DALLAS – When Ohio State fans, coaches and players look back on the 2013 recruiting class, they will almost certainly look back with fond memories.
The 2013 class featured names like Ezekiel Elliott, Joey Bosa, Darron Lee and a number of others that are already on NFL rosters. However, there are still a handful of Buckeyes from that class, including quarterback J.T. Barrett, that are preparing for their final game in scarlet and gray on Friday.
For the seven remaining members of Urban Meyer's second recruiting class at Ohio State, their collegiate career will have featured at least two bowl wins, two Big Ten titles and a national title in 2014. Because of their success both on and off the field, Meyer said Thursday that the 2013 class will go down in Ohio State history as one he will never forget.
"They haven't been perfect, but they've been pretty close. And they've won a lot of football games. They've done it the right way. You don't hear about any issues we have to deal with off the field," Meyer said. "Not being disrespectful of any other universities, but Ohio State is a very proud program that you're expected to represent the university the right way. And I think that group in particular have, and I want to make sure they'll never be forgotten because I know I'll never forget them."
In total, Ohio State's 2013 class already features five first-round NFL draft picks, and counting should Billy Price get selected on the first day of the 2018 draft. Despite all of the success of the 2013 cycle, perhaps the most talked about player in the class is also the most discussed and even disputed.
Barrett holds most quarterback records at Ohio State, yet his career has featured a whirlwind of ups and downs that has seen Buckeye fans call for his job at times throughout his senior season.
“I want to make sure they'll never be forgotten because I know I'll never forget them.”– Urban Meyer on 2013 recruiting class
Perhaps part of the reason Barrett has come under so much scrutiny is because of the lack of championship performances in his career. It was no fault of Barrett that he was forced to sit out the 2014-15 national championship run with a fractured ankle, yet in four years, the Texas native played in just one Big Ten title game, which he won 27-21 over Wisconsin earlier in the month.
Meyer said winning the 2017 Cotton Bowl against USC would be a fitting way for Barrett to close his career as Ohio State's signal caller.
"I still think at the end of the day, quarterbacks are all measured – I think yards are great and et cetera, but how you really are measured as a quarterback is how many championships you won," Meyer said. "So I really wanted to see him get that championship.
"And then to now be an opportunity to win the Cotton Bowl championship. So J.T. has done it all for us. Now it's an opportunity to close out his career in his home state and say he's a Cotton Bowl champion."
As for the rest of the class, which also features Michael Hill, Marcus Baugh, Chris Worley, Tracy Sprinkle, Tyquan Lewis and Price, Meyer said the state of Ohio State's program can be attributed to the 2013 class and the mark it left in Columbus.
"It's a very strong, healthy program because we recruited the right kind of guys. And no one is ever claiming to be perfect or we would have never lost a game," Meyer said. "But I think when you look at this era of what those kids did for Ohio State, for the great state of Ohio, for their families, and for college football, it's going to be very positive memories for what those kids have done."