This one will be tough to top.
Back in February of 2013, Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes scored a massive signing day win when five-star safety Vonn Bell signed with Ohio State over the likes of Tennessee and Alabama. Later that year, Raekwon McMillan – another five-star from SEC territory – sided with the Buckeyes over Alabama and Clemson.
The Bell and McMillan victories are unquestionably two of Meyer's greatest accomplishments on the recruiting trail since his arrival in Columbus. Both players were a major part of the 2014 national championship run and both would go on to be selected in the second round of the NFL Draft.
Four days ago, the Buckeyes signed the nation's top offensive tackle in five-star Nicholas Petit-Frere. It will take some time before we're truly able to evaluate the magnitude of this signing, but right now it's fair to label last week's conquest as Ohio State's biggest recruiting win of the Meyer Era.
If you were following the 2018 recruiting cycle, then you probably noticed that defensive end and offensive tackle were two of the bigger areas of need. Each month we updated our recruiting board, and for virtually the entire process we had Fairfield's Jackson Carman at the No. 1 spot.
Did that mean we felt Carman was the best tackle in the country? Absolutely not. But he was an in-state five-star who played a position of need and took numerous visits to Columbus. Simply put: He was a talented player and we felt he was the most realistic offensive tackle target for the Ohio State staff.
Nicholas Petit-Frere made his debut on our board back in September when he checked in at the No. 11 spot. At the time, it looked like Ohio State was trailing Alabama, Notre Dame, and Florida, so things hadn't exactly taken off for the Buckeyes and the then four-star tackle. Fast forward to November and the 6-foot-6, 272-pounder had jumped up to No. 7 but was still behind Jackson Carman and Rasheed Walker.
From November's Heat Check:
Tampa's Nicholas Petit-Frere moves up a few spots, but there's no reason for too much excitement just yet. The turmoil in Gainesville will likely hurt the Gators' chances, but Notre Dame may end up being the beneficiary of the McElwain firing. The country's No. 4 tackle does plan on visiting Columbus again, so it's certainly one to watch.
Our final board was unveiled in January following the inaugural early signing period. The Buckeyes already had signed four-star tackle Max Wray, but it was evident that they needed a true left tackle prospect. We moved the Berkeley Prep star all the way up to No. 2 on our board; behind only Walker. At that point, it was clear that Walker was headed to either Ohio State or Penn State while Petit-Frere's recruitment remained mostly a mystery.
It's never easy to get a read on a recruit like this. Petit-Frere and his family were meticulous throughout the entire process and really didn't do a whole lot of talking. What we did know was that he valued academics and was looking for a fit both on and off the field. Thus, it wasn't really a surprise that schools like Michigan and Notre Dame were two of the top contenders.
But what was it that Ohio State did to eventually snag one of the country's top prospects?
When meeting with the media on Wednesday, Urban Meyer described Petit-Frere as "the most thorough evaluator" of schools that he has ever recruited. Greg Schiano and Greg Studrawa were both instrumental in Ohio State's push following the recruiting dead period which ended in mid-January. Securing the final official visit was good news in itself, but culminating that relationship during the official was also of paramount importance.
The Buckeyes have a glaring need at offensive tackle, so the depth chart was likely a fairly easy sell. The tricky part – especially for a recruit as thorough as Petit-Frere – was checking off all of the other boxes: relationships, academics, and life after football, to name a few. For a young man potentially looking for a business degree, can anyone really blame him for being impressed with what Ohio State has to offer?
Following his announcement, Notre Dame and Michigan fans did just what one would expect: They began questioning whether or not a 3.8 GPA student at one of Florida's finest prep schools actually had any interest in academics. Because obviously those are the only two schools in America with anything to offer. Yawn.
The impact could be immediate for the Buckeyes. The departure of Jamarco Jones may mean that Isaiah Prince slides over to left tackle. Thayer Munford saw action as a true freshman in 2017, but there's really not a whole lot of depth at the position. Ohio State's newest five-star will arrive in June, and his development over the summer will likely give us a much better idea on what to expect next season.
Petit-Frere has always had the length that you look for in a tackle, but he used his senior season to pack on some needed pounds. He was one of the top performers during the Under Armour All-America Game festivities and used this experience to help boost his stock. The final composite rankings have him as the No. 7 player in the entire country's and the top offensive tackle.
A few weeks back Rivals.com provided some feedback on how the Berkeley Prep tackle earned his fifth star and a bit of discussion on his top schools. A certain program in Columbus wasn't even mentioned, but again this one was rather tricky to get a good read on, so you can't really fault them for that.
The biggest boom of the cycle came in its waning moments, and Meyer's reaction on signing day may have only been rivaled by that of Ryan Day's young son. Petit-Frere was a player Ohio State had to have. He also was a player that no one thought Ohio State was going to get. That all changed on Tuesday afternoon when he delivered the good news to the Buckeyes' staff and the crystal balls began to flow.
Ohio State is getting a high character, intelligent young man who also just so happens to be the best offensive tackle in America. Urban Meyer, Greg Schiano, and Greg Studrawa beat out every other program in the country and provided the fanbase with the added bonus of copious amounts of tears from Ann Arbor and South Bend.
Things worked out quite well for the aforementioned Raekwon McMillan and Vonn Bell. It would be a shock if we aren't saying the same about Nicholas Petit-Frere in the near future.