The night before National Signing Day has been easier some years than others for Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer.
Tuesday was one of the harder ones.
“You have eventful and uneventful Signing Days. It was a very eventful night,” Meyer said Wednesday when addressing the media in regards to the Buckeyes’ 2015 recruiting class. “ I looked at my clock one time and it's 12:10 and I'm still talking to Stan Drayton.”
Meyer was talking to Drayton about a key prospect who was on the fence for Ohio State, Mike Weber. It had gone down to the final hour and Weber was not certain if he was going to choose the Buckeyes or their arch-rival Michigan.
But that wasn’t the only reason Meyer was up late stressing Tuesday night. There were four other players in situations similar to Weber’s. Torrance Gibson, K.J. Hill, Isaiah Prince and Josh Alabi were also “not secured,” Meyer said.
“There was a little anxiety around here during the morning,” he said. “But our guys did a good job.”
Boy, did they ever.
Not only did Meyer and the Buckeyes land Weber and poach him away from his home-state Wolverines, but they also landed all four of the other prospects who were on the fence.
Altogether, Ohio State received 23 National Letters of Intent on Wednesday. Put that together with four early enrollees and the Buckeyes had a class of 27 members, and one that ranks in the Top 10 nationally.
“We just put together a great class,” Meyer said. “Our support staff did a great job and so did our coaching staff.”
But it might have just been a good class instead of a great one if not for the Buckeyes’ 5-for-5 performance on the guys who were somewhat on the bubble.
Hill, a wide receiver from Arkansas should give Ohio State some much-needed depth at a position it is losing two key contributors in Devin Smith and Evan Spencer. The Buckeyes like Hill’s explosiveness from the wide receiver position.
“When a guy like Torrance Gibson says he wants to go elsewhere, in my opinion that’s just going to help sell us. He’s going to go to other places and see that they’re really cool, they’re really good but they’re just not quite Ohio State.”– Zach Smith
“K.J. is a dynamic player and he’s a kid that we were really recruiting hard,” wide receivers coach Zach Smith said. “He’s an electric kid. He can fly and with the ball in his hands he’s a play waiting to happen.”
The same can be said about Gibson and Weber, two of the most highly-touted skill players in the country. Gibson gives the Buckeyes a dynamic athlete at the quarterback position while Weber will fit right in at running back with the talented duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Curtis Samuel.
Alabi and Prince give Ohio State some much-needed depth on the offensive and defensive line.
All five bring something different to the table, but all are equally as important. That’s why it was crucial for the Buckeyes to land all of these prospects, especially considering how close they were to going someplace else.
“You’re talking about young men, young kids who are making the toughest decision that they’ve ever had to make in their lives. It’s a very important decision that affects their future,” Ohio State running backs coach Stan Drayton said. “I wasn’t good enough to go through what these kids have to go through on a Signing Day, but I can’t imagine the pressure that they must feel.”
Recruiting is always evolving, always changing. The Ohio State coaches seem to be doing a solid job of keeping up with the times.
“It’s going to be a battle everywhere you go and kids are going to make decisions at the 10th hour and kids are going to have uncertainty,” Ohio State cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs said. “Our job is to continue to be supportive, present the information, develop relationships long term that can withstand that because that’s hard for a kid.”
It may have been a little more stressful than the Buckeyes would have liked, but ultimately Alabi, Gibson, Hill, Prince and Weber all wound up as Buckeyes.
Because in the end, sometimes selling a school like Ohio State isn't that difficult.
“My mentality in recruiting — and it’s not just because they pay my paycheck — I really believe Ohio State is different than anywhere else because I know it is. I grew up here and I’ve loved this university since the time I was an infant,” Smith said. “So when a guy like Torrance Gibson says he wants to go elsewhere, in my opinion that’s just going to help sell us. He’s going to go to other places and see that they’re really cool, they’re really good but they’re just not quite Ohio State and in the end that’s what happened.”