If you think back to Memorial Weekend, The Ohio State University football team was reaching the culmination of the darkest time in recent history. You’d have to go back to Woody Hayes’ unfortunate punch and resulting termination to find a more stunning end to such a successful period of OSU football.
With Jim Tressel being pushed aside despite the University’s administration previously proclaiming their full support of the coach, with the potential for more violations to surface in the fallout, with the heavy cloud of NCAA sanctions hanging overhead, with the daunting challenge of dealing with multiple suspensions to star players. All of these things were weighing heavily on the program.
So to think that Ohio State could have anything close to resembling hope, forget optimism, before the end of 2011 would be something of a miracle. Though we won’t know for sure until it’s official, Ohio State appears to have avoided the most severe sanctions. They hired one of the best coaches in college football today. They are assembling a team of the best recruiters and the best coaching staff that the school has ever seen.
All of which is great if you’re an Ohio State fan. But still, even the most excited observers had to preach cautious optimism and a level of restraint. Urban Meyer seems like the perfect coach at the perfect time for Ohio State, but hiring him at the end of November, with National Signing Day just a couple months away, it had to be too late to much about the 2012 Recruiting Class. Didn’t it?
Prior to Adolphus Washington committing to the Buckeyes, the class of 2012 wasn’t ranked in the Top 20 per Scout.com. With high profile in state recruits such as Se’Von Pittman, Kyle Dodson, Chris Wormley, Tom Strobel, and Kyle Kalis all committed to other Big Ten schools and no other 5 star recruits seriously considering the Buckeyes, Urban Meyer’s recruiting outlook for 2012 was bleak.
To top things off, the only 5 star recruit other than Washington, Canton GlenOak RB Brionte Dunn, a long time verbal commit to the Buckeyes, was looking more and more like he might switch. And to Michigan of all places.
Dunn originally committed to Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes. Then the scandal hit, Tressel was gone, and Kyle Kalis switched his allegiance from Ohio State to Michigan. For his part, Dunn never did de-commit, but he certainly loosened the definition of what “committed” means. He admitted he would be keeping his options open and looking around just in case.
Brionte Dunn then took unofficial visits to Michigan in back to back weekends, including for the Ohio State-Michigan game. It had to be difficult for Ohio State going up to Ann Arbor, losing to Michigan for the first time in 8 years, and having one of your most prized recruits sitting on the Michigan side of the field.
Michigan would make an in home visit (sans Brady Hoke), and with the relationships Brionte Dunn had with Michigan commits (including Kalis and Dunn’s own cousin, junior Dymonte Thomas) it just looked more and more like Dunn would be switching to Michigan. With an official visit to Michigan scheduled for this weekend, many felt this would be the weekend OSU officially lost Brionte Dunn.
Fortunately for Buckeye fans, Urban Meyer was having none of this. On his first day on the job, Meyer began calling every recruit he wanted. He spoke to Brionte Dunn and whatever he said to him on the phone seemed to bring Michigan’s momentum with the RB to a halt. Meyer spoke with Pittman, he spoke with Dodson. He spoke with Tommy Schutt, the 5 star d-line prospect from Illinois, who was committed to Penn State. He spoke with Jameis Winston, a star QB prospect from Alabama. He reached out to Noah Spence, a d-line prospect from Pennsylvania. He got in touch with Jordan Diamond, a top offensive tackle prospect from Chicago.
Last weekend, Urban Meyer was able to get Se’Von Pittman, Kyle Dodson, Jordan Diamond, Tommy Schutt, Brionte Dunn, and a bunch of other solid OSU commits, to all take an official visit together. In the time since that visit, we’ve seen Pittman and Schutt already announce they were switching to Ohio State.
Tuesday night, Urban Meyer pulled off one of the most impressive recruiting saves yet. Urban Meyer and RB coach Stan Drayton made an in home visit with Brionte Dunn, and during that visit, Brionte Dunn informed Meyer that he was done with his recruitment and was re-solidifying his commitment to play football at Ohio State. He has cancelled his official visit to Michigan and told Scout.com’s Bill Greene that he is “officially 150% a Buckeye”.
Suddenly that 2012 class that everyone thought was a lost cause is now ranked #8 in the country. And Urban Meyer isn’t done yet. Kyle Dodson could still switch to Ohio State. Jordan Diamond will be one to watch. Massachusetts LB Camren Williams took his official visit to Ohio State earlier this week and is another possibility. By the time Urban Meyer is done with this class, it could very well end up being a top 5 class.
Just think about that. From Memorial Day with no coach, no recruiting prospects, and no hope to Christmas with Urban Meyer and his recruiting prowess on full display. For sure, Urban Meyer sent shockwaves through the Big Ten this week with his recruiting, and coaches around the conference can’t feel great about the instant success Meyer is having.
Of course, recruiting is only part of the job. Urban Meyer still has to finish rounding out his coaching staff and then he has to get his system implemented into the scarlet and gray. But this is the season of recruiting, and the hiring of Urban Meyer is already off to a better start than anyone could have ever imagined.
Photo Credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images