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Ohio State Should Sign More Ohioans, But Who?
By Tony Gerdeman
Does Ohio State have a problem with no need for a solution?
Photo by Jim Davidson

Urban Meyer knows the Buckeyes have an issue, but does anything even need to be done about it?

This past February, Ohio State signed just seven players in a recruiting class of 21 prospects, and currently OSU's 2018 class of 12 commitments features just two Ohioans.

Now, that number is going to go up, as the Buckeyes are after in-state prospects Jackson Carman, Tyreke Smith, and L'Christian Smith, each of whom are considered by many to be OSU leans.

After that, however, Ohio State may struggle to reach the seven Ohio signees that they managed in February.

Back on signing day, Meyer and OSU recruiting director Mark Pantoni both remarked that the number was too low.

"No, it's not (enough)," Meyer said in February. "No, 50 percent is kind of the mark that I've been trying to -- I keep it right in front of me and I stare at it and make sure that we're doing right."

"Not enough Ohio," Pantoni agreed. "That's something we want our percentage to be much higher on. There's too much talent in this state, but at the same time, we're also searching for the best players in the country. We always have to keep reminding ourselves Ohio kids are our first priority. They will be.

"Sometimes we probably over evaluate them because those are the kids we get to camp so many times, we know all about, versus a kid out of state. Trust me, we place so much emphasis on the state of Ohio and we're going to continue to and do our best to get the best players out of the state of Ohio."

Pantoni's last sentence is the most important, however. Yeah, Ohio State wants to sign more Ohioans, but the "best" in the state also has to coincide with being good enough for OSU.

There is no such thing as perfection in recruiting. There are always going to be players who are offered who say no, and there will be in-state players that OSU didn't offer that go on to do big things. But how often does that actually happen? My question to those who want to see Ohio State sign more Ohioans is, "Who?"

The 2017 class isn't even on the field yet, so to try and judge it now would be silly. What we can do, however, is look back on Ohio State's judgment under Urban Meyer and assume that it will carry forward in 2017 and 2018.

For instance, since 2012, how many Ohioans went on to make OSU regret their decision to not offer them?

In the 2013 class there was defensive end Taco Charlton, tight end Jake Butt, and quarterback Mitch Trubisky. All three were drafted this year.

Trubisky had an "offer" to come to Ohio State's camp and earn a committable offer, but he decided to commit to North Carolina instead. The Buckeyes had J.T. Barrett already committed and scholarship sanctions limited what Ohio State could do with their numbers.

Charlton went to the Dallas Cowboys with the No. 28 overall selection of the first round, so clearly he was a miss by the Buckeyes, right? Well, you also need to consider that Ohio State signed two defensive ends in the 2013 class in Joey Bosa and Tyquan Lewis, and they just happen to be the last three winners of the Big Ten's Defensive Lineman of the Year award.

Would you have given up Bosa or Lewis for Charlton?

Was Butt a miss? Absolutely, but like I said, you're never going to be perfect.

In 2014, there was quarterback Deshone Kizer. The Buckeyes had Barrett and Cardale Jones in the fold and they were putting all of their eggs in the Deshaun Watson basket. Kizer told me after camping at OSU prior to his junior season that he would be back as a rising senior to continue trying to earn an offer. He never returned, however, because Notre Dame swooped in. Ohio State swung and missed on Watson. They could afford to. It happens.

I'll let you go through the 2015 and 2016 classes on your own and see if you can find the Ohioans that the Buckeyes should have offered. I'm not sure I see any.

The thing you need to keep in mind, however, is that for every Ohioan you add, you have to take somebody off.

Should the Buckeyes have gone harder after Ohio running back De'Veon Smith in the 2013 class instead of focusing so much energy on Missouri's Ezekiel Elliott? Smith had an Ohio State offer, after all.

Smith had a nice career at Michigan. He rushed for over 2,200 yards. If OSU had wooed him harder maybe he could have been a Buckeye. Elliott would have ended up a Missouri Tiger, perhaps.

How do you think the Buckeyes would have done in 2014 with in-state running backs Bri'onte Dunn, Warren Ball, and De'Veon Smith leading the charge? I'm sure they would have been fine. Elliott was just a bit player in OSU's playoff run anyway, right?

Don't get me wrong, I think Ohio State should sign more Ohio players, but only if they're good enough to play. And if there is some long list of players from Ohio that OSU should have offered instead, let's see it.

Should they have gone with Tegray Scales out of Cincinnati instead of Raekwon McMillan? Darius West out of Lima instead of Vonn Bell? Avon's Ross Douglas instead of Eli Apple? Tommy Carnifax out of Warren instead of Nick Bosa? Youngstown's Darrin Hall instead of Mike Weber? Dayton's Messiah deWeaver instead of Dwayne Haskins? Dublin's Alex Gellerstedt instead of Michael Jordan?

Who? I'm listening.

I understand if there are Ohioans out there who long for the days of being represented by in-state Buckeyes like they were under Jim Tressel.

Who will ever forget "Holy Buckeye", after all. You know, the play where a running back from Florida picked up a blitz so that a quarterback from Michigan could throw deep on fourth-and-one to a wide receiver from Florida.

Yeah, those were the days.

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