While not garnering the early raves as rival Michigan, Ohio State is neck and neck with Penn State in the race for the current second-best (so far) 2013 recruiting class in the Big Ten.
Thus, in our second interview with recruiting gurus at fellow Big Ten blogs, we asked Alex Gleitman of Eleven Warriors to answer a few questions about Buckeye recruiting, and the impact of Urban Meyer in Columbus.
BSD: What are your overall feelings of the 2013 class so far?
Alex: I'm feeling good about 2013 so far. This is going to be a smaller class, probably around 18 or so for Ohio State, so they need to be selective and have been so far. They have cast a wide net nationally and are working their way in, trying to make this one of the best classes in the country.
What areas/position groups do you think are most important for the 2013 class? How is the class measuring up to this so far?
The offensive line, wide receiver, and secondary are the three most important areas for this team to improve on for 2013. At receiver, Jalin Marshall is already committed and he is going to be a play maker Urban Meyer will drool over. At offensive line, Evan Lisle is in the bag and things are looking good with Marcell Lazard and Ethan Pocic so that will be great for depth there. Finally, in the secondary, Eli Woodard, Cam Burrows, and Jayme Thompson are committed already and they will likely look to add one more player like Vonn Bell, Su'a Cravens, or Dymonte Thomas to the group, which would make it spectacular. It's pretty clear Urban Meyer knew what he wanted and went after it.
What recruit in the 2013 class are you most excited about and why?
Out of the players committed, I'd have to say Jalin Marshall. He has been pegged "Mr. Excitement" and not for no reason. This kid is a stud, and while he is a high school quarterback, he's likely to play the "Percy Harvin" role in Meyer's offense when he gets to campus.
Who do you think is the top target left for Ohio State?
I would say OT Ethan Pocic is probably the guy they want most, given his talent level and position of need. QB JT Barrett would be up there too and it would be great to get a guy from Texas. Another player Urban Meyer wants badly is Dymonte Thomas, who is currently committed to Michigan. Thomas pledged to That School Up North before Urban came to town and you know that irks Meyer. With cousin Brionte Dunn recruiting him, watch that situation closely as we head towards Signing Day in 2013.
Urban Meyer came to Columbus and started off with a bang. He has quite a proven track record of recruiting, so I’m sure you’re not worried on that front; but what sort of differences have you seen and expect to see between his staff and the staff under Tressel?
I've seen some pretty big differences. From a recruiting stand point, Meyer is much less conservative and is willing to cast a wide net nationally and work his way back in towards Ohio. Tressel liked to work in-state first and fill his class with national guys afterwards. Both coaches will have 10-12 Ohio guys in their classes, but their methods of getting those players and the type of player they are looking for are different.
From a football standpoint, things are run much differently. Obviously I love Jim Tressel and results don't lie, but I think things got a little complacent in Columbus over the past few years, something that's hard to say considering OSU was king of the conference before Tatgate. Meyer is making these guys go hard all the time, both in the classroom and on the field, and it's refreshing to see the new regime take charge. You'll also probably notice a difference on the field, where the Senator was a bit more conservative offensively, and it is rumored Meyer asked if OSU could add a third digit to the scoreboard.
So far in this relatively young recruiting class, Michigan has been able to pick up quite a few commits from the state of Ohio. Is this concerning at all? Why or why not?
This isn't concerning one bit, at least to me. Don't get me wrong, the players Michigan got are talented and some of them likely would have been targeted under Tressel, but only Dymonte Thomas and DeVeon Smith were offered by Urban and his staff, with Dymonte's commitment coming before Meyer came on board and his recruitment, while botched by the old staff, still leaving the door open a tiny bit for OSU to jump in. As I mentioned before, the Buckeyes will only take 10-12 players from Ohio each year, let a lone a smaller class year like this one, and the state is rich in talent, meaning there are going to be plenty of quality players that aren't going to Ohio State year in and year out. Michigan's gain here isn't really Ohio State's loss, but it's the Penn State's, Michigan State's, Notre Dame's, Nebraska's, Wisconsin's, etc. who lose out that Michigan is cleaning up a bit in the Buckeye State. While the Wolverines were down, those schools were able to jump in and get some good players, but Brady Hoke is going to make it his mission that Michigan is #2 in the state of Ohio behind the Buckeyes.
As Penn State is in the same division as the Buckeyes, the two teams play every year. What 2012 signee do you think the Nittany Lions should be on the lookout for? Are there any 2013 recruits you see making the same sort of immediate impact?
On defense, I think the 2012 signee to watch is Noah Spence. He's expected to play early and often and will be someone who can at least get to opposing quarterbacks right away. As a Pennsylvania guy and someone who could have been a Nittany Lion prior to the Sandusky thing, that will definitely be a fun one to watch. On offense for the 2012 guys, Brionte Dunn is someone who was has been enrolled since January and will get to go through spring practice. He is expected to contribute this fall and could even be the starter by year's end. As for 2013, I think Jalin Marshall is the guy to watch on offense thus far, while Cam Burrows, who has been compared to Patrick Peterson, is the guy to watch for on defense.
A fair amount of our targeted players overlap. There are some we’ve recruited where we have virtually no shot, and others where both teams are in play. Where do you think OSU stands on players such as Robert Foster, David Williams, Alex Anzalone, or Dorian Johnson?
Foster was on campus for the second time last weekend and coming into the trip, OSU was the leader from everything I was hearing. Things couldn't be any different now, as rumor has it Foster showed a lot of disinterest in academics, which got back to the coaching staff and apparently was not received well. Word from my sources indicates that Urban Meyer isn't too fond of Foster's behavior while on campus and the two parties will go separate ways. Foster is saying all is well and he plans to take an official visit to Columbus in the fall, but at this point I think the Buckeye coaching staff isn't going to take chances on character issues and will pass. I don't think Williams will be a Buckeye, especially with Ezekiel Elliott committing recently and sitting at top of Derrick Green's list. I think Penn State looks good with Williams right now. Alex Anzalone favors Ohio State and Florida, with Penn State and Notre Dame close behind. I feel good about that one, but let's see which spring game on April 21 he attends, that could be telling. Finally, the Bucks will take three offensive linemen in the class and already have Evan Lisle. Marcell Lazard is close to committing, with Ethan Pocic having OSU on top. I think Johnson is a nice player and a good fit for Urban's system, but at the end of the day I don't see him in Scarlet and Gray.
Is there anything else you would want to add about the current state of Ohio State recruiting?
Not too much, it's just nice to see Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State all back where they belong, at the top of the Big Ten conference. It should be really exciting to see what Urban Meyer, Brady Hoke, and Bill O'Brien can do with these programs over the next five years and I'm ready to strap on the seat belt and go for the ride. Thanks for having me at BSD!
Thanks again to Alex for the insight! For more info on Ohio State football, recruiting, and anything else you could possibly want to know about the Scarlet and Gray, visit www.elevenwarriors.com or follow Alex on twitter at @alex11w.