COLUMBUS — Ohio State has a staff full of the country’s best recruiters, and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson doesn’t need to be one of them.
That’s a pretty great luxury for Ryan Day and the Buckeyes.
Still, Wilson isn’t sitting on his hands or resting on his laurels or any other turn-of-phrase. While the former head coach — who is a real candidate to be one again — could spend the majority of his time focused on scheming up one the country’s most prolific offenses, he continues to work hard recruiting the best fits for the Ohio State program from around the country.
Wilson comes to the recruiting table with a perspective and experience that is rare, especially among tight end coaches throughout America. And he also boasts a cachet that is unmatched at that spot.
Wilson has led three different running backs to 2,000 yard rushing seasons (Adrian Peterson rushed for 1,925 in 2004, so he was close to four), and he was twice at the helm of an offense that produced a 3,500-yard passer, two 1,000-yard rushers and a 1,000-yard receiver — a feat that’s only happened four times in NCAA history. He’s coached Heisman Trophy winners at Oklahoma and quickly built competitive, tough-minded football teams at Indiana with record-breaking stops at Miami (Ohio) and Northwestern before those big-stage performances.
Those credentials are hard to ignore for young recruits, and it’s a major selling point for Ohio State.
“He’s been coaching at the highest level of college football for a long time,” Holden Staes, a Buckeyes 2022 tight end prospect, told Lettermen Row. “So, I know if I were to go there, I would be learning from an experienced coach every day, someone that knows the ins and outs of college football.”
As a recruiter, Wilson isn’t relied on in the same way that guys like Tony Alford, Brian Hartline, Larry Johnson, Al Washington, Matt Barnes and Kerry Coombs are. Like Greg Mattison on the defensive side of the ball, the greatest value he provides is as a teacher of football, breaking down schematics from his unique vantage point. What he sees on tape, and his ability to break it down for recruits, is where he connects with young players. It’s also where he sets his expectations with them.
Wilson has led the Ohio State efforts on a handful of recruits in the last few years. It was his insistence that Dawand Jones was more than just a big body that led to his inclusion in the Class of 2019. He was also the primary evaluator and recruiter for two other talented Indiana prospects, uber-athletic linebacker Craig Young and incoming freshman Josh Fryar, a versatile offensive lineman who recently arrived on campus. He’s led the way in the recruitment of Cormontae Hamilton and Joe Royer and has set his sights on a number of tight ends already in 2022 after helping land Sam Hart in 2021.
Known for his no-nonsense style on the practice field, Wilson recruits hard-nosed, physical players. Still, he has shown a softer side in recent years with recruits, and that’s something that has made him a favorite for players like Benji Gosnell, who may be the Buckeyes top target at tight end in the 2022 class.
“He’s a real, well-rounded, genuine guy,” Gosnell told Lettermen Row. “A lot of the talks me and him have are mainly just talks about everyday life. Talks like regular friends would have.”
On a staff full of the country’s best recruiters, Kevin Wilson doesn’t need to hit a bunch of home runs for Ohio State on the recruiting trail. He needs to run the Buckeyes offense to maximum productivity. Nothing he does provides more value for Ryan Day than that.
But it doesn’t hurt that he can also provide a recruiting bonus every now and then as well.