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Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Sanctions mean Meyer must be creative

By Brad Bournival

From expert recruiter to a wizard with the numbers, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has to be creative because of scholarship restrictions handed down by the NCAA.

The key number to look at is 82 -- that’s the bottom-line number and the maximum amount of scholarship athletes the Buckeyes are allowed to have on their roster.

It’s a number Meyer has become quite good at maintaining for the past year after NCAA sanctions. While spots come at a premium at Ohio State right now -- that 82-scholarship limit will be in place through 2014, while other schools are allowed to have 85 -- Meyer is keeping things in check, though there will be a couple of players he’d love to have that he can’t sign because of it.

With 17 commits already in the 2013 recruiting class, there might be only two spots to fill before signing day, but that number is fluid as it will take into account factors such as defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins possibly leaving for the NFL draft and perhaps a few transfers or a decommit.

The telling sign -- at least for now -- that this class is nowhere near finished is the fact Meyer is recruiting as if he still has six or seven spots left.

Ohio State recruiting followers know the names by now: James Quick, Mike Mitchell, Trey Johnson, Vonn Bell, Shelton Gibson, Christopher Worley and Gareon Conley are making headlines regularly.

The answer to how to get there comes in transfers or medical hardship situations where other scholarships become available. Last year, Ohio State was at the limit with one week left before signing day and still found room for two more players.

What it means is the Buckeyes have to be very selective in whom they sign, but at the same time the restrictions aren't a deal breaker in most cases.

A 12-0 season under Meyer didn’t hurt recruiting, either. The Buckeyes won 11 in a row heading into the Michigan game and recruits took notice as more than 60 made their way to Columbus on Nov. 24.

While an afternoon visit means little in the 365-day recruiting cycle, being the only other undefeated team this season aside from Notre Dame is a selling point. Meyer was unbeaten with a majority of athletes he didn’t recruit. And the bowl ban is in the rearview mirror.

So while the NCAA sanctions could sting in the long run, they certainly haven't devastated the Buckeyes.