There’s good news coming for Ohio State and its recruiting efforts, and it’s not what many might expect.
It’s not a new commitment or anything like that. Instead, it’s a month-long dead period that encompasses nearly all of February and levels the playing field for schools all over the country.
Ohio in February isn’t exactly a tourist destination. And no matter how well the Buckeyes coaching staff has developed relationships with their top recruits, it’s nearly impossible to measure up against the cream of the crop in the SEC and ACC this time of year if those schools were hosting players on campus.
In-person contact and communication always trumps electronic conversation. This new dead period turns the focus in February and sets up a full month of evaluation and education for Ryan Day and his coaching staff.
What are the three keys for the Buckeyes in February since no on-campus visits will be happening? Lettermen Row is taking a look at the February recruiting to-do list for Ohio State after a successful January.
Item One: Ohio State needs to set up spring visits for top targets
The biggest thing the Buckeyes can accomplish this February? Use the dead period to make sure that March and April are chock-full of top visitors.
That means no matter when they return to Columbus, the Ohio State staff needs to lock up the dates for the next visits from players like Donovan Edwards, Troy Stellato, Emeka Egbuka, Jager Burton, Demeioun Robinson, Barrett Carter, Tony Grimes and more.
As mentioned recently, the Buckeyes have chosen not to engage in the big junior day weekends that have proven successful at places like Clemson and Georgia, choosing instead to focus on smaller events that allow for the coaches to connect with kids and their families on a more intimate level. What that means is that though the spring game will certainly draw a large group of visitors, there will be a lot of random, midweek visits being made by one or two players.
The key for the Buckeyes is to make sure those visits happen, and the first step in making that happen is locking in actual dates.
If Ohio State is going to maximize their recruiting time in February, it will need to remove the tentative travel plans for top targets and replace them with solidified travel plans.
Columbus, Ohio is a much better place to visit in March and April than it is in February.
Item Two: Buckeyes need to know which tailbacks are real targets
The recruiting need at running back in 2021 is very real for Ohio State.
In the last recruiting contact period, a two-week stretch at the end of January, the Buckeyes went all over the country to talk to their top targets at tailback, and that included stops from Ryan Day and Tony Alford in Texas to meet with Camar Wheaton and Michigan to check in on Donovan Edwards. That duo may be the cream of the proverbial running back crop, but there are a number of other important targets like Evan Pryor, Brandon Campbell, Will Shipley and Corey Kiner who are also very much in the mix for the Buckeyes.
The next month is when the kids who are really interested will separate themselves from those who aren’t. How does that happen? One good way to differentiate between the two categories is to examine who took care of item No. 1.
Item Three: Ohio State has to find 2021 defensive backs
One of the primary needs in January was the hiring of Kerry Coombs. And now with Coombs in the mix, it’s time for the new Buckeyes defensive coordinator to get to work on locating the next wave of Buckeyes defensive backs.
In the first two weeks on the recruiting trail, Coombs saw every one of the Buckeyes primary targets in the secondary and began building his relationships with prospects like Tony Grimes, Jakailin Johnson, Jordan Hancock and others. But now those first conversations need to grow and turn into recruiting wins. It was February a year ago when Jeff Hafley first identified and offered Cameron Martinez, Lathan Ransom, Clark Phillips and began the conversations with Kourt Williams, though his offer didn’t come for another month.
Will Coombs find his own wave of prospects like Hafley did, or is he a believer in the current group that have already been identified and offered?