There can be some uncomfortable conversations between coaches and recruits when a coach leaves one job for another and then ends up recruiting that same player for his new school.
Some of those conversations have taken place with new Ohio State defensive assistants Greg Mattison and Al Washington. Six months ago at this time, they were trying to put the finishing touches on Michigan’s 2019 recruiting class, while also stoking the 2020 and 2021 fires.
Now, they are both decked out in scarlet and gray and recruiting for the Buckeyes.
How has Mattison had to sell his move to recruits?
“I haven’t really sold it,” he said. “All I know is when I recruit somebody, I always talk about the positives. I talk about coaching the young man. I talk about other coaches on the staff that would be coaching him. About the education at the university. All of those kinds of things. I never bring up any other places I was at.”
But it can still catch some people off guard a bit, right?
“Kind of a funny thing. Like, ‘Hey coach, I never thought I’d see you in red,’” Mattison laughed. “And I said, ‘Well it’s funny because my wife says she thinks I look really, really good in red.’ But that’s about it.”
Tyreke Smith Knows the Time Is Now
Ohio State signed six high school defensive linemen in the 2018 recruiting class, and while four of them saw action last season, they weren’t expected to be relied upon.
That didn’t stop defensive ends Tyreke Smith and Tyler Friday, along with defensive tackles Taron Vincent and Tommy Togiai from getting involved, however.
Smith was immediately inserted into the Rushmen lineup last season, and Friday, Vincent, and Togiai all played legitimate minutes while games were still in doubt.
But the playing time that they each experienced last season needs to increase in year two, and they are well aware of this.
“We always talk about it,” Smith said. “Me, Tommy, Taron, Tyler. We know that we’re not freshmen any more. We know we have to step up and we have to be key parts of the defense. It’s Ohio State. The D-line always is coming and we’re always on top. And we just know we’ve gotta be on top.
“We’ve got to be the best, we’ve got to practice hard, we know we’ve got to do extra. So that’s why I feel like I’ve been trying to step into more of a leader role, trying to be a better player, anything I can do.”
Tight Ends Leading the Way
Talking about the tight ends in the spring is an Ohio State tradition. It’s up there with Hang on Sloopy and the Skull Session.
The tight ends weren’t necessarily showcased in the spring game, but don’t let that cloud your judgment about the kind of offseason the position has had.
With all four scholarship tight ends returning from last year, as well as walk-ons Derrick Malone and Brock Davin, the continuity at the position is unmatched.
That — along with their outstanding work in the weight room — was likely one of the reasons the tight ends received team-wide accolades for their performance as a group during the winter.
And as a group, they’re looking to continue that leadership throughout the rest of the summer and well into the season.
“When you look at it, we’re obviously a pretty young team,” sophomore tight end Jeremy Ruckert said. “We lost a lot of young guys at the skill positions, the linemen, obviously Dwayne [Haskins]. The only group that came with everybody back is the tight ends, so they’re kind of leaning on us for some leadership.
“We really carry this team in the weight room and the team runs. I’m really excited about our group. We’re all doing really well. Everybody from top to bottom in our group is just pushing each other to be the best.”