New Buckeye Assistants Like Urban Meyer's Recruiting Style
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — On the day that Urban Meyer was hired, he spoke to the media about his desire to lure assistant coaches who would "coach like their hair's on fire". Knowing how important recruiting is to Meyer, the inference was that they would also need to recruit like their hair is on fire.
This past offseason, Meyer had to go out and again find some new assistant coaches who were equally as flammable. His requirements didn't change, in fact they probably became even more incendiary. In other words, those who aren't as skilled and drawn to recruiting as Meyer need not apply.
He eventually reached out and hired Larry Johnson and Chris Ash, both of whom fit the profile that Meyer was looking for. Ash is a younger assistant with a mind for defensive innovation. He's also always on the look out for players to bring his ideas to life.
Photo by Jim Davidson
When he was contacted about the Ohio State job, Ash knew that he would fit right in with Meyer's tireless efforts on the recruiting trail.
"Coach Meyer's got a reputation of being a relentless recruiter," he said.
"When he finds somebody that he likes, that he thinks can come in and help his program win at a high level, he's gonna do everything he can to try to get them, within NCAA rules obviously. He's a relentless recruiter. He does a great job of building relationships with people.
"He does a great job of trying to identify what the players want and selling what his program can give to that player. My philosophies are no different. I'm very intrigued to watch how he does it and how it works here at Ohio State."
Given their similar idealogies, Ash should fit right in, which is one of the reasons why Meyer hired him in the first place.
Where Larry Johnson is concerned, however, the Urban Meyer style of recruiting was a new experience for him. A long-time assistant coach, there have been few assistants over the last decade who are as renowned for their recruiting as Johnson.
It's no coincidence then that as soon as he was hired he hit the road recruiting. Soon after, he had his first in-home visit tagging along with Meyer.
"He's really a great recruiter, he really is," Johnson said of his new head coach.
Photo by Jim Davidson
"He crosses all the T’s, man. He is a really great recruiter. My first in-home with him was awesome. It really was. You watch that guy go to work, man, and he's got it all going on. I was like, 'Wow, this guy is serious about these things.' But he's a great recruiter, he covers all of his bases, he knows the family, knows the kids. That's pretty awesome what he does, he gets that involved."
Meyer is leading by example in that way, and it's not that much different than what Johnson himself has done for years. In fact, he sees himself as a great fit for what Ohio State and Meyer are looking for.
"Recruiting is recruiting, you're just doing it for a different school," Johnson said of his new university.
"The product that we sold at Penn State is the same product here. Great students, student athletes, quality of players and quality of people.
"I think it's very natural. It's not a used car salesman approach. It's really an honest and sincere approach to recruiting. [Meyer] wants to make sure it's a fit for us and a fit for them. I think that is awesome that he has that kind of mannerism to go into a home and say, 'Here's who we are and here's what we can do for your son, and how we'll get him a great education.' He sells the value of this great university. I think it's awesome."
The selling at Ohio State is a relatively easy business. So much of the University and the opportunity provided sells itself. Which is why with the proper salesmen, things can become even more productive.
When Urban Meyer went out looking for two new coaches, he had certain needs that had to be met. When Chris Ash and Larry Johnson were looking at Ohio State, they had needs as well. As it turned out, the philosophy of all three of them was a perfect match.
Now that everybody is here and happy, all that's left to do is to strike that match and set some more hair on fire.
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