Recruiting Rundown — So Who's Out There?
By Tony Gerdeman
If the early reports from the various outlets are any indication, the Buckeyes are targeting defensive ends, offensive tackles and wide receivers to close out this class. That should give you an idea of where the staff feels they are currently weak and where Meyer could certainly make them stronger.
Meyer also mentioned during his introductory press conference that Luke Fickell told him there is a need at linebacker. As such, the Buckeyes are also looking at a couple of spots there, and some of the rush ends could also play linebacker given the types of athletes being targeted.
We can set the number of available spots at seven for right now and feel pretty confident about that number. It can shift either way, but it at least gives us a baseline. The bulk of that number—or if all goes well—the full extent of it will come from the following four positions.
First, we will take a look at the offensive side of the ball.
Despite already having four receivers committed, Meyer wasted no time in contacting Baltimore receiver Cyrus Jones (5-11 183, 4.49), whom Scout calls a five-star prospect. Ohio State was recruiting Jones prior to Meyer's arrival, but they failed to make his top five list.
That all changed when Meyer was named the Buckeye head coach.
“Urban Meyer is a great, great coach,” Jones told the Baltimore Sun late last week. “He had a great reputation from Florida and also coach Fickell, who was the interim coach, he’s still going to be on the coaching staff, so that’s why I wanted to keep him around because me and him had a great relationship previously with him being my recruiter for this area.”
Jones initially wanted to make his decision by the end of the December, but now that Ohio State is once again in his picture, he may have to push his decision back a bit.
Jones isn't the only east coast receiver the Buckeyes are going after, however. There is also Virginia's Joel Caleb (6-2 201, 4.71), whom Rivals ranks as the top player in the state. Per Rivals, he visited Ohio State over the weekend, and by all accounts, the visit could not have gone better. He will visit Virginia Tech next weekend. Caleb was scheduled to visit the Buckeyes this past weekend even before Meyer was named head coach, so there appears to be a deeper interest for Caleb than just Meyer, which can only be good news.
The jewel in the bunch, however, might be Maryland's Stefon Diggs (6-0 185, 4.43), whom Rivals ranks a five-star prospect, and the second-ranked receiver overall. Meyer spoke to Diggs recently and all of a sudden he is now interested in Ohio State, and the Washington Post indicates that a visit could happen as soon as this weekend.
One thing to keep in mind is that Diggs goes to the same high school as Gator linebacker Jelani Jenkins, whom Meyer landed in his 2009 class. Jenkins' family and Diggs' family are close, and after last week's loss to Florida State, Jenkins offered a “No comment” when asked how he felt about Meyer coaching at Ohio State. In other words, there could be some ill will from the family that needs to be massaged.
In the last day or so, there was a bit of a fire rekindled with Arizona receiver Davonte Neal (5-10 175, 4.41), as various outlets are reporting that Ohio State will soon be swinging by to see him. Neal's family is originally from Ohio, and he has been on the Buckeyes' radar since he was a freshman.
As an eighth-grader, Neal was timed at 10.95 seconds in the 100 meters, and also ran the fastest 200 meters in the country for his age group. Given the offers from around the country, it would appear that his speed has not left him. ESPN ranks him the 29th-best player overall in the 2012 class, and he was recently named the Gatorade Arizona Football Player of the Year for the second consecutive year.
Neal caught 62 passes for 1,113 yards and 14 touchdowns and carried the ball 100 times for another 1,317 yards and six touchdowns this season. He also returned three kickoffs and two punts for touchdowns. He is also Scout's sixth-rated cornerback prospect.
There is also first-team All-State receiver Monty Madaris (6-2 190) from Cincinnati Moeller, who just might be the top receiver in Ohio. His coach John Rodenberg told the Cincinnati Enquirer that Ohio State is in the mix, though according to Madaris, the Buckeyes have yet to offer him. Madaris and the Buckeyes are talking, but it may a little while longer before an offer comes. Madaris already has offers from Florida State, Michigan, Nebraska and Michigan State.
Ohio State is likely only looking to land one of the four receivers above that they have offered, and Caleb sounds like the most probable to commit. But Jones, Diggs and Neal aren't exactly the type of playmakers that schools say 'No' to. If one of them also wanted to be Buckeyes, room would be found.
The Buckeyes currently have two offensive linemen committed, and even though Jacoby Boren (6-3 275) played right tackle for his state runner-up Pickerington Central team, he will be a guard in college, just like fellow commitment Patrick Elflein (6-3 285). With the Buckeyes losing two senior offensive tackles, and having Andrew Norwell as the only legitimate tackle on the offensive line returning, Meyer is also scouring the country for top level tackles.
At the top of the wish list is Jordan Diamond (6-6 289), out of Chicago Simeon. Scout lists him as the ninth-ranked tackle in the country and a five-star prospect. He has been in contact with Ohio State for a while, but has been viewed as a bit of a reach to end up in Columbus. Things appear to be changing for the better now that Meyer is talking to him. There is momentum here that is worth paying attention to.
Everybody in the country has offered him, but Ohio State will receive his first official visit this coming weekend. The Buckeyes get the advantage with the first visit, but this one should still go down to the wire as he plans on deciding on Signing Day. Rest assured, however, that room will be made available to him until the bitter end.
Back in June, the Buckeyes offered a scholarship to Cleveland Heights offensive tackle Kyle Dodson (6-6 310), which was thought to be the offer he was waiting for. Shortly thereafter, however, he went ahead and committed to Wisconsin. Dodson, a four-star prospect per Rivals, has reportedly not yet been contacted by Meyer, which continues a puzzling recruitment for the highly sought after Ohioan.
I was told back in July that if Ohio State wasn't hit with serious sanctions and if “they worked for it”, that Dodson could be back in play for the Buckeyes. I then tweeted this information, which forced others to call Dodson so that he could refute my information and reaffirm his commitment to Wisconsin, which he did. I was told the same thing this past October, but I kept it to myself so as to save Dodson a few cellphone minutes. It would seem that he would be willing to listen, but first somebody would need to call him.
Two others to keep an eye on are Colorado's Alex Kozan (6-5 295), ranked a four-star prospect by Rivals, and Nick Davidson (6-7 270), also ranked a four-star by both Rivals and Scout.
Many project Kozan as a guard, though I've been told by more than one person that he's got the size and mobility to play right tackle. The Buckeyes don't need anymore guards, so it remains to be seen if Kozan will continue to be targeted by Meyer.
Davidson, from Minnesota, is the son of former Buckeye offensive lineman Jeff Davidson, who is currently the offensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings. Jeff Davidson himself was a second-generation Buckeye, and part of the first father-son duo to be named captains in school history.
The youngest Davidson suffered a broken leg this season, however, so his status with the new Buckeye staff is a bit up in the air at the moment. Both Kozan and Davidson were given the “slow play” from the previous administration, so any work that the new staff does will be mostly of the catch up variety. Both have been very willing to listen to what the Buckeyes had to say previously, however, and likely will be again.
There will probably be a few more candidates who pop up over the next few weeks as the staff gets a feel for whom they want and are likely to get. Because of the late start, the Ohio State staff has also been in contact with several committed prospects, such as Taylor Decker, Kyle Kalis, D.J. Humphries, and Evan Goodman, though all four have said that they are not going to waver on their commitments.
Clearly it didn't take Meyer long to figure out that the Buckeyes needed offensive tackles, but it might take him another recruiting class or two before the situation is remedied.
Still, the staff has to feel pretty good about where they stand with Jordan Diamond. They would probably like to add two tackles in this class, but won't sacrifice another position of want in order to reach on a prospect here.
Up Next – Who's Out There on Defense?
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