Meyer Calls Class of 2014 a Win
By Rob Ogden
Ohio State hasn't won on the field since November, but coach Urban Meyer counted Wednesday as a victory.
"I think we won today," the third-year Ohio State coach said as announced 23 signings on National Signing Day. "I made it clear to our guys, very pleased with their efforts today. That was a good class."
It's a class that includes five offensive linemen, four linebackers, four defensive backs, four receivers, three defensive linemen, one running back, one quarterback and one kicker.
It contains 11 players ranked among ESPN's top 200 recruits.
Meyer wore a smile as he read off the names. Asked if it was his best class during his tenure at Ohio State, Meyer didn't hesitate.
"Oh, yeah," he said. "I think so."
It's a good thing, too, because these guys are going to have to come in and compete, he said.
Meyer repeatedly mentioned the need for the 2014 class to contribute its first year more than the 2013 class did.
That class was ranked by many as one of the top two or three groups in the country, yet very few of its members made a substantial impact this past season.
That won't be the case this year, Meyer said.
"There's no redshirt for these players I'm getting ready to discuss," Meyer said as he ran through names of the defensive backs and linebackers, two areas Meyer believes the program needs depth.
That wasn't the case this past season, as highly touted guys such as linebacker Mike Mitchell and defensive backs Gareon Conley and Eli Apple watched from the sideline.
"We wanted to do it last year," Meyer said. "Gareon Conley should have played last year. That's Gareon's fault and our fault, position coach's fault, if we're going to sit here and blame, which I'm not blaming. But we're counting on these guys to go play."
Along with adding depth at linebacker and defensive back, Meyer and company were also able to address the issue at offensive line, where the Buckeyes lost four starters from a year ago, and failed to make a mark in the 2013 class.
The five offensive linemen are headlined by tackle Jamarco Jones, of Chicago, and guard Demetrius Knox, of Fort Worth, Texas.
Jones committed to Ohio State in June but decided to visit Michigan State at the 11th hour.
"Jamarco Jones, that would have been a fake smile in here today if we didn't get him," Meyer said.
Linebacker Raekwon McMillan leads the pack on defense.
The Hinesville, Ga. native is considered by many to be one of the top one or two linebacker prospects in the country.
McMillan said he knows he'll have the opportunity to earn substantial playing time right away.
Coach Meyer always says he wants the incoming freshmen to play early," he said. "He wants us not to sit back and relax but to compete for a job."
Asked if he could have added something to the Buckeyes' defense this past season, McMillan said it's hard to know.
"It's easy to say that sitting in the house," he said. "But you're not out there flying around at the speed of the game. Any recruit would say, 'I coulda done that, I coulda done this.'"
Whether he could have contributed last year is irrelevant at this point. What he can give now is all that matters, assistant Kerry Coombs said.
"Their job is simple," he said. "Their job is to prepare to play for Ohio State in a very, very short period of time. And that's their only job. We've been around visiting doing home visits with these guys, making sure they understand their expectation of themselves, because it is what our expectation is, is that they come in prepared to play this fall."
The 2014 class marks the final class which will be limited due to scholarship reductions from previous NCAA sanctions.
Meyer is glad to see those limitations lifted.
"It was terrible," Meyer said about dealing with the reductions. "We didn't get through it very well. We would have had more safeties. We would have had not special teams issues that we've had over the years. So nine scholarships was a tough deal. You start doing that with the multiplicity of injuries you deal with. We had 13 season‑ending injuries. So we're anxious to move forward."
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