Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Meyer closes class with a flourish
By Austin Ward
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The baseball mentality popped back in the mind of Urban Meyer as he went to bed.
With the work all done after his first full recruiting cycle with Ohio State and only one night’s sleep left before the fruits of that labor would be revealed, Meyer boiled his evaluation of the work down to what amounted to three at-bats.
Delivering one hit?
“That would be all right,” Meyer said during his Wednesday afternoon news conference.
“That would be a good day.”
Instead Meyer and the Buckeyes had a perfect morning and a hugely successful national signing day, landing all three late signatures they coveted to close out the No. 3 class in the country with home runs on every trip to the plate.
“Three out of three was going to be knocking it out of the park,” Meyer said. “[Safety] Vonn Bell called me two minutes before he walked on the stage or whatever he was doing and said, ‘You know I’m in, right?’ I said, ‘No, I didn’t know you were in, congratulations.’
“We hit 3-out-of-3, and I’m very pleased. ... I’m very impressed with our coaching staff.”
Meyer tried not to single out too many of them after wrapping up the collective effort, but it was no secret that how the Buckeyes closed during the homestretch with Bell, dynamic athlete Dontre Wilson and wide receiver James Clark would ultimately decide how he evaluated his second official class with the program.
Wilson’s flip from Oregon gave him a player who could fill the hybrid, Pivot role in Meyer’s version of the spread that was effectively left vacant last season.
Clark added much needed depth to a position that improved significantly a year ago, but still left something to be desired for Ohio State in the passing game.
The real tipping point, though, was the phone call that came just before 10 a.m. with Meyer on the treadmill in the practice facility, a conversation that conveniently started just as the lead recruiter on Bell was getting ready to sneak out of an adjacent office and watch the announcement live on television.
“I had talked to Vonn’s coach last night, and I said if it’s going to be a good phone call, make sure Coach Meyer gets it,” co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers said. “If it’s going to be a bad phone call, just call me. We kind of worked it out that way.
“It was a pretty exciting time, pretty exciting day, and I think we all felt confident last night that we were going to have an opportunity to get him. ... That meant a lot to Coach, and I think all we did was chest bump, fist bump and say, ‘Let’s go.’”
The wheels were already in motion for the Buckeyes after Meyer opened his tenure with an unbeaten record, something that certainly helped open a few more doors on the road and made the program even more appealing to the top players in the country.
They loaded up in the secondary, adding three ESPN150 cornerbacks to complement Bell and give the Buckeyes one of the best hauls in the secondary in the country. They addressed depth concerns at linebacker by getting signatures from four-star linebackers Trey Johnson and Mike Mitchell, and they added more pieces to work with on a rebuilt defensive line by landing four ESPN300 tackles.
And while the work is now only truly beginning with every member of the class that officially signed up to continue the chase for a national championship, Meyer ultimately appeared to have really set the foundation for following up a perfect season by going perfect on his last three swings on the recruiting trail.
“Obviously I’ve done this long enough to know that it’s on to the developmental phase once you get the letter of intent back, and we’re going to develop them as hard as we ever have,” Meyer said. “But it was a great day.
“I thought it was going to be a very good day, but I’d put it in the great category.”