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 we’re talking about why some big names being recruited by Ohio State may be waiting a bit longer than expected to make a decision.
Ohio State Recruiting Question of the Day
Do you think one reason we have fallen off/slipped down the board with some of our bigger targets is that they are in "wait and see" mode with Days first season at the helm?
— Michael Rossi (@TheMoun10) April 11, 2019
If I’ve written it once, I’ve written it a hundred times: No college football program, even one as prominent and historic as Ohio State, loses a coach with the reputation and legacy of Urban Meyer without suffering some immediate fallout in the wake of his departure. With Meyer in the captain’s chair of the battleship, Ohio State is an all-time great program with an all-time great head coach.
That’s a very attractive combination for recruits and their families, especially combined with the many incredible things Meyer helped develop for the Buckeyes, like Real Life Wednesdays, Brand U, etc. Meyer took Jim Tressel’s program which choked the life out of the Big Ten and gave it new juice and new energy that served as a rising tide for the rest of the conference’s boats.
Entering the summer of 2018, Meyer’s program may have been at its peak, running with full efficiency but almost on autopilot as his CEO-style approach turned the football factory reputation of Ohio State into a well-oiled machine capable of bringing in any player he wanted. The Class of 2020 was on its way to potentially being Meyer’s best — which is saying something — and then the wheels fell off.
Five months later, the all-timer was leaving the helm in Columbus and a guy who’d never been a head coach before was now in charge of one of the country’s top-three college football programs.
Though Meyer’s reputation had taken a hit, his decision to hand off the program to his self-picked successor Ryan Day helped smooth the transition for the new Buckeyes coach. The program, despite last summer’s embarrassing moments, is in fine shape. The principles of what Meyer built remain in place for Day and his coaching staff to utilize and augment, and he’s done that to an almost remarkable degree.
As I’ve spoken to recruits and their families since Day’s ascension to the throne, I’ve been struck by the regular, often unprompted, comments about the energy and intensity around Ohio State’s football facilities changing since December. It’s not that they needed to change necessarily, but Day’s approach is markedly different than Meyer’s off-the-field and strikingly similar on the field. I suppose that should not be a surprise considering how much he’s been molded by Meyer, but regardless it’s something that should fill Ohio State with optimism for what’s to come inside of the Horseshoe this fall and beyond.
When looking at what’s caused Ohio State to fall off in the recruitment of some big-name targets, then, it only makes sense that many are in a wait-and-see mode for what Day and his version of the program looks like on the field. He’s handled every test he’s faced so far with flying colors and can certainly point to his three-game audition last fall as a sign of what he’s capable of, but these are kids making the biggest decision of their lives. They should make sure that Day’s program will continue to excel like Meyer’s did if they have any doubt about it. There’s no reason to hurry into a decision if they are not sure, and that’s why kids like Mekhail Sherman and Kendall Milton decided in December to delay decisions they had planned for this summer.
“There’s a lot of coaching situations changing right now, college football is a trip,” Milton told Lettermen Row in December. “There’s the USC running back coach situation and Urban Meyer stepping down. I want to see how teams adjust and see how the relationship goes with new coaches.”
Some kids don’t have that doubt. Gee Scott doesn’t have that doubt. Jaxon-Smith Njigba doesn’t have that doubt and neither do Luke Wypler or a pair of Jacks: 2020 quarterback Miller and 2021 5-star defensive end Sawyer.
For Day and his coaches, everything they need and want to continue recruiting at the clip Urban Meyer did is right in front of them — and they’ve been winning every battle off the field to this point. Now they need to prove they can keep winning on it as well.
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