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Ohio State: Are Buckeyes recruiting enough inside of Ohio borders?

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Ohio State needs to recruit more inside of Ohio, and Urban Meyer knows it. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Recruiting Question of the Day

Ohio State: Are Buckeyes recruiting enough inside of Ohio borders?

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 Ohio State and their recruiting efforts inside of Ohio’s borders.

Ohio State Recruiting Question of the Day

This has been a hot topic of late, for sure.

In fact, after the Buckeyes home win against Nebraska, I kind of opened that can of worms myself.

“This isn’t meant to suggest other players don’t care,” Lettermen Row wrote here. “But there’s no reasonable way to doubt that the chance to put on the uniform means something different to a kid who grew up in the shadows of Ohio Stadium.”

Ohio State wants to recruit more guys in Ohio, though. The coaching staff has made that claim for years, dating back to when it signed six Ohioans in a class of 21 two years ago. In 2018 though, the number shrank even further with just five Buckeye State prospects out of 26 signees.

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Mark Pantoni is constantly evaluating Ohio’s best players, but many of them need to be willing to be patient, too. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

“We always have to keep reminding ourselves Ohio kids are our first priority,” Pantoni said on Signing Day in February 2017. “They will be. Sometimes we probably over-evaluate them because those are the kids we get to camp so many times, we know all about, versus a kid out of state. Trust me, we place so much emphasis on the state of Ohio, and we’re going to continue to and do our best to get the best players out of the state of Ohio.”

Now look at what Urban Meyer said about recruiting Ohio just this week during his Monday morning press conference.

“I’m disappointed at times when I see that we see some of these guys that are just playing their tails off and we have opportunities to get,” Meyer said. “I think this recruiting calendar has really put us in a tough situation at times where we don’t have spring football in the state of Ohio. And a lot of it at times is projection. You see these just fantastic football players that people can say we missed on. And that’s true. But they commit so early.

“Some schools are coming offering 20, 25 Ohio guys right away. I kind of wish we could do that.”

But, the Buckeyes can’t do that, especially if they want to be a national championship contender. Yes, Ohio has great high school football. Yes, more than 28 players on this current roster should be from Ohio. But to win national titles, teams have to get the best of the best from all over the country. Inside of Ohio, prospects are at an inherent disadvantage because there is no spring football, and that eliminates a significant opportunity for evaluation that many kids from all over the country have.

If good programs like Iowa, Michigan State, Boston College, Kentucky and others offer a player that Ohio State hasn’t, they do that while planting a seed of doubt in the kid’s mind that Ohio State doesn’t think he’s good enough. More often than not, that’s true. That player isn’t good enough for the Buckeyes to really consider offering. But for the kids in the middle, the kids that aren’t the elite types, but are either late developers or just a prospect Ohio State wants to evaluate more in person? That’s a whole different ballgame and the area where the Buckeyes have been most affected by the sped-up recruiting calendar and the official visits and signing day changes.

I wrote about that as well two weeks ago.

If a recruit doesn’t camp with Ohio State and commits elsewhere before the senior season starts, the staff is almost always going to wait until the midway point or end of that year to offer, period. That’s when they see film and can evaluate a player’s game since they didn’t get a chance to do it at camp like the Buckeyes would’ve preferred.

The sped-up nature of the recruiting process may be good news for people that cover recruiting, but it’s not a good thing for coaches or for players, in my opinion.

Either way, Ohio State has offered Tommy Eichenberg, Cavon Butler, J.D. Duplain and now Jestin Jacobs from Ohio in the last month, a major recruiting push from the Buckeyes for four players that are all committed elsewhere — and none camped with Ohio State this summer.

Do I think Ohio State is losing its grasp in Ohio? No, I don’t. I just think the game has changed. Programs all over the country are accessible and available to high school kids in a million different ways. When that player doesn’t immediately get love from the Buckeyes? It’s easy to put a chip on his shoulder. The social media love and the accelerated calendar have made it much easier for other programs to increase their footprint in Ohio because they risk nothing by offering every kid that has a pulse.

Ohio State can’t do that. Fans shouldn’t want Ohio State to do that. The best players in Ohio usually get the attention from Urban Meyer’s staff they seek. It doesn’t always work out, and some guys slip through the cracks, but the Buckeyes are working hard to try and balance the need for national players with the need and desire for Ohio kids.

The best way to stay on top of all that recruiting #stuff? Subscribe to Lettermen Row’s Recruiting with Birm newsletter.


Birm is Lettermen Row's Director of Recruiting and the site's primary Ohio State sports photographer. A Toledo, Ohio native, Jeremy has been in similar roles for elevenwarriors.com and Landof10.com and has been covering the Buckeyes for seven years.