Urban Meyer took a risk when he hired Bill Davis.
The two go way back to their college playing days at Cincinnati, sure, and Davis has over 20 years of coaching experience in the NFL. But there is something Davis never did in his career to this point, something Meyer calls the lifeblood of any college program.
Davis never recruited before he got to Ohio State.
“It’s brand new to me,” Davis said recently in his first meeting with the media since he was hired Dec. 21. “But like I told Coach Meyer, that’s a positive. You tell me how you want it done and that’s how you’re going to get it done.”
The early returns have been overwhelmingly positive.
Recruits targeted by Davis thus far don't seem fazed by Davis’ lack of experience; his long tenure in the NFL is rather appealing. Meyer himself said Davis hit the ground running.
“It’s all work ethic and relationships and he’s been great at both so far,” Meyer said.
But wasn’t there a bit of apprehension from Meyer, despite the fact he and Davis go way back? There had to be, right?
“It’s always a concern,” Meyer said. “There’s not a chance [Davis would be hired] if I don’t know him and know what kind of work ethic he has."
"Outstanding work ethic and the [defensive] unit leader in his group, Greg Schiano, is as good a recruiter as there is in the country. You’ve got Kerry Coombs in there too and Larry Johnson so it’s going very well.”
Davis replaced Luke Fickell as Ohio State’s linebackers coach. Those are some big shoes to fill when you consider not only the amount of NFL talent Fickell produced but his success as a recruiter for the Buckeyes. Nobody on Ohio State's staff was better at finding under-the-radar recruits who turned into stars than Fickell.
Davis’ NFL pedigree, however, is something that will almost certainly be used to help in that regard. He spent 20-plus years coaching at the level every player who comes to Ohio State wants to reach. Davis knows what an NFL linebacker looks like and what it takes to get to that level.
You better believe that’s a huge selling point for recruits.
“The routine and the way we do recruiting here is I’m a blank slate and we’re making it whatever [Meyer] wants it to be,” Davis said. “I’m attacking the recruiting trail like the rest of the staff is.”
It remains to be seen if Davis will have success in the world of recruiting, though. After all, landing top prospects at Ohio State is what it’s all about. But while it may take a little time for Davis to see some results, it’d be surprising if they didn’t come.
“There’s no shortcut in recruiting. The people that do that end up not going to bowl games and stuff like that,” Meyer said. “It’s about a motto: You’ve got to go get the guys. And we’re still in the process of some guys.”
Under Meyer, rarely does somebody with no recruiting experience get hired at Ohio State. The risk is too great.
Meyer’s longtime relationship with Davis outweighed that risk, though.
“It’s all work ethic and relationships and that’s the kind of person he is,” Meyer said, “and he’s done a really good job.