Ohio State's Recruiting Pitch is on Full Display During NFL Draft

By Andrew Lind on April 28, 2018 at 8:10 am
Denzel Ward
Denzel Ward via Matthew Emmons, USA TODAY Sports

Theory versus testimony.

When Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer sits on the couch in a five-star prospect’s living room, he doesn’t sell him and his parents on a vision. Instead, he shows them results.

Meyer — who is entering his seventh year at the helm — has the highest winning percentage of any coach in school history. He also has a national championship and two conference titles to his name since he arrived in Columbus. Those rings on his fingers demand attention.

In today’s age of recruiting, though, that’s not nearly enough to land a prospect’s pledge.

Coaches also have to provide their players with avenues outside of football, such as Ohio State’s Real Life Wednesdays program. And the Buckeyes do just that, inviting some of the business world’s most prominent, influential and successful people to speak with the team. They also host an annual job fair and set up internships that could turn into careers once a player’s football career comes to a close.

Using that formula, Ohio State pieced together its two best recruiting classes of all time in back-to-back years. And the train doesn’t look to be slowing anytime soon, with four commitments in the last two weeks — though one was from the Class of 2020.

Also working in the Buckeyes’ favor is the fact that Meyer can point to the NFL Draft as testimony for what can happen if you buy into the program. While some schools sent out graphics this week with a prospect’s name on a draft card — or their face photoshopped onto a player who is holding up their favorite team’s jersey — Ohio State simply shared the following to its social media accounts:

As the graphic mentioned, Meyer and longtime strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti have sent 62 players to the National Football League in their 12 years together at Florida and Ohio State. Their career earnings top the $700 million mark, a number that will need to be updated when first-round picks Denzel Ward (Cleveland Browns) and Billy Price (Cincinnati Bengals); second-round pick Tyquan Lewis (Indianapolis Colts); and third-round picks Jerome Baker (Miami Dolphins) and Sam Hubbard (Bengals) sign their rookie deals in the coming weeks.

Throw in players hoping to hear their name called when rounds 4-7 resume this afternoon — such as offensive tackle Jamarco Jones, defensive end Jalyn Holmes, linebacker Chris Worley, safety Damon Webb and quarterback J.T. Barrett — and the draft has become free advertisement space for the Buckeyes.

“Ohio State is a national brand and will always be and always has been, but I think the success we’ve had recently and the exposure that this program has had for the right reasons has really been beneficial,” Meyer said on National Signing Day last year. “The one area, too, is that they see that these kids not only leave this program and go to the NFL, [but] they start. We have Rookie of the Year [on offense in Ezekiel Elliott] and Rookie of the Year [on defensive in Joey Bosa]. We have Mike Thomas go in, and he’s dominant and in the Pro Bowl. I’m watching the Pro Bowl, a Buckeye carries the ball, a Buckeye is blocking for him and a Buckeye tackles him. You know, it’s a lot of good stuff out there.”

Surely Georgia four-star center Harry Miller — who took an official visit earlier this month and appears to be closing in on a decision between Ohio State and Stanford — has taken notice of Price’s early selection. Or an elite cornerback just realized the Buckeyes have had at least one player at his position go in the first round for three-consecutive years, a run that started with Eli Apple in 2016 and continued with Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley last spring. 

That kind of testimony certainly makes Meyer’s job a lot easier, wouldn’t you say?

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