis who was the No. 1 RB recruit in the state and the 12th best player in the nation coming out of high school.

EZ-E Doing His Thang
Opponents will see a lot more of EZ-E in 2014.

With just 30 touches last season he rushed for 262 yards and 2 TDs. Most of his damage came against Florida A&M in mop-up duty where he took 14 carries for 162 yards and his two career scores. While the competition wasn’t exactly top-notch, EZ looked like one of the best players on the field that day. Period.

I don’t care who you’re running against, when you average 8.7 yards a carry you’re doing a lot right. Here’s hoping Elliott can continue to do exactly that in 2014.

No. 2 Noah Spence

Spence was a major Penn State lean coming out of high school, but committed to the Buckeyes and Meyer when it came down to it. Noah was a huge haul out of Harrisburg, PA coming in as the No. 1 defensive end in the country.

Spence saw the field in eleven games his freshman season and played admirably with 11 tackles and a sack.

In 2013 big things were expected out of Noah and he delivered leading the team in sacks with eight, coming in at second on the squad in tackles for loss with 14.5 and ranked seventh on the team in tackles with 52. Noah is an absolute beast of a human and if not for an outstanding freshman campaign by the first person on this list, he would have taken the number one spot.

As of right now, Spence is slated to sit out the first two games due to suspension. If that holds the Buckeyes will be without one of their best players on defense to start the season. He’s that important to the 2014 squad.

No. 1 Joey Bosa

To say Bosa came out of nowhere isn’t fair to Bosa. He graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas H.S. as a four star who ranked fourth in the nation at defensive end. He had offers from 14 schools including Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, and Wisconsin. But, no one could have predicted the freshman year Bosa put together. Not even him. Here’s a quote from the first year player before the Orange Bowl:

"It's crazy. I honestly never thought I'd be starting my freshman year.... It's been an awesome ride."

After an injury to Adolphus Washington, Bosa got his first start against Cal. Against the Golden Bears he notched two tackles for loss and never looked back. The kid was a force to be reckoned with and finished the season with 39 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss and one fumble recovery. Who’s to say what those numbers would have looked like had he seen the field sooner.

Bosa’s a hard-nosed guy who’s grit was on display during the Orange Bowl. The freshman was clearly hurt but continued to go back out and give it his all. He’s an amazing player who is only going to get better. Be afraid B1G. Be very afraid.


These players are Urban’s best hauls to date, but with another top five class in the can it’s safe to assume this list will grow as we move into next season. Consider yourself on watch for the next Meyer recruit to produce on Saturdays.

53 Comments

Comments

gm3jones's picture

I love Bosa-- kid can flat out play. I love players who never ever give up. That warrior mentality is something not many people have IMO. Should be a future NFL  and OSU HOF in my book

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

+5 HS
BuckeyeLaw's picture

Those are some great players. I love hearing positive things about Bosa though, what an impressive kid. I sat with his mom, uncle, and his mom's friend at the Norhtwestern game this year. No wonder that kid has the brains and manners to compliment his on the field skills - his family was the best. 

OSU 2011 - Toledo Law 2014

+3 HS
joebuckeye's picture

At this point in time, Decker should be #3, and knocking on #2's door.

+7 HS
Furious George 27's picture

What are the odds that Washington moves to the inside with Bosa having a break out year?

 

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

+1 HS
buckeyeblur5's picture

For all intents and purposes he already has.  Later in the year he was lining up inside most of the time and would only rotate outside on certain occasions.

+2 HS
mtrotb's picture

Well he did move inside.  The starters the last few games were Bosa, Spence, Bennett, and Washington.

mtrotb

+1 HS
Furious George 27's picture

True, but I meant in terms of solely moving out of the DE position. Did he move inside because his injury limited his ability or will he still be fighting for the starting DE spot in spring and fall? Either way he is big enough and athletic enough to do either.

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

cinserious's picture

I can see Washington as a John Simon or Cam Heyward type. Big and strong enough to play tackle and athletic enough to play strongside end. Similar to Bennett if you will. Its clear that Spence and Bosa will bookend the line and Washington and Bennett will get the majority of minutes on the inside. However, there will be a rotation to keep people fresh, develop the incredible depth, and for situational purposes: Schutt, Carter, Miller, etc.

Life's daily struggle is choosing between saying F--ck-it, or soldiering on with your responsibilities.  

+4 HS
buckeye4life050233's picture

There will definitely be a rotation.  Coach Johnson will have anywhere from 12-15 guys that can rotate on the dline.  The one thing I hope our guys learn is how to bat passes down when teams try to quick pass us to death. 

+1 HS
seafus26's picture

I like Washington and Bosa both playing inside. Those are some explosive and quick guys to have inside. And would allow  us to get another of our deep DE's on the field

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

+1 HS
OSUpawn's picture

It will be tough to name the top 5 after this coming season.  Next man up!!

I believe the SEC players put their pants on one leg at a time like we do.

+1 HS
JakeBuckeye's picture

Isn't it a little soon to do a list like this? Haha...

+5 HS
pcuzz1's picture

Our d line is going to be scary good next season and I can not wait!!

pat cozzens

+1 HS
Furious George 27's picture

I felt like Vrable did a great job last year, and LJS is just going to take it to the next level with his experience next year. Hopefully that DL is so nasty that it makes the LBs job so much easier.

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

+2 HS
2002osubuck's picture

Vrabel's only drawback for me was he didn't rotate guys as much. LJ will use a deep rotation with all the talent we have stocked and guys will be fresh all game. I really look forward to seeing guys like Marcus, Lewis, Hill and Carter contributing next year.

+5 HS
Furious George 27's picture

Yeah, but I am trying to remember if that was because of injuries to guys like Schutt and Washington.... I want to say Carter and Hale got in a bit. But the line should be the most disruptive line in the B1G.

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

+1 HS
m5987usus's picture

Can you imagine a front four of spence Bennett Washington and bosa, yikes!!

O-H!

+4 HS
Nutbuck1959's picture

Wasn't that already the lineup?

+2 HS
m5987usus's picture

yea but i think washington will play only DT now and move from his DE spot opposed to playing both i think he will play only DT

O-H!

AJW_16's picture

Definitely can't argue with your list. I think that EZE grabs the starting tailback spot and has a good year (possibly even great).

It was really nice to see Decker grow into his role last year. I agree with you Jeff, he will definitely need to be a leader for some of the young guys playing O-Line next season, but if last year is any indication I think we're in good hands.

"Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you." 

+3 HS
Killer nuts's picture

Elliott was a four star recruit out of St. Louis who was the No. 1 RB recruit in the state and the 12th best player in the nation coming out of high school.

A quick correction, Elliott was the 12th best running back in the nation coming out of high school, not the 12th best player. Also, I'd probably slide EZE to fifth on this list and bump Decker and Dontre up. Seems like EZE got his rank largely on future projections as El Guapo's successor whereas to this point Decker and Dontre have been more productive on the field.

Here are the top five recruits of the Urban Meyer era based on their production on Saturdays.

You state this ranking is based on production to this point and I don't think EZE's stacks up to the other guys on the list just yet but I'm confident it will in the future

+7 HS
Furious George 27's picture

 

IMO he desearves the ranking for this hit.

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

+15 HS
Killer nuts's picture

But what about this hit?

 

+5 HS
teddyballgame's picture

To be fair, he could have produced a lot more had he not been in El Guapo's shadow.

zjhousley's picture

Bosa is a man amongst boys!!!

+3 HS
osu07asu10's picture

Wilson is an absolute burner and he was the player expected to fill the Percy Harvin Ted Ginn role in Urban Meyer’s offense.

Nice.

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

otrain2416's picture

My rating based on production that Meyer got to commit after he was hired would be

  1. Bosa
  2. Spence
  3. Decker
  4. Johnston
  5. Wilson
  6. Zeke
  7. Marcus
  8. Bell
+1 HS
Chise47's picture

Wow, Adolphus Washington doesn't make the list ?

BTwrestle04's picture

Percy Harvin and Ted Ginn are not interchangeable. They played vastly different roles in each offense.

+4 HS
vitaminB's picture

You don't think that if Urbz had Teddy Ball Game he wouldn't have used him in some of the same ways, ie bubble screens and jet sweeps?

+5 HS
ToledoMan's picture

VB- I was thinking the same thing.  Urban would have unleashed Ted.

+5 HS
Furious George 27's picture

Just imagine the duo of Samuel and Wilson.... I cannot think if Ginn or Harvin had another teamate with sub 4.4 speed to compliment each other. And we are just talking about the H-Back position.

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

+3 HS
BTwrestle04's picture

Harvin had Jeff Demps for a year if I remember correctly. Don't forget Jalin Marshall in there as well.

+2 HS
Squirrel Master's picture

actually H-back isn't really the correct position name. A real H-back is a converted TE or fullback. The position you are referring to is called the slot-back. much like a slot receiver only more of a back than a receiver.

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

+3 HS
Daddypete's picture

Don't forget about Jalin Marshall...he is a flat out Stud....very fast...can make guys miss in space...there is a place for him in this offense for sure!

"Stand and Deliver!"

Golden Buckeye's picture

Great article. Not trying to be hypercritical, but Dontre committed a couple days before National Signing Day. I think he committed on February 3, 2013 and National Signing Day was on February 6, 2013.

+1 HS
JKH1232's picture

And to think, there were a whole lotta people out there who wanted Decker's scholly pulled after the Buffalo game...

+7 HS
buckeye4life050233's picture

He did get his butt kicked in that game albeit by a top OLB in Kalil Mack.  Mack handled Mewhort pretty handily to in that game.

+1 HS
scrotieMcboogerballs's picture

unfortunately, I think if this list was compiled at the end of next season, Mike Mitchell would've made an appearance....

Bosa was a man among boys this year...looking forward to 3 (probably 2) more years of that guy
 

"Who do you think you are?!?!...I am!!"  -Pete Weber, bowling legend and dominator of the English language

+1 HS
MikeEagleBuckeye's picture

Honestly my favorite Wilson highlight was the brawl with TTUN.  Nice to see a kid from Texas getting into the rivalry like that!

wilkins0802's picture

I agree with Bosa being #1. The kid is amazing, and his performance in the Orange Bowl really showed his heart and dedication to the team, and the university. We had a RS-Junior sitting b/c he was "hurt" but a freshman was hurt in the game, and kept coming back for more...not to say Roby really wasn't hurt..but if a freshman can show that kind of heart; a player like Roby couldn't muster it for his LAST game in the Scarlet and Gray? Just my opinion.

+1 HS
mphillips87's picture

Could claim his best recruiting job was getting Braxton to come back for his senior season.

 

If we're not counting that, then Bosa is definitely the pick.

+2 HS
seafus26's picture

I think not wanting to play in Canada brought Braxton back.

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

+1 HS
OSUFlash's picture

Decker struggled early but he really came on as the season progressed. Bosa will continue to be an absolute beast and Elliot will amaze us as a sophomore.

osuflash

+2 HS
Squirrel Master's picture

1. Spence - so far he has played in almost every game since being on campus, started his whole sophomore season. Most productive if you ask me.

2. Decker - could have started from day one if it wasn't for the meteoric rise of a TE switching to RT.

3. Bosa - stepped in only 3 games in and hasn't looked back. would be higher but so far hasn't produced as much as the other two.

4. Cam Johnston - has anyone else won player of the week for their position yet? didn't think so

5. Dontre Wilson - he has only started to show what he is capable of. Not only has he produced (basically 9 yard per play he touched the ball), but he will produce so much more in the future.

honorable mention - EZE (for reasons above), Vonn Bell (just because of that one INT if not for potential), Raekwon (I almost put him in top 5 because of what he can do by locking down the MIKE!), Tyvis Powell (if Marotti has his way, future Kam Chancellor clone)

equally disappointing so far - Cam Williams (all the talent, horrible instincts), Armani Reeves (got served more than anyone should), Marcus Baugh (dude, stop trying to drink in public).

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

+10 HS
KBonay's picture

Great call

4. Cam Johnston

tcm1968's picture

Never been a fan of stars/potential so based on what I have seen on the field in games where it mattered top 4 below. Elliot has all the potential in the world but took very few meaningful snaps this season. Next year I'd expect him to be top 5 easy.

1. Bosa

2. Decker

3. Spence

4. Johnston

5. Everyone else

+1 HS
Crumb's picture

Great list, Bosa and Decker have proved it the most on the field. They're elite in the trenches and pave the way for everyone else.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

MN Buckeye's picture

I liked Bosa from the beginning. He had a no-nonsense approach while playing in high school, there was almost no drama to his recruitment, he was the first to fax in his LOI on national signing day, and he just worked hard and produced once he arrived on campus.

+1 HS
SOF_Buckeye's picture

MN- totally agree on Bosa; and to add to it...he wasn't an early enrollee, which makes what he accomplished even more impressive.

"The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender." Woody Hayes

+1 HS
Flashraf's picture

Agreed - great list!  Definitely can't wait till next year.  

+1 HS
fear_the_nut70's picture

As a caveat, I have not read the other comments before posting this.  Nice read--I think one day we will consider it absurd that Vonn Bell wasn't included in the top five.  At this point, just a gut feeling.

buckboyy's picture

Hard to say who's better - Spence or Bosa - but what a problem to have.  I hope we see more of a workhorse in Wilson. 

that's incredible but true!