When Urban Meyer’s teams find success -- and by success we mean national championship achievement -- it usually comes with a blanket.
The two-time national champion breeds defensive backs built to play at the next level, and the proof is in his resume.
Ohio State’s vaunted offense came into the national championship game against Florida and gained 82 yards, 47 through the air.
Cornerback Ryan Smith had a cup of coffee with the Titans, and free safety Reggie Nelson was a first-round selection and has played for Jacksonville and Cincinnati from that team.
Two years later, the Gators were at it again and this time put cornerbacks Joe Haden (Cleveland) and Janoris Jenkins (St. Louis), free safety Major Wright (Chicago) and strong safeties Ahmad Black (Tampa Bay) and Will Hill (New York Giants) in the league.
It’s a statistic not lost on the current crop of defensive backs who signed their letters of intent with Ohio State on Wednesday.
“He believes in his players,” incoming cornerback and ESPN 150 standout Gareon Conley said. “In turn, they all play hard for him. His confidence in them just builds their confidence up and they play better.”
With five-star cornerback Eli Apple joining ESPN 150 representatives in Conley and Cam Burrows, the secondary is already off to a strong start. That's three of the top nine cornerbacks in the country, according to the ESPN rankings.
Meyer’s faith is also reciprocated in the fact he doesn’t look at age when it comes to his two-deep chart.
If the best player on the field is a freshman, the freshman starts. It’s the way Meyer has always set his depth chart and it’s something that has given his recruits confidence.
“He plays the best,” Conley said. “He doesn’t look at the grade. It’s whoever will work hard and go out there and perform.”
Speaking of performance, what happens between the lines at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in the fall should instantly show at The Horseshoe.
While All-America cornerback Bradley Roby is unquestionably the face of the Buckeyes secondary, don’t be surprised to see these freshmen come to the forefront sooner instead of later.
Apple and Burrows enrolled early and will likely pass along what they’ve learned to Conley, Bell, Thompson and Lee when they enroll.
“We can be great,” Conley said. “The skill they have, plus my skill -- I think we’ll be able to shut down anybody.
“The confidence level just builds up as we go. We’ll all get better once we get there.
I think it will be competitive even in practice. I’ve seen competitive football here at Massillon, but all the talent and skill put together, we’ll be great.”