Urban Meyer Quite Skilled at Replacing "Losses"
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It was barely two weeks ago that Ohio State received a verbal commitment from weakside defensive end Jalyn Holmes out of Norfolk, Virginia.
A lot has happened since then in the OSU recruiting world. The Buckeyes have landed a receiver, a quarterback and an offensive lineman, but the Holmes commitment is one that continued a recent trend under Urban Meyer.
What trend, you ask? The trend of replacing decommitments with players of similar or loftier rankings.
Generally, when a team loses a commitment, they have to scramble to replace him, and it's not likely that they will be able to replace him with a player of equal or better talent.
Recruiting rankings are not the absolute truth when it comes to recruiting and measuring talent, but they are certainly an indication that when a player decommits from Ohio State, the Buckeyes will only need to scramble for so long before finding a way to erase the pain.
Remember when the Buckeyes lost 2013 linebackers Alex Anzalone and Lewis Neal in the span of a week last May? Anzalone was unwittingly involved in a situation that soured him on Ohio State, and Neal was wooed away by LSU.
The Buckeyes were left with a huge void at linebacker, especially considering the influx of youth in the 2012 class, and the overall inexperience that they played with at that position last season. Through the hard work of his staff, however, Meyer was able to replace Anzalone and Neal with high school All-Americans Mike Mitchell and Trey Johnson.
Anzalone, a five-star linebacker, was effectively replaced by Mitchell, also a five-star linebacker. Neal, a three-star linebacker/defensive end, was replaced by Johnson, whom Rivals rated as a four-star prospect and the #3 inside linebacker prospect in the nation.
Not bad for a fall-back plan. Now, Meyer and Ohio State were recruiting Mitchell regardless, but once they lost Anzalone and Neal, the importance of landing Mitchell increased immensely.
But Meyer's work wasn't done in the 2013 class. He also lost three-star receiver Taivon Jacobs in the weeks leading up to signing day. What did he do? He replaced Jacobs (the #54 WR in the nation per Scout) with James Clark, who was Scout's #30 wide receiver.
Last month, Meyer pulled his magic once again when he received the aforementioned Holmes commitment, as he replaced the "loss" of weakside defensive end Lawrence Marshall, who decommitted from Ohio State back in February.
Scout ranks Marshall the #14 defensive end in the nation, while they rank Holmes #11 in the nation. Which of those two becomes the better player won't be known for years, but more often than not, Urban Meyer's disaster plans have a way of working out.
Basically, if this was the prairies of Kansas, Meyer's storm cellar would be an exact or better version of the house he just escaped from, complete with a "Whole-Bunker DVR" and his and hers bathrooms.
It is pretty clear that Meyer takes recruiting seriously, but if he has his way, he will even be traveling back in time to correct a loss that wasn't even his doing.
We're talking some "Quantum Leap" level stuff here.
Back in September of 2010, Cleveland St. Edward offensive lineman Kyle Kalis committed to Jim Tressel. Eleven months later, Kalis famously decommitted from the Buckeyes and committed to the University of Michigan.
Meyer tried to turn Kalis around when he took the job, but the five-star prospect wasn't interested in what Meyer was selling. So now Meyer is trying to rectify that loss in the form of the nation's #1 junior college offensive tackle Jermaine Eluemunor.
Eluemunor, who is currently a UCLA commit, has said that he will be ending his recruitment this Friday, and many expect him to switch his commitment to the Buckeyes at that time.
If Meyer lands Eluemunor, it would be the ultimate in time-release recruiting fixes. Kalis redshirted as a freshman last season, and had he come to Ohio State, it's not likely that he would be in line for a starting spot this season. Essentially, the Buckeyes wouldn't have needed him until 2014, which is exactly when Eluemunor could be settling in.
So yes, it may take some time for Meyer to replace the loss of Kalis, but it sure seems like he's going to do it. Even if they miss out on Eluemunor, they are also in on another top junior college offensive lineman, Chad Mavety.
So, when the unthinkably-inevitable happens again, and the Buckeyes lose a must-have commitment, remember that the Ohio State coaches are out working to rectify the situation. They are, as history has shown, pretty darn good at what they do.
We'll find out over the next few years how much these losses have actually hurt the Buckeyes, if at all. In the present, however, Ohio State has yet to be stranded at the altar and forced to marry somebody that weren't just as in love with.
And in recruiting, that's about as much as you can ask for.
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