Signing Day is a Game Changer for Meyer and Ohio State
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — What do you get for the man who has everything? Apparently whatever else he wants.
This time around, he wanted the nation's best recruiting class, and according to Scout, that's exactly what he got.
Urban Meyer's hyper focus on recruiting has once again paid off handsomely, as it has for most of his career. At this point, he can pretty much dive into his vault of blue chippers and take a swim, a la Scrooge McDuck.
What he and his staff pulled off on Wednesday is nothing short of an Ohio State miracle. Meyer and his staff finished so well this past week, getting decisions from Dontre Wilson, James Clark, Vonn Bell and Ezekiel Elliott, that losing a receiver like Taivon Jacobs to Maryland is somehow seen as beneficial to all parties.
That's not the Ohio State Signing Day that I know. The Ohio State Signing Day that I know ends up in frustrated tones, talking about the ones who got away, and not the ones who didn't.
But this was a game changer today, and you better get used to it. Meyer no longer has anything to prove to anybody, and if he retired tomorrow, he would be a Hall of Famer. He could rest comfortably on any one of his laurels, which are no doubt as comfortable as a bean bag the size of your entire living room.
But that's not who he is. If Urban Meyer is going to compete, then he's going to do it the only way he knows how – all out and on full blast. He brought that same mentality with him in pursuit of this 2013 recruiting class, and it obviously worked.
This class of signees was likely going to finish in the top five of every major recruiting service regardless of what happened today. That would have been just fine most years. After all, a top five finish in an inexact science could always end up being number one after history has its say.
However, some people like to leave no doubt, and Meyer is apparently one of those people.
Remember, it was a month ago when five-star receiver James Quick chose Louisville over Ohio State. It almost feels like a year ago now. In that time, Meyer and his staff (who deserves a large portion of the credit), landed three coveted playmakers in Wilson, Clark and Corey Smith.
Even when Urban Meyer strikes out, he still advances to first on a passed ball, ends up on third following a throwing error, and then steals home on the very next pitch.
After losing out on Quick, Ohio State contacted and offered James Clark about a week later. It only took two or three weeks of wooing to convince Clark to snub Florida, Miami (FL), Clemson and Tennessee, and come to Columbus.
And they did it in the dead of winter. This isn't making lemonade when life gives you lemons, this is real live alchemy.
A year ago offensive coordinator Tom Herman started his pursuit of the electric Dontre Wilson out of DeSoto, Texas. On Wednesday, that pursuit paid off when Wilson faxed in his signed National Letter of Intent.
Wilson originally chose Oregon over Ohio State, committing to the Ducks back in the spring. Meyer and Herman could have left it at that, and moved on. But they didn't, and now they are much happier for it.
Watching Meyer, Herman and Stan Drayton talk about what Wilson could bring to their offense was like watching a microwave oven salesman explaining to a housewife in 1984 how much better this machine would make her life.
"It can melt cheese in under 20 seconds."
"He can run a 10.4 in the 100 meters."
Who wouldn't want that?
In September of 2011, nearly four months before Urban Meyer was even hired by Ohio State, five-star safety Dymonte Thomas out of Alliance, Ohio, committed to Michigan. When Meyer was hired, he tried to sway Thomas back home, but the kid wasn't hearing it.
One of the best safeties in the nation, from Ohio State's own side yard, was headed to That School Up North. How would Meyer respond? Well, he went and signed somebody better, according to the scouts, anyway. Vonn Bell, rated the number two safety in America per Scout, might be the best consolation prize a coach has ever received.
Meyer credited Everett Withers for landing Bell, calling his efforts some of the best that he had ever seen, which is all that he asks from any of his assistants.
The final cap on the day's festivities was the re-commitment of running back Ezekiel Elliott, a player who had been committed to Ohio State for so long that he already felt like he was a part of the team.
Buckeye fans had been imagining Elliott in next year's offense for nearly a year, just like the coaches had been, I'm sure. To come so close to losing him stood as a reminder to everyone of just how important he was to this class. When he finally re-committed, there were equal parts excitement and relief.
To put it bluntly, the way Signing Day came together was simply massive for Ohio State. It cannot be overstated. There's a pretty good chance that you have never seen an Ohio State recruiting class close this strongly. I know that I haven't.
Through all of this excitment, we're only talking about 20% of this year's class. The other 80% is just as impressive.
Ohio State could always recruit, but it couldn't always close the way the other big boys did. With scholarship limits, Urban Meyer can't afford to be a poor closer, or else he is left even more undermanned. Every little bit helps, and the little bit that the Buckeyes landed on Signing Day will go a very, very long way.
We have been calling this recruiting class a homerun, and that homerun would have never happened had Meyer not swung for the fences.
And now he's going to swing even harder for the 2014 class.
What do you get for the man who has everything? You get out of his way, or you get run over.
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