March 2, 2013
Meyer focused on Buckeye State
Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Taking a look at Ohio State's 2013 recruiting class, one may ask "what happened to the 'great state' of Ohio?" Just 10 of the 24 players who signed National Letters of Intent to play at OSU this past February hailed from the Buckeye State- an alarmingly low number for what is usually considered a top five state in terms of high school football talent.
Asked about the rarity of having a recruiting class in Columbus comprised of fewer than 50 percent Ohioans, Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer admitted that he'd like to do a better job recruiting homegrown players, but that it was difficult to make connections with players and coaches in what was just his first full-year recruiting at OSU.
"I would rather probably get another three or four from the in state from now on," Meyer said. "What happened last year was we got behind the eight-ball a little bit. We're not going to offer a player until we get to know him. So this time last year we closed a class. Next week all of a sudden offers started jumping all over the place in state kids in Ohio. And I had never met them."
The players in OSU's second-ranked 2013 class who fans seem to be the most excited about- Dontre Wilson, Vonn Bell, Mike Mitchell, and James Clark- will all come to Columbus from out-of-state. Part of the reasoning behind that has to do with Meyer's desire to land the top talent in the country, and part of it has to do with the OSU staff still forging in-state connections.
Another explanation for the lack of enthusiasm for the Ohio players in the 2013 class could be that the state's best player- athlete Jalin Marshall- committed to the Buckeyes more than a year before his National Signing Day. Meyer, however, remains just as excited about the four-star prospect's capabilities and the dynamics that he could add to the OSU offense.
"Can you imagine Ohio State University and the state of Ohio and Buckeye Nation if he would have waited and put on a hat? That would have been a great day," Meyer said. "We think he's certainly if not the best player in Ohio, one of them."
Further concerns about Meyer's lack of emphasis on recruiting the state of Ohio this year have been raised due to the fact that OSU's chief rival- Michigan- successfully recruited nine players from the Buckeye State this year. Pointing out that former Wolverine stars Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson also called Ohio home before heading to Ann Arbor, Meyer said that his home state being plucked for talent by Michigan- among other schools- is just business as usual.
"That school's always had great Ohio players on there," Meyer said. "It's not just them. You're going to come to Ohio to get great players. There's well-coached players in America in the state of Ohio. It's old-fashioned football, old-fashioned coaching."
If actions speak louder than words, then Meyer's praise for Ohio high school football isn't just lip service. Three of the Buckeyes' first four commits for their 2014 class are Ohioans, and the Ohio State coaching staff is already targeting several high profile players within the state.
Now with a full-year of making relationships with Ohio's coaches and players under his belt, Meyer is confident that his next recruiting class will have much more of a hometown feel to it.
"The one advantage, we're already knee deep in '14 players, 2014 players. We didn't have that luxury a year ago," Meyer said. "We're much further ahead now than we've ever been since I've been here, which is only a year. We're much further ahead. So we would rather not be so much national ... we'd much rather have more of a base here and then start branching out a little bit later."
And given that the values of the Ohio high school programs coincide with those that Meyer is trying to instill in his own, that that shouldn't come as a surprise.
"The one thing I love about the players in the state of Ohio, the respect factor is there. In my opinion, it's greater or more than greater than any state in the country, where the high school coach is still in charge of the program. When you go meet with a player in Ohio, you're going to meet with his high school coach. And you can't say that about all the states across the country," Meyer said. "That's my favorite part about recruiting the state of Ohio."
...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now for a FREE Trial