Recruiting Rundown

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Last updated: 01/16/2012 2:28 PM
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Football
Recruiting Rundown — Closing Strong With a Stacked Deck
By Tony Gerdeman

News began to break on Sunday night regarding Urban Meyer's latest recruiting victory—securing a verbal commitment from Vandalia, Ohio, offensive tackle Taylor Decker (6-8 313).

The news, which was broken by Scout.com's Dave Berk, had to be hard to take for Notre Dame given that the four-star prospect, and Scout's 14th-ranked offensive tackle, had been committed to them since March.

The Jim Tressel regime never showed much interest in Decker, likely hoping he would come to a summer camp so that they could get a better look at him. Instead, Decker went with the Irish and never looked back.

Then Urban Meyer was hired—and Decker looked back.

Meyer contacted Decker's camp immediately to check his interest level. It was certainly piqued, but Notre Dame was still the place for him.

The prior lack of communication between Ohio State and Decker puzzled more than a few people.

"It wasn’t like Ohio State didn’t know that (Decker) was here," Vandalia Butler high school coach Greg Bush told the Dayton Daily News a month ago. "We didn’t keep it a secret."

"I’ve had as much contact (with OSU) since Urban took the job as before (his hiring). You can read whatever you want into that."

Then about two weeks later, Urban Meyer hired Tim Hinton and Ed Warinner from Notre Dame. They just happened to be the two coaches that Decker was closest with.

Decker flinched, but remained committed to the Irish.

"I mean, at first I thought the world was ending, because they were gone," Decker said in a text to the South Bend Tribune two days after the hiring.

"They were important, but I picked Notre Dame for Notre Dame. Don't get me wrong, the coaches are great, but after thinking it through I also chose ND for ND."

But Meyer didn't quit, and neither did Hinton or Warinner.

They finally extended Decker a scholarship offer and he scheduled an official visit this past weekend. As has been the case under Meyer, the visit appears to have gone exceedingly well.

"I have committed to OSU," was the text that he sent to South Bend Tribune last night.

The commitment is the 20th for the Buckeyes, who are beginning to look like they could sign a full class of 25 this season.

Positions of Need

As we've mentioned here in the past, the two largest needs in this class are linebackers and offensive line, so let's take stock of where things currently stand.

Taylor Decker's commitment gives Ohio State three offensive linemen in this class, but it looks like another one will be added shortly.

Windsor, Colorado lineman Joey O'Connor (6-4 295) visited Ohio State this weekend and was finally extended a scholarship offer. Rivals rates him as a four-star prospect and the 15th-best tackle in the class, though O'Connor has been told by Ohio State that they view him as a guard or a center.

While O'Connor, a former Penn State commit, did not issue a verbal commitment to Urban Meyer, it would not be a surprise to see it happen at some point this week.

The Buckeyes would like to land another tackle in this class, and possibly two if it's the right two.

The two that fit this description are Cleveland's Kyle Dodson (6-6 315) and Chicago's Jordan Diamond (6-6 289). Dodson visited USC this past weekend, and Diamond was in Ann Arbor.

Both recruitments will go down to the wire, and with Diamond, possibly past it. If the Buckeyes can get one of them and finish with five linemen in this class, they'll be thrilled.

Like with the offensive line, Ohio State would like to land two more linebackers. First among them is Camren Williams (6-2 215), a current Penn State commit out of West Roxbury, Massachusetts.

The four-star prospect will be visiting Ohio State unofficially this week, so don't be surprised if he finally pulls the trigger and makes the switch to the Buckeyes.

David Perkins (6-2 225), a four-star athlete out of South Bend, Indiana visited Ohio State this past weekend. The Buckeyes are looking at him as a linebacker, though he has a strong desire to play running back at the next level.

He still has visits to Oregon, Illinois and California scheduled. He has already visited Ohio State and Missouri, and by all accounts loved both visits. He plans to announce at the end of January per ESPN.

Jamal Marcus (6-2 230), out of Durham, North Carolina, will be visiting Ohio State this upcoming weekend per Rivals.com. He visited East Carolina this past weekend.

He tweeted yesterday that he has an idea of where he's going to go, so Urban Meyer might be fighting an uphill battle next weekend.

Another linebacker to keep an eye on is Dalton Santos (6-2 245) out of Texas, who is currently committed to Tennessee but still looking around.

He is still working out a visit to Ohio State, and depending on how the visits go this week with Camren Williams and Jamal Marcus, that visit may never actually materialize.

But Wait, There's More

Davonte Neal (5-10 175), the speedy athlete out of Scottsdale, Arizona, also visited Ohio State this past weekend.

"This is like a homecoming for me," Neal told ESPN.com prior to his visit.

"I’m from Ohio and grew up a Buckeye fan. I was a ball boy for a couple of games when I was a little, so I’m really excited to get to Columbus and check out the school."

Neal displayed his versatility the week of the Under Armour All-American Game, being chosen to play in the game as a cornerback, then switching to receiver due to injury.

Urban Meyer would likely use Neal's speed on offense, but with the recent defections in the secondary, his versatility becomes an even greater asset.

He still has Arkansas scheduled for this coming weekend, and is sorting out his final two visits.

Watch the Sharp Corners

As mentioned above, Camren Williams is visiting Ohio State again this weekend, but he won't be doing it alone. He will be tagging along with high school teammate Armani Reeves (5-9 185), whom Scout ranks as the sixth-best cornerback in the nation.

Reeves committed to Penn State back in August, but is obviously now reconsidering that commitment. Given how close he and Williams are, it would not be a surprise to see both of them in this class when it's all said and done.

Expect both to get Urban Meyer's "A-game" the moment they hit town.

Reeves isn't the only possibility at cornerback, however, as De'Vante Harris (5-11 160) has scheduled a visit to Ohio State for January 27th. He is Rivals' 11th-ranked cornerback in the 2012 class.

Harris, who recently decommitted from Oklahoma, tweeted last week that his top three were, in no particular order, TCU, Texas A&M and Ohio State.

He took his visit to A&M this past weekend and has TCU scheduled for next weekend. The Buckeyes get the last shot at the Under Armour All-American, though it's likely a long one.

We Hardly Knew Ye

The recent loss of three members of last year's secondary is certainly a blow to the Buckeyes, but there might soon be another member of that club before he was ever even indoctrinated.

Devan Bogard (5-11 172), a safety out of Glenville who has been committed since late June, took a visit out to USC this past weekend.

USC plucked a Glenville kid a year ago in offensive linemen Aundrey Walker, and appear to be trying to do it again.

Bogard came back still committed to the Buckeyes, but visiting USC in January and getting to meet the actor who played Juwanna Mann is a lot to contend with. Stay tuned.

The Class As It Stands Now

1. Cardale Jones (6-5 217) QB, Fork Union Military Academy
(ESPN: 3-star; Scout: 3-star; Rivals: 3-star; 247: 4-star)

2. Warren Ball (6-2 200) RB, St. Francis DeSales
(ESPN: 3-star; Scout: 4-star; Rivals: 4-star; 247: 4-star)

3. Bri'onte Dunn (6-2 215) RB, Canton GlenOak
(ESPN: 4-star; Scout: 5-star; Rivals: 4-star; 247: 4-star)

4. Roger Lewis (6-1 195) WR, Pickerington Central
(ESPN: 3-star; Scout: 3-star; Rivals: 3-star; 247: 3-star)

5. Ricquan Southward (6-2 190) WR, Lakeland (FL)
(ESPN: 4-star; Scout: 2-star; Rivals: 3-star; 247: 3-star)

6. Mike Thomas (6-4 203) WR, Fork Union Military Academy
(ESPN: 3-star; Scout: 4-star; Rivals: 4-star; 247: 3-star)

7. Frank Epitropoulos (6-3 195) WR, Upper Arlington
(ESPN: 3-star; Scout: 3-star; Rivals: 3-star; 247: 3-star)

8. Blake Thomas (6-4 240) TE, Cleveland St. Ignatius
(ESPN: 3-star; Scout: 3-star; Rivals: 3-star; 247: 3-star)

9. Jacoby Boren (6-3 273) OL, Pickerington Central
(ESPN: 3-star; Scout: 3-star; Rivals: 3-star; 247: 3-star)

10. Patrick Elflein (6-3 285) OL, Pickerington North
(ESPN: 4-star; Scout: 3-star; Rivals: 3-star; 247: 3-star)

11. Taylor Decker (6-8 313) OT, Vandalia Butler
(ESPN: 3-star; Scout: 4-star; Rivals: 4-star; 247: 4-star)

12. Adolphus Washington (6-4 230) DE, Cincinnati Taft
(ESPN: 4-star; Scout: 5-star; Rivals: 4-star; 247: 5-star)

13. Se'Von Pittman (6-5 245) DE, Canton McKinley
(ESPN: 4-star; Scout: 4-star; Rivals: 4-star; 247: 4-star)

14. Noah Spence (6-4 245) DE, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
(ESPN: 5-star; Scout: 5-star; Rivals: 5-star; 247: 5-star)

15. Tommy Schutt
(6-3 301) DT, Glen Ellyn, IL
(ESPN: 4-star; Scout: 5-star; Rivals: 4-star; 247: 4-star)

16. Joshua Perry (6-4 228) OLB, Olentangy
(ESPN: 4-star; Scout: 4-star; Rivals: 4-star; 247: 4-star)

17. Luke Roberts (6-2 230) LB, Lancaster
(ESPN: 3-star; Scout: 3-star; Rivals: 3-star; 247: 3-star)

18. De'van Bogard (6-1 175) DB, Glenville
(ESPN: 3-star; Scout: 4-star; Rivals: 4-star; 247: 4-star)

19. Najee Murray (5-11 172) DB, Steubenville
(ESPN: 3-star; Scout: 4-star; Rivals: 3-star; 247: 3-star)

20. Tyvis Powell (6-4 185) DB, Bedford
(ESPN: 2-star; Scout: 4-star; Rivals: 3-star; 247: 3-star)

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