Wednesday, February 6, 2013
BuckeyeNation signing day recap
We can almost put a bow on the 2013 recruiting class -- punter Johnny Townsend has not signed his letter of intent and is apparently having second thoughts -- and it was one of the best recruiting classes in school history.
The Buckeyes signed 24 players and finished third in the ESPN class rankings behind SEC powers Alabama and Florida, with 19 of the 24 signees at four stars or more.
Here's a recap of how the day unfolded. Follow the live blog after the jump.
6:45 p.m.: Regardless of whether or not Johnny Townsend signs, the Buckeyes have 12 ESPN 150 players, 17 in top 300, one 5-star senior and 18 four-star seniors.
5:52 p.m.: Now official. Elliott's letter of intent has arrived.
Brad Bournival texted Elliott and asked what he brings to the Buckeyes. One word came back: "Versatility."
5:02 p.m.: And Ezekiel Elliott stays in the class, announcing he's a Buckeye.
RB Ezekiel Elliott (St. Louis/John Burroughs) : Elliott rose from the ranks of the ESPN 300 before finally finding his way in the ESPN 150. As a three-year starter for John Burroughs, he scored 100 career touchdowns.
4:26 p.m.: Picture on internet has Stacy Elliott in gray suit and scarlet tie.
4 p.m.: Running backs coach Stan Drayton is the latest to make clear the Buckeyes are feeling just fine about the last remaining signature.
3:15 p.m.: In the picture now leading BuckeyeNation, for those wondering, the man under the blanket is none other than Massillon Washington junior Marcus Whitfield, who is a 2014 Ohio State target with three offers in tow.
2 p.m.: Urban Meyer is on a multimedia tour. He talked to ESPN Radio's "SVP & Russillo" today about recruiting and the class. Listen here
1:20 p.m.: On Columbus radio, Urban Meyer said there are no more surprises, indicating he knows what's going on with Johnny Townsend and Ezekiel Elliott. Don't be surprised if Townsend either decommits or was told "no thanks" at the last second.
If both Elliott and Townsend were to sign, it would put Ohio State over their scholarship limit by one. Now, they would have the spring and summer to rectify that, as another player could transfer or grade issues could come in to play for a player who is currently on scholarship.
1:14 p.m.: If the Buckeyes don't get Townsend, they do have an option on the roster in Frank Epitropoulos, who was an All-Ohio punter in high school as well as a receiver. He was in the 2012 class and redshirted, so he would have four years, too.
1:09 p.m.: You can watch Ezekiel Elliott's signing live here at 5 p.m. ET.
And here's Meyer's interview on ESPNU from this morning, talking about the class so far.
12:39 p.m.: The excitement of the sprint to the finish clearly took a toll on Luke Fickell.
“Lost my voice a little this morning,” the Ohio State defensive coordinator rasped during a radio appearance on 97.1 FM in Columbus.
The Buckeyes had plenty to be excited about after landing elite safety Vonn Bell on signing day and officially getting the signatures of ESPN 150 linebackers Mike Mitchell and Trey Johnson, with the latter of particular interest for a defense losing two starters from an already thin unit a year ago.
“It’s nice to see it all come together, because we worked our butts off for the last year,” Fickell said. “It’s an exciting group we’ve got, and we addressed a lot of issues. The couple linebackers we’ve got have a chance to come in and help.”
12:25 p.m.: The letter arrived, and Urban Meyer could hardly wait to share the news.
Talking live on his call-in show on the radio in Columbus, the Ohio State coach didn’t have to dodge any questions about the big prize of the morning as Vonn Bell’s signature arrived on campus and Meyer heaped praise on the elite safety’s lead recruiter.
“Everett Withers, that’s as good of a recruiting job as I’ve ever seen,” Meyer said.
12:22 p.m.: There are two verbals still on the board without a letter: punter Johnny Townsend and RB Ezekiel Elliott. Rumors are flying that Alabama is pursuing Townsend. And the math on scholarship spots at OSU is getting fuzzy.
12:05 p.m.: Vonn Bell's letter of intent has arrived. He announced two hours ago, of course.
11:50 a.m.: Austin Ward is in the national chat room now, and Brad Bournival is headed there next.
10:45 a.m.: Movin' on up -- Buckeyes leap Alabama for the No. 2 class in the ESPN rankings. Might be too late to catch Florida at No. 1.
10:25 a.m.: The first loss of the day, but not a major one. Taivon Jacobs flipped to Maryland. He was the lowest-rated among the projected receivers (Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson, Corey Smith, James Clark) who have already signed.
10:20 a.m.: A fax has arrived from California from a highly rated tight end.
TE-H Marcus Baugh (Riverside, Calif./John W. North) : Baugh committed to the Buckeyes without ever seeing the campus. He’s an ESPN 150 senior with great height and hands to play tight end.
10:05 a.m.: Vonn Bell is a Buckeye. A massive get for the closer, Urban Meyer.
S Vonn Bell (Rossville, Ga./Ridgeland) : Bell was a signing day delight, choosing Ohio State over Tennessee and Alabama. He’s one of four ESPN 150 selections in the secondary from the 2013 class.
9:43 a.m.: First player who wasn't already a verbal is in the fold. The Buckeyes pull a receiver from Florida. More details coming in minutes.
WR James Clark (New Smyrna Beach, Fla./New Smyrna Beach): Clark made his last official visit to Columbus, Ohio and became the third four-star wide receiver to join the Buckeyes in the last week.
9:31 a.m.: There have been no surprises yet for Ohio State. It appears there might only be one decision left at this point that might catch the Buckeyes off guard.
In an appearance on ESPNU with 14 national letters of intent already signed and delivered back to his program, Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer sounded both confident and relieved with the early returns and what is shaping up to be a productive signing day for the second year in a row.
“You want it go smooth,” Meyer said during the televised interview. “I feel good about where we’re at, and I think there’s only one player we don’t know about yet.
“So far, so good.”
9:18 a.m.: East Mississippi Community College just tweeted that this LOI is on its way.
WR Corey Smith (Akron, Ohio/East Mississippi Community College): Smith turned down a commitment to Mississippi State to play for the Buckeyes. He’s an Akron, Ohio native and grew up an Ohio State fan.
9 a.m. update: Out of the players with verbal commitments, we still haven't received word of letters from RB Ezekiel Elliott, WR Corey Smith, WR Taivon Jacobs, P Johnny Townsend or TE Marcus Baugh. (It's just 6 a.m. for Baugh, though.) Jacobs was wavering on Monday, and Clark is scheduled to have a ceremony in the next hour or so. And the big Vonn Bell announcement is at 10:05. It's Tennessee, Alabama or Ohio State, of course. Elliott's ceremony is scheduled for 5 p.m. ET.
8:53 a.m.: Glenville in the house. That makes 14.
OLB Christopher Worley (Cleveland/Glenville): Worley is the 19th Glenville Tarblooder to commit to the Buckeyes since 2002. He’s a hybrid linebacker/safety with pop.
8:49 a.m.: Here's another huge one.
ILB Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett) : A decommitment from Auburn, Johnson gave his pledge to the Buckeyes at the Under Armour All-America Game. He’s expected to be an immediate impact player for the Buckeyes.
8:31 a.m.: A Texas two-step on the letters of intent. The second major get from the Lone Star state is also in. Dontre Wilson is a Buckeye, officially.
ATH Dontre Wilson (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto) : Wilson was an Oregon commit up until Feb. 4, but picked the Buckeyes after an official visit a few weeks ago. He was the Ducks’ second-highest rated commit when he chose Ohio State.
8:29 a.m.: Two more letters from two big out-of-state gets, and another big guy from Shaker Heights.
OLB Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian Academy) : Mitchell is one of two ESPN 150 linebackers to give their signatures to the Buckeyes, joining Trey Johnson. He announced his commitment at the U.S. Army All-American Game.
DT Michael Hill (Pendleton, S.C./Pendleton) : An ESPN 300 defensive tackle, Hill injured his hand and had to have surgery, missing the second half of his senior high school season. He’s been a longtime Ohio State fan.
DT Donovan Munger (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Shaker Heights) : Munger took a secret official visit to Florida State in January, but remained a Buckeye. He could be the key to bringing ESPN Watch List junior and former high school teammate Joe Henderson to Ohio State next season.
8:06 a.m: The eighth letter is from Toledo.
S Jayme Thompson (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) : Thompson was originally a West Virginia commitment, but flipped to the Buckeyes early in the process. He trains inBrazilian jiu jitsu at his father’s academy in Toledo, Ohio.
8:03 a.m.: No. 7 is BIG offensive tackle Tim Gardner out of Indianapolis.
OT Tim Gardner (Indianapolis/Lawrence Central): Gardner originally tried to commit in June, went home and worked on things and then was allowed to in July. He should be a force down the line.
7:51 a.m.: And now Billy Price is in as well.
DT Billy Price (Youngstown, Ohio/Austintown Fitch) : The third verbal commitment of Ohio State’s class, Price has been a mouthpiece for the Buckeyes for almost a year. At 6-foot-4 and 305 pounds, he’s hard to miss on the playing field.
7:51 a.m.: Fifth to sign is the No. 5 athlete in the country.
ATH Jalin Marshall (Middletown, Ohio/Middletown) : Marshall is expected to be one of the first members of the freshman class to see substantial minutes on the field. A quarterback in high school, he is being groomed for the slot receiver position.
7:45 a.m.: The local line is working as well. Darron Lee 's letter is in.
S Darron Lee (New Albany, Ohio/New Albany): Lee is an athlete by trade, but is a lockdown defender all the way. His ability to hang with ESPN 150 Vonn Bell at OSU’s senior advanced camp proved his worth.
7:42 a.m.: No. 3 is in.
OT Evan Lisle (Centerville, Ohio/Centerville) :The fifth commitment of the 2013 class, Lisle chose Ohio State over six BCS schools, including Michigan. He could find his way onto the depth chart quickly.
7:39 a.m.: Letter No. 2 is from Massillon.
CB Gareon Conley (Massillon, Ohio/Washington) : A decommitment from Michigan, Conley has started just two seasons as a defensive back, but was an ESPN 150 standout. He’s got the perfect build to play corner.
7:31 a.m.: The first letter is in, and it's from Florida.
DT Joey Bosa (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) : The son of a former NFL player, Bosa is a natural on the defensive line and can play anywhere Meyer needs him. He’s an ESPN 150 senior with the attitude the Buckeyes crave.
7:06 a.m.: Think Ohio State isn’t ready?
Jerry Emig, the Buckeyes athletic communications representative, sent out his first tweet at 5:59 a.m. “Already at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center - by 5:40 a.m. - for a big day of Ohio State football. Will tweet NLIs from here all day.”
Mark Pantoni, OSU’s director of player personnel, beat him by 11 minutes with his first tweet: “IT.IS.TIME #NSD2013”
CB Eli Apple (Voorhees, N.J./Eastern) : Apple is the only five-star athlete for the Buckeyes and one of just 11 nationally according to ESPN.
QB J.T. Barrett (Wichita Falls, Texas/Rider) : Barrett tore his ACL and meniscus in the middle of his senior season. He’s an early enrollee at Ohio State and has been under team physicians’ care since the beginning of January.
CB Cam Burrows (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison) : Burrows is one of three cornerbacks ranked in the top 10 in the nation for the Buckeyes.
DE Tyquan Lewis (Tarboro, N.C./Tarboro): Lewis is a hybrid defensive end/linebacker with a vast knowledge of the game.
DE Tracy Sprinkle (Elyria, Ohio/Elyria): Sprinkle can play on the interior or exterior portion of the defensive line and succeed.