It’s Apples to Oranges and a NY/NJ Pipeline: Meyer Picking The Big Apple Over the Sunshine State in 2014
By Michael Chung
Urban Meyer has gone on record that he is a Jimmy Buffet fan but these days, do not be surprised if he is listening to Frank Sinatra’s version of New York, New York and there is no place he would rather be “top of the heap” than in that region of the country.
Jim Tressel used to have a recruiting philosophy of Ohio as the primary recruiting grounds but supplementing the classes with recruits outside of Ohio. The Vest built a “Great Wall” around Ohio keeping a lot of the top talent in state. From 2006-2010, Ohio State signed an average of 57% of Ohio’s top 10 to national letters of intent. The percentage shoots much higher when factoring that not every Ohio player in the top 10 received an Ohio State offer.
Tressel also signed a player from Florida every year he was at OSU except 2003 when Louis Holmes wanted to sign but could not due to academics.
Fast forward 2013. Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes currently have 18 verbal commitments for 2014. Six are from Ohio and none from Florida. The Buckeyes will likely add the Glenville duo to the class making it 8 top Ohio recruits, but this could be the first recruiting class since 2003 that does not have a Florida star in it despite Meyer having significant Florida football contacts. They already have 2 from the NY/NJ area and are hoping to add a few more.
Tressel used to stress states outside Ohio like Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, and states in SEC country as fertile recruiting grounds. One state or region that was not talked about too much under Tressel is the New York/New Jersey area.
Through the years the Buckeyes have had significant recruits from each of those states like Doug Worthington, Malcolm Jenkins, and Sam Maldinado. Going back even further, All-American defensive back Jack Tatum played his high school football in Passaic, New Jersey, while All-American running back John Brockington came to OSU from Brookyn, N.Y. Former OSU linebacker and assistant coach Glen Mason also hails from The Garden State. Others from New Jersey include linebacker Bruce Elia (1971-74) and running back Calvin Murray (1977-80). Both Elia and Murray went on to have NFL careers. Defensive line standout Will Smith is a New York native having been born in Queens, New York, and played his high school football in Utica.
Despite some success, New York/New Jersey have not always been the first state(s) outside Ohio that Buckeye fans think about. Even Michigan has been on the Buckeye recruiting radar over the years with names like Craig Krenzel, Reed Fragel, Damon Webb, Vernon Gholston, and Johnathan Hankins.
That has changed this year as Urban Meyer has really been hitting the NY/NJ area hard and continues to pound away to draw talent west towards Columbus. ESPN’s Jared Shanker tweeted that “Ohio State is recruiting New Jersey very hard. They've gotten some good players out of garden state . . . Urban Meyer recruited NJ well at Florida too. Will Hill and Josh Evans from NJ.”
Here are the significant names that have either committed or are being targeted by the Buckeyes in that specific region for 2014 (2015 Meyer has already offered NJ QB Brandon Wimbush).
Curtis Samuel (6’0” 190, ATH, 2014, NY)
The 17th commitment for 2014, this speedster was an OSU must get and the Buckeyes got him. With blazing speed, Samuel joins Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin in the 2014 class as guys who run a 4.41s 40 or below. Samuel is listed as an ATH and can play on both sides of the ball but will likely be a “Percy Harvin” type player trying to utilize his speed to create mismatches. With Dontre Wilson already in the fold, look for the OSU offense to design packages featuring these two and do not be surprised if there are some formations when both are on the field.
Noah Brown (6’2” 210, WR, 2014 Sparta, NJ)
Lucky #18 for 2014, Brown has been in the news for a while and made a final visit to OSU Sept.6-8 on an official and committed to Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes the very next day. Brown does not have the speed of a Curtis Samuel but the-Ozone’s own Tony Gerdeman compared Noah Brown to former Illinois and current WR for the Philadelphia Eagles Arrelious Benn. If the Buckeyes can get that kind of production out of Brown, B1G teams are in for a future hurting.
Scout.com writes, “As a junior, Brown rushed 98 times for 847 yards and 14 touchdowns, caught 41 passes for 630 yards and six touchdowns, and he returned four kickoffs for touchdowns.”
Brown visited Ohio State on July 24 but did not commit after everyone was expecting him too. Then it appeared Rutgers moved ahead but Brown never verbally committed. He finally pulled the trigger and joined an already loaded 2014 recruiting class.
Chad Mavety (6’6” 320, OL, 2014, Garden City, NY)
The Buckeyes appear to have had Chad Mavety as their number one guy all along and really want this New York junior college star OL to come to Columbus. After Noah Brown committed, Mavety wished him well on Twitter and Brown tweeted back: “@chadmavety55 you know what to do bro ....come join me.” I think in the end, he follows Noah Brown and Curtis Samuel to Columbus in this year’s New York/NJ pipeline. Read his the-Ozone interview here.
Mike Gesicki (6’6” 237, TE, 2014 Manahawkin, NJ)
Mike has a commitable offer and Meyer believes he is the missing piece to the OSU championship puzzle. Gesicki is tall at 6’6” and fast for a TE running a 4.52s 40. This makes him the kind of physical freak that Meyer loves to have in the fold. Meyer would love to add this playmaker to the Buckeye family and use Gesicki as a future recruiting pitch much like he did previous stars at FL.
Thomas Holley (6’5” 290 DL, 2014 Brooklyn, NY)
It has been reported that Holley spends a lot of time at his friend’s house—basketball star Isaiah Whitehead. Whitehead believes Holley will go to either Alabama or Syracuse. Thomas has not visited Alabama but Syracuse seems to be high on his list. One factor that will work in OSU’s favor is Curtis Samuel, who is friends with Holley. They have discussed which schools they are interested in and Holley has expressed that he has high interest in Ohio State. (Mitch Abramson, NY Daily News)
It sounds like Holley will visit the schools of interest before he decides which could be around December or January.
Quenton Nelson (6’5” 295, OL, 2014, Red Bank, NJ)
This Notre Dame commit is still highly sought after. Rutger’s commits have gone on record that they are trying to bring Quenton home while OSU commits were clearly working on him at The Opening. Elijah Hood has already de-committed from ND and do not be surprised if coaches and commits from other schools will continually try to lure the Q away from ND. Meyer has flipped ND OL commits before and he would love to do it again, this time getting the Q to come to C and play for UFM.
With two NY/NJ stars in the fold and possibly a few more to come, Urban Meyer is trying to take a bite out of the Big Apple and the Garden State for football talent. With five months left until National Signing Day, don’t be surprised to see more commits from this region flowing to Columbus on the NY/NJ pipeline.