Meyer Has His Staff Scouring the Country for Top Talent
By Patrick Murphy
COLUMBUS, Ohio — There was a sense things were about to change when Urban Meyer stepped on Ohio State’s campus as the new head football coach.
Photo by Dan Harker
Perhaps the biggest of changes was in recruiting. While OSU had always done well on the recruiting trail, Meyer had a new philosophy and tenacity to getting the best high school football players in the country to join him in Columbus.
Under the previous regime, the focus was on taking care of the state of Ohio, making sure the top high schools in the state were happy with the Buckeyes. While Meyer and his staff want to see the next Ohio State stars come from the state, they must be among the nation's best as well.
“We're going to look for the 25 best players in the country,” said OSU cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs.
“For me, I want to recruit the two best corners in the country.”
With his first recruiting class, Meyer went after those top dogs and was successful despite getting a late start. He was able to get players like Noah Spence and Taylor Decker to flip schools and sign with the Ohio State late in the process. Spence was likely headed to Penn State before the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
In limited time, Meyer showed what he could do, landing the Buckeyes a top recruiting class.
The following year was no different. Meyer and his staff made it their objective to get the best players in order to return this program to national prominence. The class featured 14 out-of-state players of the 24 Ohio State signed, 13 of which were rated four star prospects or better by Rivals.com.
The coaching staff cares about recruiting Ohio though, as it has traditionally been one of the most fertile grounds for high school players.
“We obviously understand Ohio State and how we're representing the state of Ohio, so that's our first priority, the state of Ohio,” said wide receivers coach Zach Smith, who is originally from Dublin.
“We want to take the best players in the state of Ohio because we know they have the passion and genuine love for this university.”
Meyer hired eight of nine assistants with Ohio ties and often jokes the ninth guy, safeties coach Everett Withers, wishes he was from the Buckeye State. With that said, these coaches are focused on winning national titles and that almost certainly requires national talent.
“We're not going to take a lesser player from somewhere if we can get the best wideout in the country,” Smith continued.
“If they're in Ohio, great, we want them; if they're somewhere else, we're gonna go out and get him. We're out trying to find the best of the best.”
This mentality has helped Meyer and those who coach under him become highly regarded around the college football landscape, but recruiting is more than just getting the best player. While fans can often focus their attention on the way sites rank high school players, the coaches must make their own judgments. Meyer and his staff must evaluate every prospect they consider, and that is a large part of the recruiting process.
Photo by Dan Harker
“I think we look for a very specific kind of kid,” Coombs said.
“We know what the expectations here are going to be, so we recruit that kind of kid... I suppose you can always be really disappointed, but I think if you've done our homework and you research into what kind of kid you're getting before you offer him.”
This is where the position coaches spend a lot of their time after spring practice. On top of recruiting their designated area, they must get out and see the high school players at their position.
“I have several recruiting areas that I have to have great communication with, but I'm also going to be going around to see the best corners in the country and make sure that I get a chance to see them,” said Coombs of his next several weeks of recruiting.
Not only will successfully recruiting set Ohio State up for the future, but it also provides depth and competition right now that makes everyone better.
“There's a rule in football, you always want a pair and a spare,” said Hinton.
If there is talent behind the starters, the coaches can trust them when they are called upon. Whether it is injury or just the opportunity for a player to get some rest, having depth ready to play is important during the college football season.
Just because the coaches cannot work with the players over the next few months does not mean their job is done. They will be scouring the country looking for the next group of Buckeyes to run out on Saturdays at Ohio Stadium. They will look for the best talent, but talent that fits the Buckeye way.
So far so good for Meyer and his staff.