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How much has media scrutiny impacted Ohio State 2019 recruiting class?

Article written by:On3 imageJeremy Birmingham


Urban Meyer by Birm:Lettermen Row

Have a question about Ohio State recruiting? This is the place for you, five days a week. Submit your questions on Twitter or on the Lettermen Row forums. Check in daily to see what’s on the mind of Buckeyes fans all over the country. Today’s question is about how the challenges of the last few months have impacted 2019 recruiting.

Ohio State Recruiting Question of the Day

The most important, or poignant, part of the question may have been in parentheses.

Ohio State, with 15 commits, has the Big Ten’s second-ranked 2019 recruiting class. And despite having 10 fewer commitments than Michigan, remains in striking distance to overtake it as the league’s best class if a few key recruitments break in favor of the Buckeyes.

So, before we address the bigger question, let’s be clear: Ohio State is still recruiting at a pretty darn good clip. Have the Buckeyes fallen off from the ridiculous momentum they built in the 2017 and 2018 classes? Sure, but I think in some ways that’s expected. When you’re stockpiling talent on top of talent, there starts to be a little backlog and recruits are savvy enough to pay attention to that. It’s not a matter of being afraid of competition or anything like that, it’s just being smart.

The 2019 class nationally isn’t great. We’ve written that here at Lettermen Row for a while now, and it’s important to realize that when considering the overall quality of the current crop of commitments for Ohio State. The mess around Zach Smith and Urban Meyer and now speculation around Meyer’s future hurts, but what’s really slowed down Ohio State the most has been uncertainty around the numbers. At a time when Ohio State was starting to really crank up the energy on the recruiting trail right after Friday Night Lights and toward the end of July, there was a giant, unseen pothole that bottomed out the bus. It’s been slow going ever since.

The Buckeyes have only 10 seniors. The program has churned out early entrants to the NFL over the last few seasons, but aside from a few no-brainers like Nick Bosa, Dre’Mont Jones, Mike Weber and K.J. Hill, it’s been difficult to predict who would return for 2019 and who would depart with eligibility remaining. That makes it pretty hard to know how many spots are going to be open in a recruiting class. There are always a few other spots that open for various reasons, but a program can’t recruit with scholarships that it doesn’t have, period.

Then there are the other issues.

Ohio State has not recruited its home state particularly aggressively in recent years, but there’s been less local talent worthy of an offer. The players they want in the state don’t want to camp to earn an offer, so Ohio State passes on that player, who then commits elsewhere and establishes strong relationships and bonds before the Buckeyes come calling months later. In 2018 and now in 2019, the best overall prospect in the state has been a little different than the average high school football player, and while Ohio State has done everything it can to try and win the recruitment, there are some things that just can’t be fought. Ohio State isn’t moving. If a kid from Ohio wants to go away from home for school, that’s not something that can be changed.

So it’s a little of this and a little of that, I guess, when trying to pinpoint exactly if anything has gone wrong in the 2019 class.

There’s something I think Buckeyes fans should try to remember, though.

All season long Ohio State has struggled to prove itself as a national power on the football field, and yet it  finds itself 11-1 and on the cusp of the College Football Playoffs after putting up 62 freaking points on Michigan. It’s been called a down year for the Buckeyes. It’s been called a down year on the recruiting trail, too.

But Ohio State has been among the best of the best anyway — and still is. Most fan bases around the country would be thrilled to have a down year like that.

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