His official title is Assistant Athletic Director, Player Personnel, but Mark Pantoni is better known as the recruiting director for the Ohio State football program. On Friday, Pantoni took part in a conference call with the assembled Ohio State football beat to answer questions on how operations have changed under quarantine and how the Buckeyes have been able to succeed despite the lack of visits this spring. There were a number of topics covered, the highlights of which are below.
+ Pantoni started off by thanking the first responders and medical professionals and essential workers out there. He also thanked the OSU athletic department for keeping everyone informed and safe.
+ The recruiting success last month was a product of the relationships that were built. They were expecting players to commit during visits, but with those canceled, the players decided to pull the trigger anyway.
+ There are way more FaceTime calls now. There is constant communication. It’s basically business as usual, but everyone has more free time on their hands.
+ Regarding the 2021 class, they’re not trying to win any recruiting wars in April. They will continue to work on commits as if they were not committed. There are still a few more positions they are working to fill.
+ The December signing day has allowed the entire month of January to be focused on the next signing class. That allowed them to get a leg up on the 2021 class. It allowed them to laser-focus on the guys they really wanted.
+ No spring evaluations is a concern for the 2021 and 2022 class. That’s a big checkmark in the evaluation process. “So we’ll really have to trust our evaluations on the film.”
+ The recruiting department has grown from just Mark and Greg Gillum in 2012, to know there’s several full-timers as well as a creative social media team.
+ It’s been difficult working from home. They Zoom every Monday morning and get everybody on the same page for the week.
+ Without the spring evaluation period, the coaches are now watching a lot of the 2022 players, which wouldn’t normally happen this early. Pantoni was talking to Coombs about it and Coombs said these 2022 kids aren’t that good and Pantoni had to remind him that they were 14 and 15 years old, so you’re not going to see a finished product.
+ Pantoni would like to see some restrictions or realism for offers. “I don’t know what the solution is,” but both schools and players are guilty of collecting or throwing out offers.
+ There were a lot of kids who had purchased flights to visit Ohio State, so that let OSU know that they were serious about Ohio State.
+ Evaluating quarterbacks is unique right now in 2022 because the lists have kids who didn’t play varsity. It’s a long process and they’ll comb through film. They’re not making full evaluations right now, just identifying guys.
+ The biggest thing in recruiting is relationships and building trust. They’re doing that right now. Guys are hungry. They are driven by that Clemson loss.
+ Urban Meyer would probably be handling things a bit differently than Ryan Day right now because they are different guys, but he’d still be working very hard with the situation at hand.
+ Current Buckeye players are struggling to find places to train and workout.
+ There was never a thought to leave OSU when Urban Meyer retired. “We kind of just knew it was gonna be as is and let’s just keep things rolling.”
+ Each commit has a different personality. The ones who say they want to help recruit, they will go out and do it. Not everybody is like that. Most of the 2021 class is gung ho about it. They have a group chat and they’re out recruiting and they’re doing a great job.
+ “We don’t pay a ton of attention to the rankings.” The Ohio and Midwestern kids are late developers at times, so they’re not concerned about the 2022 rankings not having many Ohioans.
+ What does he attribute the recruiting success right now to? There are a lot of different reasons because players choose OSU for different reasons. But as long as the staff keeps in contact with the players and explains all of the different things the University has to offer, eventually a player and family will find something they like.
+ Generally, they would be dealing with tons of visits right now with spring practice. Now he’s home working with the kids and balancing being a dad and working at the same time. There are more distractions now.
+ Asked about five Buckeye assistants being ranked among the top eight coaches in recruiting, Pantoni says they don’t talk about it because that’s the expectation. It all starts with Coach Day and everybody sees him and they are driven by each other to recruit. It’s never just one coach trying to recruit one guy. It’s usually two or three guys working on one recruit and it helps motivate them and keep the coaches on the same page.
+ It’s nice to win a recruiting rankings championship, but the evaluation doesn’t really get proven until year three.
+ Being over the 85 limit always works itself out. They are confident that will happen again this year even without spring ball.
+ Tony Alford is one of the best recruiters on staff and he always has been.
+ It’s never just one coach doing the recruiting of a player. There’s position coach, area coach, and coordinator. Pantoni can be involved there as well. They’ll all have their own opinions on the evaluation as well. And Ryan Day is there as well.
+ When the transfer portal first came out, he was checking it several times per day. Now he doesn’t check it as much and you’re more likely to find out via social media before you even look at the portal. They keep their eyes and ears open when it comes to positions of need.
+ The average ACT at Ohio State right now is a 29, so when they’re recruiting players they have to ask themselves if the recruit can handle that academic strain. So they have to drop players that they don’t think can make it or don’t have the grades. So they have to recruit the right kind of kids and that’s also strengthening the culture in the program.
+ They will spot a large group of players that they like and then they have to shrink it down. The transcripts help shrink it down. Absences and tardies will shrink it down as well.
+ Ryan Day has been great in helping the recruiting efforts because he’s not busy with football practice.