Football Recruiting: Ed Warinner's Role at Ohio State is Underappreciated

By Jeremy Birmingham on October 7, 2014 at 2:30 pm
Ed Warinner continues to get results on and off the field

From 2005 through 2012, the Ohio State Buckeyes had five offensive lineman drafted in the NFL draft. Five. Nick Mangold and Rob Sims in 2006, Doug Datish in 2007, Kirk Barton in 2008 and Mike Adams in 2012. 

From 2008 through 2011, Ohio State averaged 29.98 points a game with a host of future NFL talents at running back, wide receiver, quarterback and a bevy of highly-ranked offensive lineman. The Ohio State running game averaged a respectable 4.7 yards per carry in Jim Bollman's last four years running the Buckeye offense.

For a myriad of reasons including suspensions, challenges with new players at key positions and overall malaise in Columbus, the Buckeyes' offensive line surrendered 46 sacks in 2011, the worst effort by a Big Ten team since 2008. The offensive line in 2011 featured three senior starters: Mike Adams (who missed the first five games of the year), JB Shugarts and Mike Brewster. Those three players were regarded as three of the top lineman in the entire country in 2008 as high school seniors, with Adams and Brewster as five-star prospects. Shugarts was ranked the 44th-best player in the nation: only one was drafted.

From 2012 through today, Ohio State's offense has exploded: the Buckeyes have racked up almost 42.5 points per game and 5.64 yards per carry. In 2012, the Buckeyes — with three new starters along the line — gave up 31 sacks on the season. In 2013, they allowed 25. 

In 2013 and 2014, Ohio State has had three offensive lineman drafted, including one players who was recruited as a tight-end (Reid Fragel) and played right tackle for less than a year before realizing his NFL dreams. Of those three, two of them, Indianapolis Colt Jack Mewhort and Green Bay Packer Corey Linsley, are starters in the NFL as rookies. Mewhort and Linsley 20-percent responsible for protecting 132.1 million dollars of NFL quarterback.

Ed Warinner's impact can't be ignored. Ed Warinner develops NFL offensive lineman. Ed Warinner wins.

The Ohio State roster inherited by Warinner, who joined Urban Meyer at Ohio State after two seasons as the offensive line coach at Notre Dame, was to put it nicely – thin – despite 19 lineman listed on the official roster when he arrived.

Warinner, with limited time to recruit, flipped two of Ohio's best lineman (Kyle Dodson, Taylor Decker) from Notre Dame and Wisconsin respectively, and helped land Colorado's Joey O'Connor. The Buckeyes signed five offensive lineman in 2012, including the three Warinner landed. Decker, now a two-year starter, lines up with classmates Pat Elflein and Jacoby Boren, anchoring an Ohio State offensive line that has churned out almost 45 points a game this season and five yards per carry. Dodson, listed as the backup at left tackle, is improving steadily and could make a push for a starting position next fall if Decker opts for an early NFL entrance.

In 2013, with four All-Big Ten caliber offensive lineman returning and a host of talented prospects behind them, recruiting along the offensive line suffered inexplicably. Ohio State signed only two lineman, Ohio's Evan Lisle and Indiana's Timothy Gardner. Lisle has yet to make an impact for the Buckeyes, and Gardner was off the team before his freshman year even began. Billy Price, recruited as a defensive lineman, was moved quickly to the offensive line as a freshman and after a redshirt year, is now starting at right guard for the Buckeyes.

In 2014, as transfers from 2011 and 2012 inevitably happened, a crisis of depth along Warinner's group created a need for a homerun offensive line class: Warinner delivered. Jamarco Jones, Demetrius Knox, Marcelys Jones, Kyle Trout and Brady Taylor said "yes" to the Buckeyes and Warinner last February, preparing to be the future anchors in Columbus. Jamarco Jones and Marcelys Jones have already seen the field, and the future is bright for Knox, Trout and Taylor. There's no doubt that Warinner can recruit.

Ed Warinner's starting offensive line consists of a redshirt freshman, a redshirt sophomore, two juniors and a redshirt senior. Four players he recruited to Ohio State. If Decker decides to leave school early for a shot at the NFL, he'll become the fourth offensive lineman in three years drafted under Warinner's tutelage, equaling the total from 2005 through 2011. As the talent in the younger classes learns and develops, there's little doubt they too will get the call from NFL executives, if they're able to handle his tough-as-nails, old-school approach.

If a player, say Tommy Kraemer for example, decides to attend another school, it doesn't mean Warinner, or Ohio State, failed. It means Ohio State wasn't the right place for that player; no matter where he was born and raised. The odds of Ohio State landing a player like Kraemer, from a Notre Dame feeder school in pro-Irish Cincinnati, was low from the start, even if the Scarlet and Gray spectacled among us can't understand why. It's not, despite popular contention, an indictment on Warinner's "inability" to recruit. Ed Warinner can recruit Ohio State football players, and he gets the most out of them.

In the last two weeks, since Kansas removed its schematic advantage, Warinner has seen his name pop up as a likely candidate for head coach in Lawrence. If you're a fan of Ohio State scoring a lot of points and moving the ball at will, you're firmly rooting for that not to happen. He may not always win in living rooms, but he wins on the playing field.

What's more important?

View 45 Comments