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Do certain high school programs have more recruiting clout for Buckeyes?

Craig Young-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Craig Young didn't come from a big-time program, but his athletic ability caught the eye of Ohio State. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Recruiting Question of the Day

Do certain high school programs have more recruiting clout for Buckeyes?

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. Thursday’s question asks about the difference between Ohio State recruiting top talent or top high schools.

Ohio State Recruiting Question of the Day

This is a great question, and like a number of recruiting-related questions, it does not really have a black and white answer.

The matter is almost entirely subjective, and in truth, it’s almost always the player himself who ultimately decides his own fate during recruiting. Sure, there’s no doubt that a lot of schools around the country would prefer to pick kids from top-ranked, nationally-prominent high school football programs. Those kids are often much more college-ready, spend their high school careers traveling to and from big games and have already adapted to stringent time-management/weight-training programs designed to help them make a seamless transition to college football.

That’s why places like the IMG Academy have thrived the way they have in recent years. When prospects wrap up their prep careers down in Florida, they’re ready for the big-time world of college football.

But when it comes to big-time college football, the games are still won and lost between the white lines. That’s why if there’s a plus-athlete at a lesser-known high school competing head-to-head against a solid talent from a place like St. John Bosco, the kid who has the highest upside on the field still is almost always going to get the call. We can look back to the Class of 2019 to see a decent example of this in the linebacker room.

Kourt Williams-Kourt Williams ohio state-Ohio State-Ohio State football-Ohio State recruiting

Kourt Williams is a special athlete and comes from a major college prep program. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State had Craig Young at camp in June. He’d made his way over to Columbus by way of Wayne High School in Indiana. Young was big, fast and checked off all the athletic boxes Ohio State could ask for, working out at multiple positions that day to showcase his versatility and potential upside to the coaching staff. In Massillon at Washington High School — one of the country’s most historic prep programs — linebacker Jamir Thomas was a name on the Buckeyes radar early in his career. But he never developed athletically the way he was projected.

The Buckeyes never really looked his way despite the lineage of great Tigers that have played in Columbus and their relationship with coach Nate Moore there.

There are dozens of examples like this around the country, because the bottom line is that talent wins out most of the time — even if it’s raw and untested. If Ohio State was looking at two similar athletes, one playing St. John Bosco and one playing against bad competition in a meddling league with an over-his-head head coach? Sure, maybe it would take the guy that iot knows has been coached and developed and will be more suited for immediate playing time in college.

But in general, Ohio State trusts its coaches and talent developers to handle their business. The goal is to put the best athletes into the weight program in Columbus with Mickey Marotti, then let the coaches who are being paid a lot of money to teach the game of football do their jobs — regardless of where the players went to high school.

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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.