Wednesday was National Signing Day, the first day high school senior prospects are allowed to sing Letters of Intent, finalizing their commitments to the school of their choice.
For Ohio State, NSD has typically been a non-event over the last decade. Jim Tressel’s recruiting style was to secure verbal commitments early. The prospects OSU was still in on when it came to NSD typically put on the hat of other schools during their signing day announcement ceremonies.
This year, with Urban Meyer in control of the program, things were a little different. Part of it was just a matter of circumstance. With Coach Meyer being hired so late in the process, he didn’t have a chance to secure early verbal commitments. He honored every scholarship offer that was given before he arrived on campus, but for the most part, there was a shift in the way recruiting was done once he stepped foot on OSU’s campus.
Over the last two months, OSU underwent a whirlwind of official visits, flipping commitments, securing new commitments, seeing some of the biggest names in the world of uncommitted players showing sudden interest in OSU, even if it was just passing interest in a few cases.
It all came to a head on Wednesday, as Urban Meyer batted a perfect 1.000 on his first signing day. He secured LOIs from every player who was verbally committed. Additionally, there were two announcement ceremonies Coach Meyer was keeping a close eye on. One was in North Carolina, where Jamal Marcus was deciding between ECU and OSU. Not a final pairing many are used to seeing, but there were a decent number of pundits who were predicting Marcus to stay close to home and attend ECU. That wasn’t the case, though, as Marcus, a player Urban Meyer and his staff were just raving about yesterday, picked Ohio State.
Then later in the day, one of the biggest announcements of the recruiting season for OSU was taking place. Kyle Dodson, the big offensive lineman from Cleveland Heights was picking between Wisconsin, USC, and Ohio State. This was a big one for the Buckeyes, as the team was painfully thin in quality OL depth. They needed Dodson in a big way, and if he picked USC, as even just the day before some Ohio State recruiting insiders felt was going to happen, it would have been a devastating blow. But then this happened:
In what was definitely one of the coolest and most unique announcements I’ve ever seen (I mean, come on, who’s not tired of the stupid hat game that recruits love to play these days?), Kyle Dodson invited his teammates to surround him and help take part in his announcement for Ohio State. Urban Meyer surely was breathing a sigh of relief over that one.
And with that, Coach Meyer and the Buckeyes got every player they were hoping for on NSD. That doesn’t mean this class is quite finished yet, however. There were 2 players OSU had brought in for official visits that were not planning on making NSD announcements, but instead holding off on signing for a week to allow them to take other visits.
One was 4-star WR/CB Davonte’ Neal from Scottsdale, Arizona and the other was Stefon Diggs, a 5-star WR (the #2 WR in the country) from Olney, Maryland. Most people thought OSU had room for both and would gladly take both, were hoping for one, but were likely to get neither. But weird things happen on signing day sometimes.
Rumors began to explode through the recruiting world that both Neal and Diggs were very high on Ohio State and were perhaps even considered strong leans for OSU. Rumors then came down that Neal might be cancelling his final visits and announcing for OSU on Wednesday. That was shortly followed by rumors that Diggs might be doing the same thing.
Both of those rumors were ultimately shot down by the recruits themselves. They would both be waiting at least a couple days to finalize their decisions. Later in the day, though, as Urban Meyer began his press tour to discuss the class, he started saying OSU only had room for one more. Then Rivals’ Mike Farrell made huge waves when he announced that Davonte’ Neal tried to commit to Ohio State, but was told that Ohio State wouldn’t (or couldn’t) take him.
This has lead to speculation that Ohio State prefers Stefon Diggs, and feels very good about their chances of landing Diggs on this class. If this is true, it’s a huge gamble by Urban Meyer. Neal is a special playmaker and would provide the kind of speed and breakout potential that the roster is sorely lacking. Quite frankly, I’m surprised Ohio State couldn’t find room to take both Neal and Diggs, but Urban Meyer is sticking to his pledge of not oversigning. If Diggs comes, all will be forgotten and an already amazing class will be even better. If Diggs goes to Florida, I think Meyer will regret not taking Neal.
So let’s look at the Class of 2012 as it stands today. All players have sent in signed LOIs.
- Noah Spence – 5* DE (Harrisburg, PA)
- Adolphus Washington – 5* DE (Cincinnati, OH)
- Tommy Schutt – 5* DT (Glen Ellyn, IL)
- Brionte Dunn – 5* RB (Canton, OH)
- Armani Reeves – 4* CB (West Roxbury, MA)
- Se’Von Pittman – 4* DE (Canton, OH)
- Joshua Perry – 4* OLB (Lewis Center, OH)
- Taylor Decker – 4* OT (Vandalia, OH)
- Camren Williams – 4* OLB (West Roxbury, MA)
- Najee Murray – 4* CB (Steubenville, OH)
- Warren Ball – 4* RB (Columbus, OH)
- David Perkins – 4* OLB (South Bend, IN)
- Kyle Dodson – 4* OT (University Heights, OH)
- Devan Bogard – 4* S (Cleveland, OH)
- Mike Thomas – 4* WR (Fork Union, VA by way of Woodland Hills, CA)
- Joey O’Connor – 3* OG (Windsor, CO)
- Blake Thomas – 3* TE (Cleveland, OH)
- Luke Roberts – 3* MLB (Lancaster, OH)
- Patrick Elflein – 3* OG (Pickerington, OH)
- Tyvis Powell – 3* S (Bedford, OH)
- Frank Epitropoulos – 3* WR (Upper Arlington, OH)
- Jamal Marcus – 3* DE (Durham, NC)
- Jacoby Boren – 3* OG (Pickerington, OH)
- Ricquan Southward – 3* WR (Lakeland, FL)
- Cardale Jones – 3* QB (Fork Union, VA by way of Cleveland, OH)
And there you have it, your new Buckeyes. Those who were concerned about the “fence around Ohio” in the wake of the scandal and firing of Jim Tressel will be happy to see how well Urban Meyer and Luke Fickell did in keeping the fence up. There were fourteen 4 and 5 star prospects in Ohio. The Buckeyes offered scholarships to 13 of them, and of those 13, the Buckeyes secured LOIs from 9 of them.
It is worth noting, though, that of the 4 who didn’t go to Ohio State, 3 of them went to Michigan (Kyle Kalis, Tom Strobel, and Chris Wormley). However, Chris Wormley was always going to Michigan and never seriously considered OSU. The one that hurts the most and may come back to haunt OSU the most will obviously be Kalis, the 5-star OT from St Edward who infamously switched from OSU to Michigan.
In all, though, this was an amazing class (currently ranked #3 in the country by Scout.com) and both Urban Meyer and Luke Fickell deserve a ton of credit for keeping the class together and outperforming anyone’s wildest dreams with this class.