Meyer has top-5 haul of recruits at Ohio State
Two minutes before Rossville, Ga., defensive back Vonn Bell
stepped before the cameras on Wednesday morning to declare where he
would go to school, he dialed Ohio State coach Urban Meyer’s cell
Too anxious to sit still, Meyer had gotten on a treadmill to
burn off his pent-up energy.
”(Bell) said, `You know I’m in, right?”’ Meyer recalled later.
”I said, `No I didn’t know you were in. Congratulations.”’
Bell’s commitment to the Buckeyes was the crowning piece to a
strong recruiting class for Meyer, who was hamstrung a year ago in
his first year at Ohio State because he wasn’t hired until late
November. He termed last year’s recruiting, which netted several
freshmen who made solid contributions to a stunning 12-0 season, as
”a bunch of cowboys out there trying to find players.”
Most major recruiting experts and publications rate the Buckeyes
in the top five in the nation – some even have them No. 1. So,
given a full year to work at it, Meyer and his staff had a huge
The group he brought in was rich in wide receivers along with
help up front and in the secondary on defense.
”We went to bed last night with three guys that were very on
edge as far as where (they were going),” Meyer said. ”I thought
if we hit one out of three, that’d be all right. Two out of three
would be a good day and three out of three would knock it out of
the park. We hit three out of three, so I’m very pleased.”
Bell supplied the biggest get. Rated as a five-star prospect by
most of the top recruiting services, the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder had
146 tackles and three interceptions as a senior at Ridgeland High.
On offense, he had more than 1,700 all-purpose yards and scored 21
He had been rumored to be going to Tennessee – until he pulled
Meyer out of his impromptu workout.
Unhappy with his receiving corps most of last season, Meyer
brought in potential wide-outs James Clark from New Smyrna Beach,
Fla., along with native Ohioans Gareon Conley, Darron Lee and Jalin
Marshall, and JC transfer Corey Smith.
Meyer’s offense requires deep threats and players who can
stretch the field – and a defense. He said he’s getting closer to
getting those weapons.
”When you run an offense where you want three or four split
guys all the time, and you only have one or two – it’s not
enough,” Meyer said. ”We’re starting to get a little bit of that
built up. We just didn’t have enough make-you-miss guys on offense
(last year). I think we addressed that.”
If there was an area where the Buckeyes came up short, it was
offensive linemen. They lost one senior from last year’s team
(right tackle Reid Fragel) and will lose starters Jack Mewhort,
Andrew Norwell, Corey Linsley and Marcus Hall after the 2013
season. Yet they signed just Tim Gardner, a 6-5, 320-pounder from
Indianapolis, and Evan Lisle, 6-6 and 290 from Centerville, Ohio,
in this year’s class.
Although they finally have last year’s bowl ban behind them, the
Buckeyes are still facing NCAA-mandated recruiting restrictions
that limit them by three scholarships this year and next. Meyer
said he didn’t think that would be a problem this season, although
he said even the loss of three scholarships can deprive a team of a
player who might blossom into a great contributor.
With the help of offensive coordinator Tom Herman, who used to
be an assistant coach at Rice, the Buckeyes made inroads in the
Lone Star state. They landed three prime players out of Texas in
quarterback J.T. Barrett, linebacker Mike Mitchell and running back
Late in the day, they added running back Ezekiel Elliott from
St. Louis as their 24th and final member of the class.
Meyer said he hopes in the future to get more players out of
Ohio and then ”cherry pick” top players from the south and
Asked if he was chasing after Alabama, which has won three of
the last four national championships, and the Southeastern
Conference, which has won the last seven national titles, Meyer
didn’t deny it.
He said the recruits he was pursuing at Ohio State weren’t
different from the ones that the Crimson Tide and the rest of the
SEC were after.
”Us and 130 other schools (are after) guys who run really fast
and are tough,” he said. ”There is a little bit of a chase going
on after the SEC. That’s fine. You have to give credit where credit
is due. And if that’s a perception that we’re chasing them, that’s
fine. I wouldn’t disagree with you.
”We want to increase the speed on our team a little bit.”
Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: