One More for the Road Graders—Buckeyes Land Another Offensive Lineman
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio - On Tuesday, just two days after gaining a commitment from Vandalia Butler offensive tackle Taylor Decker, Urban Meyer landed another offensive lineman in Windsor, Colorado's Joey O'Connor.
O'Connor (6-4 295), a four-star prospect, and the nation's 15th-ranked tackle according to Rivals, committed to Penn State back in June, but backed out of that commitment when the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke.
O'Connor brings the total number of offensive linemen in this class to four with the possibility of one or two more before, or slightly after, Signing Day.
If the Buckeyes happen to land another lineman, pushing their total to five, it would be more offensive linemen in one class than Jim Tressel ever landed. He brought in four a few times, but never went beyond that number.
While offensive line coach Ed Warinner is a fan of versatility in his linemen like both Tressel and Jim Bollman were, clearly Meyer and his staff would feel more comfortable right now with an increase in numbers, regardless of how Warinner tries to couch it.
"We're gonna coach who we have," he said last week.
"The guys who are here are the guys that are here. We're going to be in on as many talented players as we can in this freshman class. How much can they contribute, we hope that they can contribute some. But we're going to work with the guys that we have.
"Ohio State has good football players. They bring good football players here. They don't recruit guys who aren't good players, so my job is to find out who can help us. You don't need twelve starters, you need five starters and you need a good backup tackle, a good backup guard and a backup center, and there you go. So we gotta find eight guys that can help us win.”
While most view O'Connor as a redshirt, it's clear that if he can play, then they'll find a spot for him.
O'Connor was an Under Armour All-American and projects as an interior lineman at Ohio State. Even though he played left tackle in high school, moving inside should prove easy for him. He played guard in the Under Armour game and looked very comfortable.
He chose Ohio State over the likes of Penn State, Michigan, South Carolina, Iowa and Boise State. He was also an All-Colorado selection, as well as the Class 3A Player of the Year in 2011.
He took his official visit to Ohio State this past weekend, and generally the official visit is when players decide where they want to spend the next four years of their lives. O'Connor, however, seems to have known where he wanted to go before he had ever even stepped foot on Ohio State's campus and, amazingly, before Urban Meyer had either.
O'Connor's head coach Chris Jones relayed a conversation that he had with O'Connor to 9NEWS in Colorado on Tuesday detailing this prescience.
"One day I said, 'If somebody calls, who is the one person that would call and make you say 'Wow I want to go there', who would it be? And he said 'Urban Meyer.'
Three days after he was hired, Meyer made that call. While the bulk of O'Connor's recruitment was done without an official offer extended to him from Ohio State, that changed during his visit. Once the Buckeyes offered, it was only a matter of time before his commitment followed.
"He had a really great Sunday with those people and they really showed their true personalities to him and he said he felt really good about this," Jones said.
"I love what Coach Meyer stands for," O'Connor explained to the Denver Post.
"He wants to win a national championship, and he's going to do everything in his power to do it. At the end of the day, the team and the players mean more to him than the national championship does, which is awesome.
"Everybody's going to buy into that, and we're definitely going to win a national championship."
Scout: 3-star OG; 17th-ranked OG; Not ranked in top 300 prospects overall.
Rivals: 4-star OT; 15th-ranked OT; 102nd-ranked prospect overall.
ESPN: 4-star OT; 15th-ranked OT; 105th-ranked prospect overall.
247 Sports: 3-star OG; 20th-ranked OG; Not ranked in top 247 prospects overall.
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