Ohio State did very well on the first signing day back in December, but being a brand new process around college football, there were going to be some changes to the way programs came down the stretch in February.
With 21 new Buckeyes in the fold back in December, that left OSU with just a handful of slots to fill. That allowed them to readjust their targets and really ramp up the recruitment on just a few specific players. One of those players was 5-star offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere.
A year ago they couldn’t have been so focused on just a few players in January like they were this time around, and it helped.
“Well, we called it laser-like. The focus was on a few guys and the few guys jumped in the boat, for the most part,” Meyer said. “So, I think the question’s very valid. Can you really put your laser lights on a guy like Nick when you’ve got 15 of them out there. I remember the old days now, you went into January with four or five commitments and you had 20 to go get. Florida State, when I first got in the SEC, Florida State when I was at Florida, they would have one big recruiting weekend right before signing day and they would get 20 signees. Those days are gone. So it’s just a much different approach right now.”
Easing the Pain of Loss
Losing cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs is a blow for the Ohio State coaching staff. Because of the quality of Urban Meyer’s staff, however, they’re better equipped to handle it than most.
Prior to Coombs leaving, Meyer hired Alex Grinch away from Washington State. Grinch’s specialty is in the secondary, which is where he will likely spend some time with the Buckeyes as well. There is also defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, who has coached the safeties the last two seasons.
Having both coaches in the program helps soften the blow a bit.
“I think it does,” Meyer said. “Kerry was an expert at corner play. He had five first round draft picks, I would imagine never had been done before in the history of football. What coach Coombs has done, so that’s a big shoes to fill, whoever gets that spot. And Coach Grinch will be very involved in that. As will Schiano.
Meyer expects the next addition to his coaching staff to be a cornerbacks coach, and it will be happening soon.
“Time’s on our side a little bit, so I would say probably give us a week and we should have a replacement,” he said on Wednesday.
The Best Policy
As Ohio State was coming down the signing day stretch, they were dealing with the constant reports of Greg Schiano’s departure, which would then come up when Schiano was interacting with the recruits. How did he handle it?
“I think it’s all about the relationship you’ve established before that point,” Schiano said. “And if they have experienced you doing what you said you were going to do, then they trust you. And I’m always very, very open and on honest with our recruits, it’s the only way to do it and we communicate.
“But when you have that trust and you have that communication, those issues aren’t as paramount as people believe. Now does it get used against you? Yes. That’s part of the recruiting strategies, but I think it all comes back to relationship and trust.”
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith announced on Wednesday that Urban Meyer would be getting a two-year extension very soon, but he won’t be the only Buckeye coach getting his deal restructured. This is also the time of year when contracts for the assistants are dealt with.
“We’re in the middle of getting their term sheets signed,” Smith said. “We got approval from the president to increase their salaries and this is our normal cycle. Some of you know, our assistant coach contracts run February 1 to February 1. So it’s our normal cycle, not out of the ordinary, after a bowl game Urban and I sit down and we look at the salaries.
“And then this is the first year with our new vice president for HR at the university that we took a comprehensive look at all of our assistant coach salaries. So everyone will have an increase and some will have one-year contracts, some will have two-year contracts, that’s Urban’s call. So we’ll hopefully we’ll have those done next week.”