Many things help with recruiting in college football. But winning national championships provide more assistance than pretty much everything else.
Since Ohio State won the 2014 national title with a 42-20 victory over Oregon, Urban Meyer's program has charged forward with an impressive haul on the recruiting trail. It started essentially immediately after the Buckeyes took care of the Ducks, with Kareem Walker and Shaun Wade both committing on Jan. 12, 2015 — the day of the championship game.
Part of the 2016 class, Walker's commitment did not end up sticking. He now plays for the Michigan Wolverines. Wade, however, is in the 2017 class and enrolled in classes during the second week of January in Columbus.
By March 2016, 13 of what is now a 20-member 2017 recruiting class were already committed to the Buckeyes. Meyer and Co. continued to build steam, using that national title as a massive recruiting chip in the hunt to sign a brilliantly talented group.
As a result, there won't be too much excitement on Wednesday outside of National Letters of Intent flooding the fax machine at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
Ohio State's 2017 recruits have mostly been in the fold for a while now. When the sun rises on Wednesday, the Buckeyes should only be interested in about three commitment ceremonies: defensive tackles Marvin Wilson and Jay Tufele and offensive lineman Thayer Munford.
The latter does not have an offer from the Buckeyes yet — or at least has not made it public that he does — but all signs point to him choosing Ohio State. Meyer is set to sign five players from Texas (including three of the top six from the state) but he and Larry Johnson desperately want to make it six with the addition of Wilson. It won't be easy to pull Wilson from the south but early enrollees and Texas natives Jeffrey Okudah and Baron Browning are doing their best to make it happen.
Tufele is likely to stay out west and attend USC or Utah but the Buckeyes heavily recruited him as well. The staff probably knows where they stand on each player with under 12 hours until signing day.
Meyer's first five recruiting cycles provided much more intrigue come early February. Consider these players (and many others), whom the Buckeyes were after until the final hours and awaited decisions from on National Signing Day:
- 4-Star Offensive Lineman Kyle Dodson — signed with Ohio State
- 3-Star Linebacker Jamal Marcus — signed with Ohio State
- 4-Star CB/WR DaVonte' Neal — signed with Notre Dame
- 5-Star WR Stefon Diggs — signed with Maryland a week after signing day
- 5-Star S Vonn Bell — signed with Ohio State
- 4-Star RB Ezekiel Elliott — signed with Ohio State
- 4-Star WR James Clark — signed with Ohio State
- 4-Star LB Trey Johnson — signed with Ohio State
- 4-Star WR Taivon Jacobs — signed with Maryland
- 5-Star DE Malik McDowell — signed with Michigan State
- 4-Star DT Derrick Nnadi — signed with Florida State
- 4-Star DE Darius Slade — signed with Ohio State after flipping from Michigan State
- 4-Star OT Jamarco Jones — signed with Ohio State after reaffirming commitment a day earlier
- 4-Star WR K.J. Hill — signed with Ohio State after flipping from Arkansas
- 4-Star RB Mike Weber — signed with Ohio State
- 4-Star QB Torrance Gibson — signed with Ohio State
- 4-Star OT Isaiah Prince — signed with Ohio State
- 3-Star DT Josh Alabi — signed with Ohio State
- 5-Star ATH Mecole Hardman — signed with Georgia
- 4-Star CB Carlos Becker — signed with Florida State
- 4-Star JUCO OT Malcolm Pridgeon — signed with Ohio State
- 3-Star S K'Von Wallace — signed with Clemson
- 3-Star ATH Malik Harrison — signed with Ohio State
- 3-Star JUCO DE Jamar King — signed with Alabama
In 2017, only Wilson, Tufele and Munford carry interest provided any of the 11 commitments that are not already enrolled decide to flip to another program. That is not likely, however.
Munford is probably going to be a Buckeye while Wilson and Tufele are not. Wherever they choose to go to college, their decisions likely will not be all that surprising.
That is very different than previous years for Ohio State and Meyer. Winning the national championship has its perks, after all.