Recruiting Rundown - Where Things Stand

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Last updated: 12/05/2011 2:58 AM
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Football Recruiting
Recruiting Rundown — Where Things Currently Stand
By Tony Gerdeman

The story of Ohio State's 2012 recruiting class has taken many turns since they received their first commitment from Olentangy linebacker Joshua Perry back in June of 2010. The most notable of which was the commitment of coveted offensive tackle Kyle Kalis in September of 2010, followed by his de-commitment and immediate re-commitment this past June, and then his ultimate de-commitment and commitment to Michigan in July.

It was indicative of the tumultuous last twelve months that the Buckeye football program had been through. Not only did the actions of players and their head coach cost Ohio State the entire 2010 football season, but now it had also cost them blue-chip prospects who wanted to be Buckeyes.

Not everybody waffled, however, as Ohio State continued to receive verbal commitments from players who wanted to be Buckeyes regardless of any possible future sanctions.

When a school is dealing with NCAA issues, it's often those players who committed during the darkest hour who lead the school through to the eye-squinting brightness of daylight.

While this class is not as highly-rated as many in the past, the desire to represent Ohio State through all measures of success is through the roof.

Ohio State currently has 16 verbal commitments, and with less than two months until Signing Day, the best recruiter in the nation has just been called out of the bullpen to close out the 2012 class, and Mariano Rivera ain't got nothing on Urban Meyer.

In The Fold

Here is the current class as it stands at the moment, and where they are ranked by the various recruiting services.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are We Dunn Yet?

It would appear that the commitments prior to Meyer's arrival will be honored by the new head coach, but there might be some players who feel that that they don't fit under the new direction and choose to head elsewhere. Right now, tailback Bri'onte Dunn is at the head of that list.

Even though he's been committed to Ohio State for over a year, he's been a question mark since June. He will end up choosing between Ohio State and Michigan, but rest assured that Meyer is working him hard. He made contact with him soon after his hiring, which was well-received by Dunn from all accounts. A face-to-face meeting will be the next step, and to continue the analogy of Meyer as a closer, the face-to-face is his slider with an 0-2 count.

Dunn's concern is that Meyer's system doesn't lend itself to a power running game that would better suit him, and it's often been said about him that he “doesn't want to play in a spread offense”. It will be up to Meyer to convince him that there will always be downhill running in Columbus, and he will have to show him that even though some of the plays look different, the principles are still the same.

Since late June when I was told that Dunn's de-commitment was an inevitability, I have been waiting for him to make the leap north. But now with Meyer on the prowl, this is the first time in months that I've actually felt a tinge of confidence that he may end up in the Scarlet and Gray.

How Much Room?

By my count, Ohio State played with 79 of a possible 85 scholarship players this year (not counting the handful of senior walk-ons who were also given scholarships), and they are losing thirteen seniors, which leaves them with 66 returning scholarship players for 2012.

There will likely also be one or two medical hardships next season, as well as the standard attrition of transfers that happens every season. Those transfers also tend to get heavy with coaching changes, so there might even be more than the norm over the next six or seven months. It is unlikely that anybody would leave early for the NFL, but stranger things have happened.

If we go with a conservative estimate of four players leaving through attrition and/or medical hardship, that leaves Ohio State with 23 spots to fill. However, there is also the small matter of the self-imposed scholarship sanctions that Ohio State is dealing with. They have penalized themselves five scholarships total over the next three seasons. How that reduction is broken down is at Ohio State's discretion, provided the NCAA agrees with it and doesn't hand down a stipulation of their own.

If the NCAA doesn't hand down any additional penalties or stipulations, I would be surprised if Ohio State penalized themselves anymore than one scholarship this season, unless the Urban Meyer express cools down and recruits can somehow snap out of his kevorka.

If we go with the 23 number, which is a conservative number, that leaves room for seven more commitments over the next eight weeks or so. Meyer is currently contacting the best players in the nation, and they are showing interest where there was none previously.

If Meyer is landing commits from these types of players, then Ohio State will minimize their self-imposed sanctions as much as possible this season. Much of it will likely be too little too late for most players, but expect Meyer to land at least one or two big fish out of the deep blue.

Is Oversigning a Possibility?

Though Meyer comes from the SEC, which is the Land of Oversigning, he was never much of a practitioner of it himself, so there would be a certain irony if he were to have to come to the Big Ten to start.

The Big Ten allows for the oversigning of three scholarships, but such oversigning must come with an explanation to the conference as to why it is needed. Which means that if Ohio State did oversign in this class, they would actually know where the extra spots were coming from in February, as opposed to August when the coaches in the SEC “find out”.

So what happens if blue chipper after blue chipper starts verbally committing to Ohio State and Meyer finally runs out of room for them all? He'll do what he always had to do in the past—simply close the front door, turn off the porch light, and call it a night.

I really don't expect to see any oversigning on Ohio State's part because they will already know the outcome of most of their attrition. Even if they start approaching a class of 24 or 25, which I think is very possible if the right kids commit, these spots will have already been vacated through transfers or dismissals.

Anything that happens beyond Signing Day that leaves them short of the 85 number can then be written off as their self-imposed scholarship reduction. In theory, the Buckeyes don't even have to worry about their scholarship sanctions while recruiting this year unless the NCAA says they have to, and even if the NCAA limits them to 23 or 24 allowable offers in the 2012 class, they can back date the early enrollees to the 2011 class if need be.

If you really want to get outrageous, there is probably room for ten more commits in this class with back dating and attrition. However, don't expect Meyer and his staff to go in this direction if for no other reason than the size of next year's class, which will start out at fourteen just like this class did.

Right now 2013 is looking like a very good year in state, and with Meyer on the prowl, it will be a very good year around the nation. Every Letter of Intent signed in this class takes away one from next year's class, which right now will be on the small side. Meyer may choose to take advantage of a full year of recruiting by shelving a few available scholarships this year in favor of using them next year.

Meyer is contacting the best of the best from around the nation right now, and if he can't land the absolute best players in this class, don't be surprised if he chooses not to settle, and instead waits until next year.

Needs will be met as best as they can be with the remainder of this class, but it will not consist of filler that weighs down future teams.

These next two months are likely to be unlike anything Buckeye fans have ever witnessed—yet exactly like everything they've ever wanted to see.

Up Next: Recruiting Rundown — Where Things Are Going

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