Ohio State Recruiting Under Urban Meyer: Is The Big Ten Ready For This?

Urban Meyer has less than two months to finish out his first class at Ohio State. Our Buckeyes expert says his aggressive style is well-suited to doing just that.

Wednesday night I was fortunate enough to chat with Tyler T. of Along The Olentangy, the excellent Ohio State site on the SB Nation network. Our main topic of conversation was, of course, Urban Meyer. And specifically Urban's plan to recruit at Ohio State. 

And it's safe to say that Tyler believes Meyer is going to be a major hit. 

"Meyer is bringing that SEC aggressiveness that hasn't been seen in the Big Ten. And I think he'll have immediate success with it because people haven't been exposed to it," said Tyler.

After all, Meyer is the coach who admitted to texting Florida Gators recruits while in church. The endless effort Meyer put in is believed to have contributed to his health issues that led to his retirement from Florida. So far this time around, some of the work is already done.

As I covered yesterday, Meyer already has a solid recruiting class thanks to Luke Fickell. 

And the group left by Fickell is pretty good. Currently, the Buckeyes have 16 verbal commitments. By Rivals' star rating, the class is 18th in the country, with a 3.3 average. That's also good for fourth in the Big Ten, behind Nebraska, Michigan and Wisconsin.

I'd personally place this class second in the Big Ten, behind only Michigan, as Nebraska has only eight commitments and Wisconsin only 12.

According to Tyler, Meyer plans to honor all current Buckeye verbal commitments. And that should be easy to do, Tyler points out, because Fickell didn't take fillers. Pretty much every current commitment is of Ohio State caliber. It's smart strategy to honor these commitments, because failing to do so could get Meyer off on the wrong foot with the tight-knit coaching community in Ohio. 

Tyler identified three major needs for the Buckeyes: wide receiver, offensive line and linebacker.

With four receiver commitments, Luke Fickell already filled this need. But Meyer's spread attack requires a lot of receivers, and he is known to overload the position. Tyler expects Meyer will take another receiver if he can grab one who is elite. Joel Caleb out of Virginia might be just that player. The 6'2", 200-pound athlete has drawn comparisons to Percy Harvin. Tyler expects Meyer to push hard for Caleb, who was heavily considering Penn State before the sexual abuse scandal. 

Tyler also expects that some current receivers on the team will not fit Meyer's spread offense. He expects some to transfer and others to move to defensive back. This will open up more scholarships Meyer can use on the type of receiver he wants.

On the offensive line, Meyer will be going hard after Kyle Dodson -- a player once ignored by the Buckeyes. According to Tyler, Ohio State thought it had time with the late-blooming Dodson and waited to offer. Wisconsin did not, and Dodson jumped. The 6'6", 315-pound Clevelander may be open to Ohio State once again. 

Meyer also likes another player to whom Jim Tressel showed very little interest: Taylor Decker, an offensive lineman committed to Notre Dame. This would be a tough pull for the Buckeyes, as the Ohioan has been committed to Notre Dame since March. 

The Buckeyes may have an easier time with offensive tackle Jordan Diamond of Chicago. The 6'6", 300-pound tackle has been completely open in the process, leading several fan bases to believe he was favoring their team at one point in the process. Diamond had an offer from the previous staff, and Tyler expects Meyer to be in contact shortly.

And Tyler expects Meyer to throw an unsuccessful hail mary at the one-time Buckeye commitment Kyle Kalis. After Tressel departed, Kalis pledged to remain with the Buckeyes, but instead made the switch to the arch-rival Michigan Wolverines. The Ohio native has been hampered by injury this year, but if he fully heals, he will be a fantastic prospect. 

Tyler is unsure of any changes to be made on the defensive side of the ball, because he isn't sure if Ohio State will land former Arizona Head Coach Mike Stoops to be its co-defensive coordinator. If Stoops does come aboard, Tyler expects Ohio State to emphasize speed a bit more, as Meyer did at Florida. 

And despite it not being a position of drastic need, Meyer is going hard after a few talented defensive ends. "You never pass on elite defensive linemen," says Tyler. 

Se'von Pittman was once a heavy Ohio State lean before Tressel left. He then committed to Michigan State. Tyler now expects the 6'4" Ohioan to be a Buckeye "before signing day."

Noah Spence is widely considered one of the top defensive ends in the country. Tyler anticipates Meyer making a run at the Pennsylvania native, though this would be a very difficult pull for the new Buckeye coach. If Spence visits Columbus, Tyler will take the Buckeye's chances more seriously. Update: Spence tweeted this afternoon that after speaking with Meyer, Ohio State is at the top of his list.

And while skeptical, Tyler also discussed Ohio State's chances with Dante Fowler, an attention-loving Florida State commitment. Tyler wasn't sure if Meyer had reached out to Fowler, or if Fowler was simply expressing interest in being contacted by Meyer in order to keep his name in the news. As with Spence, Tyler will take Ohio State's chances seriously if Fowler makes it up to Columbus for a visit.

Meyer also has to worry about keeping the gem of this class, running back Bri'onte Dunn, from flipping to Michigan. The 6'2", 215-pound Ohioan has made multiple visits to Michigan, including last weekend when, dressed in Wolverine garb, he saw Big Blue defeat the Buckeyes. Dunn has expressed some concerns about playing in the spread offense, and stated that he wanted to play in a pro-style, I-formation offense. Tyler isn't sure if this is a real desire by Dunn, or if it is just an excuse to decommit. Meyer apparently reached out to Dunn, and for now has prevented a switch to the Wolverines, but Tyler describes Dunn as "totally up for grabs."

There's also the issue of Meyer's recruiting in Florida. Tyler thinks it is significant, but is being overplayed by some in the media because Ohio State has always had a strong presence in the Sunshine State, and because there is plenty of talent in the Buckeye's backyard of Ohio and Pennsylvania. Meyer won't want to alienate the local coaches by passing on their players for some from thousands of miles away who are only marginally better, if at all. 

And speaking of alienating high school coaches and Florida, how should we expect Meyer to deal with the high school coaches he alienated in Florida? By cherry-picking, of course. Tyler acknowledges that some coaches had a bad taste in their mouths after the way Meyer told kids he was returning and then retired, but says Meyer will focus on the schools that are still friendly to him. Since Ohio State isn't a state school, he doesn't have to be on good terms with every coach in Florida.

Expect Ohio State to take between 20 to 22 players this cycle, and for the next class to be the class in which Meyer truly makes his mark, as the Buckeyes will likely have room for a full 25.

For more potential Ohio State commitments, visit Along The Olentangy

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