Ohio State is facing a bowl ban next season and reduction in scholarships over the next three years. But despite all that baggage, new Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer managed to land what by all accounts is one of the top recruiting classes entering the 2012 season.
The Buckeyes received 25 signed national letters of intent Wednesday, including a couple of late surprise additions to round out Meyer's first recruiting class. And a quick glance at what this class looked like pre-Meyer and post-Meyer shows why Ohio State is paying him a $4 million dollar base salary.
The man can flat-out recruit.
Whether going by Rivals, Scout or ESPN, Ohio State's '12 class is among the nation's best, and the consensus top class in the Big Ten. The pride of the class are blue-chip defensive end prospects Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington, both a pair of explosive pass-rushers and terrific athletes, and both ranked in the top three among defensive line recruits in the nation.
(By the way, the folks over at Eleven Warriors have a great breakdown of the 2012 class.)
There were also a few surprise additions today for the Buckeyes, albeit very pleasant ones. Four-star rated offensive lineman Kyle Dodson and Jamal Marcus intentions were for the most part unknown heading into Signing Day and both ended up in the Scarlet and Gray. Dodson, a behemoth 6-foot-6, 310-pounder from Cleveland Heights, is expected to book end the Buckeye offensive line for some time. He had flirted with Wisconsin before family helped guide him to remain in-state.
Much the emphasis on this year's recruiting class was on the defensive side of the ball, which includes five defensive lineman — four are at least four-star rated — four linebackers and four defensive backs. The Buckeyes also focused on improving what at times last season was a woefully inept offensive line by adding five recruits — including three four-star prospects and another Boren.
Ohio State did, however, add some skill player that could make a major impact on the offense in years to come. They landed the two top-rated running backs in-state, both ranked in the top 25 nationally in Canton GlenOak's Brionte Dunn and Columbus St. Francis DeSales' Warren Ball. Both are north of 6-foot-1 and 210-pounds and could push the existing stable of 'backs for carries, although if tradition keeps, one or both will be redshirted next season.
Fifteen of the 25-man recruiting class are from the state of Ohio, something we've mentioned would be crucial for interim head coach Luke Fickell and Meyer to carry over from the Jim Tressel regime. The Dispatch points out one of the strategies Meyer employed when making his pitch to players and families.
Part of the key, Meyer said, was to be proactive about the NCAA sanctions.
He acknowledged that the program was taken aback by the bowl ban. The strategy was to bring it up to recruits before they would even ask about it.
The Buckeyes were remarkably successful. Not only did they hold on to their own commitments, but they were able to persuade several other blue-chip players, including [Se'Von] Pittman, [Tommy] Schutt and [Taylor] Decker, to switch.
So full disclosure sometimes works to your advantage. Hear that, Gene Smith?
There's just one incy wincy thing, though, that could present a bit of a problem. By most reports, the Buckeyes have 59 players unofficially slotted to return next season. Add a 25-man recruiting class and that makes for 84 scholarships, which is one less than the Big Ten draws the line at. But part of Ohio State's NCAA sanctions is the reduction of nine scholarships over three years. That means Ohio State only has 82 scholarships to hand out next season.
Furthermore, The Dispatch reports that the Buckeyes are still awaiting final decisions from another pair of high-end wide outs in Stefon Diggs and Davonte Neal. There are loopholes that would allow the Buckeyes to sign more than 25 players to the recruting class, but they will still have to create
scholarships space for them on the roster. Running backs Jaamal Berry and Rod Smith would appear prime candidates after their off-the-field issues, but these are decisions that Meyer will not take lightly.
Regardless, there are hundreds of head coaches throughout the nation who would love to have Meyer's potential problems on their hands.
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