Erin Dunston had already worked for three Power 5 universities before she became Ohio State’s new director of on-campus recruiting earlier this year.
Most recently, Dunston was the director of on-campus recruiting at Kansas, where she spent two seasons (2019-20). Before that, Dunston served as an athletics administration associate at Purdue and was a graduate assistant for football operations at LSU.
In her first three months of the job in Columbus, though, Dunston has seen an approach to recruiting at Ohio State that stands out from every other program she’s been a part of.
“All the coaches are involved with every recruit,” Dunston said while meeting with Ohio State reporters for the first time on Friday. “So it’s not just a position coach, it could be their coach as well as another coach that’s also involved in recruiting a kid or building that relationship. We focus heavy on the families as well, which I think is very, I’m not gonna say unique but it’s very different from what I’m used to.
“And I think Coach Day, he says tough love and you’re gonna fight to be the best version of yourself. And when we talk to these parents, that is the atmosphere that Ohio State has. And so we’re actually, it’s not a pitch, it’s what the atmosphere is and what they’re gonna walk into. And I think that’s the difference between other universities that I’ve been to is what we’re telling these kids is what they’re going to get.”
While Dunston started her career working in football operations, she ultimately chose to pursue a career in recruiting because she wanted to have the opportunity to work directly with athletes. And seeing the way Ryan Day, Mark Pantoni and the rest of Ohio State’s staff build relationships with players and their families is what brought her to Ohio State, where she replaced former Ohio State director of on-campus recruiting Tori Magers after Magers took a job outside the industry.
“Honestly, the people and the vision and the family atmosphere that Coach Day and Mark Pantoni really showed me is what brought me to Ohio State,” Dunston said. “What attracted me to recruiting was building the relationship and seeing these young student-athletes progress in their career and with these programs.”
”The difference between other universities that I’ve been to is what we’re telling these kids is what they’re going to get.”– Erin Dunston on what stands out about Ohio State from other programs she's worked for
Dunston believes her two years at Kansas enhanced her skills and prepared her well for her new job at Ohio State, where she hopes to help the Buckeyes take their recruiting to even greater heights.
“I think my personality and my organizational skills, my experience is what is gonna allow me to help elevate Ohio State in the recruiting aspect,” Dunston said.
Her first few months at Ohio State have been spent preparing for what will be an unprecedently busy month of June, when recruits will finally be able to visit Ohio State (and all other schools) for the first time in nearly 15 months. As the coordinator for all on-campus recruiting activities including official and unofficial visits, Dunston has had to hit the ground running, as Ohio State is set to host more than 50 official visitors and 150 to 200 unofficial visitors next month.
That will certainly keep her busy for the next four weeks until the next dead period starts on June 28, but she’s excited for the opportunity to finally start meeting the players Ohio State is recruiting in person.
“Honestly, I’m just super-excited to get everyone back on campus,” Dunston said. “Working in this field and being with these prospects and getting to know them, it’s just an exciting opportunity to have them finally back and transition back to normal times.”
Pantoni, who has worked closely with Dunston to make sure everything is organized for the month ahead, says she has been a great addition to the staff so far.
“Erin’s been a rock star coming in right away, and she’s been great, and we haven’t lost a step with her,” Pantoni said.