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Buckeyes Buckeye Archive Buckeye Leaves - Recruiting Update
Written by Dan Wismar

Dan Wismar

OSU Helmet2National signing day for 2012 football recruiting is just over a week away, and Urban Meyer is sprinting toward the Feb.1 finish line with a flurry of activity that has longtime observers of the recruiting game shaking their heads in amazement. In less than two months, Meyer has turned a so-so recruiting class into an elite group that ranks among the very best in the sport. And he’s not finished yet.

Meyer’s first recruiting projects at Ohio State were to get some key defensive line commitments solidified. Since then he has turned his attention to two other obvious areas of need on his Buckeye roster - depth on the offensive line, and speed and athleticism in the linebacker corps. With four new commitments in the last week, he is well on his way to addressing those needs. 

Here’s a quick look at the latest of Meyer’s Buckeye commitments:

Taylor Decker, an offensive tackle from Vandalia (OH) Butler, grew up a Buckeye fan, but despite the crying need for offensive tackles in Columbus, he was not recruited by the Bollman/Tressel regime, committing instead to Notre Dame. But when Meyer hired away the two Irish coaches most responsible for Decker’s recruitment...offensive line coach Ed Warinner and tight ends coach Tim Hinton...Decker had all the reason he needed to make the switch to Ohio State. At 6’8”, 288, he has excellent athleticism for a big man, and the frame to add weight as he matures. Decker is rated the nation’s #14 offensive tackle by Scout.

DavidPerkins2David Perkins, a 6’2”, 210 lb athlete from South Bend, Indiana, is being recruited as an outside linebacker for OSU. He excelled at running back in high school, and several schools were looking at him on offense, but Perkins was blown away by his recent visit to Columbus, and even though Ohio State got involved with him a bit late in the process, he spurned offers from LSU, Oregon and Cal as well as Big Ten competitors Michigan, MSU and Illinois, to become a Buckeye. Perkins (#5 at right) has posted a 36.5” in. vertical leap, and his speed off the edge is a commodity in short supply lately in the OSU linebacker group. He is a 4-star prospect by Scout, the #22 OLB in the nation.

Joey O’Connor, an offensive lineman from Windsor, Colorado is rated the #17 offensive guard by Scout. At 6’ 3.5”, 285, O’Connor could project at either guard or tackle, but OSU likes him as an inside guy. His film shows a lineman that plays through the whistle...with a bit of a nasty streak...what the scouts call a “high motor” guy. He was an early signee to Penn State, but decommitted shortly after the scandals broke there. He held offers from half a dozen PAC-12 schools, but in the end decided to come east and join the Bucks.


CamWilliams1Camren Williams, a 6’ 2”, 200 lb. outside linebacker from West Roxbury, Massachusetts, was the latest to sign on with Meyer’s Buckeyes. Williams was the second commitment in the Penn State class this year, and is yet another casualty of the Sandusky affair. He is rated the #16 outside linebacker in the country by Scout, and held offers from many ACC and Big East schools in addition to Michigan and Missouri. Williams (pictured) will join Perkins and the returning Ryan Shazier to give the Buckeyes an element of speed and pass-rushing capability in their linebackers that they have lacked in recent seasons.

No. 3 - With A Bullet

These four commitments are really Phase Two of Urban Meyer’s recruiting barrage. Within two weeks of being hired, Meyer had solidified the team’s defensive line by landing Harrisburg, PA defensive end Noah Spence, an elite talent in everybody’s top ten nationally, and a kid previously thought to be favoring Penn State.  

TommySchutt1A few days later he got defensive end Se’Von Pittman and defensive tackle Tommy Schutt (pictured) to flip to Ohio State from their previous commitments to Michigan State and Penn State respectively.  All three were ranked among the nation’s top 60 players in the final Scout evaluations, and when considered alongside the young defensive line talent returning for 2012, assure that this will be an area of strength for the Buckeyes well into the future.

All this activity has elevated the OSU class from outside the Top 20 when Meyer was hired in late November, to No. 3 in the current Scout team rankings, (leap-frogging Michigan with these latest commits), and also No. 3 on the Rivals list. Remember this is the year that was supposed to be the “down” year for recruiting, when the Buckeye program would pay the price for their season of turmoil and NCAA sanctions. The rest of the Big Ten coaches probably feel like Brady Hoke did when he was asked how he felt about the hire of Urban Meyer. “Not good” .

With a little over a week to go until signing day Feb.1, Meyer is expected to add as many as four or five additional recruits to the class. One of the key remaining 2012 targets is Davonte’ Neal, a speed merchant from Scottsdale, Arizona whose parents have some Akron ties, and who could conceivably make an early impact at receiver and kick returner. Another is Armani Reeves, a high school teammate of Cam Williams in Massachusetts, who projects as either a cornerback or wide receiver at the college level, and has long talked about attending the same school as Williams.

In addition, the Buckeyes have hopes of persuading Cleveland Heights offensive tackle Kyle Dodson to switch his commitment from Wisconsin to OSU, and several Big Ten schools including Ohio State are waiting for the decision of 5-star offensive tackle Jordan Diamond from Chicago. Visiting Columbus this weekend (1/21-1/22) are two more prospects that could wind up wearing the scarlet and gray. Safety Demetrious Cox from Jeannette, PA, and DE/LB Jamal Marcus from Durham, NC would both be welcome additions to Meyer’s first recruiting class. (In fact, I’m hearing Marcus had a great visit, and could be the next to jump on the Buckeye bandwagon.)

Leaving the Program

At the moment the class stands at 23 commits, and it could end up well over the original projection of a class of 20-21. This has been made possible by some attrition from the 2011 roster, as several underclassmen will not be returning to the team next season, for a variety of reasons.

Cornerbacks Dominic Clarke and DerJuan Gambrell have both been dismissed from the team by Meyer for running afoul of the law, and so far, three other players have decided to transfer. Backup quarterback Taylor Graham was granted a release from his scholarship a couple of weeks ago, and this past week safety Jeremy Cash announced his intention to transfer to Duke. It has also been reported this weekend that LB/FB David Durham is talking with other schools, including Pitt, and has made the decision to leave Ohio State.  Running back Jaamal Berry has also had legal troubles, and his return to the team is very much up in the air. And defensive end Melvin Fellows and linebacker Scott McVey are not expected to return as a result of career-ending injury situations. 

While Cash was a promising young safety, the only one of these seven departing Buckeyes to have made a significant contribution on the field was Clarke, who often outplayed the more highly-touted Travis Howard at cornerback this past season. His departure leaves the team thinner than they would like to be at corner, but starters Bradley Roby and Howard are returning, capably backed up by Akron’s Doran Grant, the 5-star recruit of a year ago. For Buckeye fans looking to the future, the seven or eight spots (and probably a couple more before it’s over) opened up through attrition represent opportunities for Meyer to recruit more quality players.

Meyer the Merciless

In the 1995 Gene Hackman flick “The Quick and the Dead”, dead gunslingers were stripped of their valuables and their clothes as they lay in the street after finishing second in a gunfight.  In much the same fashion, Urban Meyer is busy stripping the grievously wounded Penn State football program of its prized recruits. Meyer flipped a recruit that had been committed to Michigan State (Pittman), swiped another one from Notre Dame (Decker), stepped up to prevent one from bolting to Michigan (Brionte Dunn), and still hopes to grab one away from Wisconsin (Dodson). But those look like flesh wounds compared to what he has done to the Nittany Lions’ 2012 recruiting class.

The top-rated recruit in the OSU class, Noah Spence wasn’t committed to PSU, but many experts thought the Harrisburg native was leaning that way, and Ohio State wasn’t even on his radar until November 28th. The big blow came a few weeks later when 5-star defensive tackle Tommy Schutt was lured away from the Lions by Meyer and OSU. Joey O’Connor decommitted from PSU shortly after the Sandusky story broke in State College, and now he too has joined the Buckeye fold. Now this week, linebacker Camren Williams changed his mind as well, and his buddy Armani Reeves is expected by many to follow Williams to Columbus.

I have no idea how many kids the Lions are losing to other programs, but let’s just assume the Penn State “Welcome to the Big Ten, Urban Meyer” party will be postponed indefinitely.

JalinMarshall1Jump Start

Meyer got a head start on the class of 2013 this week when Trotwood Madison cornerback Cameron Burrows gave a verbal commitment to play for the Buckeyes on Thursday. Burrows is one of the top players in the Midwest for 2013, probably the second-rated player in the state of Ohio, right behind 5-star Middletown athlete Jalin Marshall. Marshall (pictured) is planning to announce his college destination on Jan 31. Not to worry. He’s all Buckeye.

If you're confused about how the numbers are going to work out for the Ohio State roster...what with the loss of scholarships under NCAA sanctions, and the larger than expected recruit numbers this year...the defections, early enrollees, etc, check out Tim May's article in Sunday's Dispatch, which does a great job of explaining the variables. 


2012 Ohio State Recruiting Class


OSURotundaLoose Leaves

Meyer almost has his coaching staff in place now, with the additions of the aforementioned Ed Warinner and Tim Hinton from the Notre Dame staff. It looked like it was all set before safeties coach Taver Johnson announced last week that he would leave OSU to join his friend and colleague Paul Haynes, who left Ohio State after the 2011 season to become the defensive coordinator at Arkansas. Johnson will coach DB’s for the Razorbacks under Haynes, and Meyer will make an addition to his defensive staff soon.


New OSU Offensive Coordinator Tom Herman gave an interview to ESPN’s Brian Bennett this week, in which he gives some insights into the way he and Urban Meyer will run the Buckeyes’ offense in 2012.


We don’t pay much attention to the non-revenue sports here in the Leaves, but the revival of the OSU wrestling program in recent years under Tom Ryan is worth noting. The Big Ten dominates college wrestling, usually placing at least five teams in the nation’s top ten, and for decades, Iowa has been the dominant program in the sport, with 23 national championships since 1975. So congratulations are in order this week for Ryan and his No. 7-ranked Buckeye grapplers, who beat No. 2 Iowa in a dual meet for the first time since 1966. You read that right...1966.


Circle April 21st on the calendar. That’s your first opportunity to see the 2012 Ohio State Buckeyes. The annual Spring Game will commence at 1:30 p.m. that afternoon at Ohio Stadium. There are two sports seasons in Columbus they say...Football...and Spring Football. It’s just 90 days away.


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