Under Urban Meyer, Ohio State has mastered the art of flipping commits from other programs around the conference and country when it’s looking to fill needs in recruiting. Ohio State’s football coaching staff and recruits have not shied away from going toe-to-toe with their rivals.
Since Meyer arrived at Ohio State during the 2012 recruiting cycle, the Buckeyes have signed eight players who were committed to other Big Ten programs. Ohio State has taken two players each from Michigan (Mike Weber, Gareon Conley), Michigan State (Gavin Cupp, Se’Von Pittman), Maryland (Dwayne Haskins, Keandre Jones) and Nebraska (Cameron Brown, Darius Slade).
Who are some of the primary options for Ohio State to flip in the 2019 recruiting class? Here are five prospects that Meyer and his staff are working to flip or could pursue for a flip down the line.
Julian Barnett – Michigan State commit – Belleville (Mich.) – Defensive back
Ohio State offered 4-star Belleville (Mich.) defensive back Julian Barnett in December, just hours before Barnett committed to Michigan State and decided to stay home. At the time, Barnett was close to Ohio State assistant Kerry Coombs, who has since left to coach for the Tennessee Titans. Barnett is a 6-foot-1, 186-pound prospect with the length and athleticism that Ohio State desires in its secondary.
Barnett’s commitment seems relatively solid, but Ohio State’s Meyer and Taver Johnson have been in touch with the Detroit-area standout. The Buckeyes are aggressively pursuing Barnett and his teammate, 5-star tackle Devontae Dobbs, and could be in line to land the duo if anything were to happen with Mark Dantonio and his coaching staff at Michigan State in light of recent allegations of player sexual misconduct and a possible cover-up.
“I’m just going with the flow, just like they are. I’m still strongly committed to them, but if some changes happen with them, some changes will happen with me. I’m just keeping my head on straight,” Barnett told Land of 10 in February, shortly before visiting Ohio State on Feb. 18.
Ohio State wouldn’t take many commitments from defensive backs right now — in fact, a source shared recently that they were slow-playing an overall top-100 prospect at the position — but Barnett is a player they’re strongly pursuing and would like to steal.
Nolan Rumler – Michigan commit – Akron (Ohio) Hoban – Guard/center
Nolan Rumler is the top offensive lineman in Ohio, the No. 4 guard nationally in 2019, and the No. 93 player overall in his class. The Akron Archbishop Hoban prospect is a lifelong Michigan fan and has been committed to the Wolverines since July 2017, but that hasn’t stopped Ohio State from attempting to change his mind.
“Ohio State has been coming at me pretty hard,” Rumler told Land of 10 last month. “They want me to play center for them, and that’s what they’ve been telling me. They keep saying they really like me and that I’m still a priority for them. They’re still swinging, for sure.”
Rumler hasn’t committed to the idea of taking any visits while he’s committed to Michigan, but Ohio State and other programs will continue to press him. An intriguing factor to watch is the departure of Michigan offensive line coach Tim Drevno, who was Rumler’s primary point of contact with the Wolverines.
Jettisoning Drevno from the program as early as Michigan did — nearly a year before Rumler’s National Signing Day — may help the Wolverines and give them a better chance to hang on to the 4-star lineman. Ed Warinner, the new offensive line coach at Michigan and a former Ohio State assistant, will have plenty of time to build a relationship with Rumler. Plus, the quality of Michigan’s line play, which has been dreadful in recent seasons, could improve.
Marquez Beason – Illinois commit – Dallas Bishop Dunne – Athlete/defensive back
To say that Marquez Beason’s decision to commit to Illinois — over finalists Ohio State, LSU and Texas A&M — on March 10 during his visit to the school was shocking would be an understatement. Beason in the No. 54 player nationally, the No. 6 athlete, and the No. 9 player in Texas. He holds more than 40 scholarship offers and easily would be the highest-rated recruit to choose Illinois in recent memory.
His commitment understandably has been met with skepticism. Beason may continue to take planned official visits to Texas A&M (April 13), LSU (April 20), and Ohio State (unscheduled). Schools around the country won’t let up on the 5-11, 173-pound standout.
Ohio State is recruiting Beason as a defensive back.
“Ohio State has a great secondary coach, a great defensive coordinator, and they just produce a lot of great guys going to the NFL for offense and defense,” Beason told Land of 10 when he was offered. “They have a great education program and they don’t just focus on football. They focus on helping you become a man and what you do after football.”
Graham Mertz – Wisconsin commit – Mission (Kan.) Blue Valley North – Quarterback
Wisconsin commit Graham Mertz seems like a tough pull for the Buckeyes. Ohio State is one of a dozen Power 5 programs to offer Mertz since he committed to the Badgers, but to date he has resisted all talk of taking visits to other programs and seems content with Wisconsin. The prospect from suburban Kansas City is ranked as a 4-star prospect and the No. 9 pro-style passer in the 2019 class.
Logan Brown – Wisconsin commit – Grand Rapids (Mich.) East Kentwood – Tackle
Grand Rapids (Mich.) East Kentwood tackle Logan Brown is the only prospect on this list who does not hold an Ohio State offer. However, the Buckeyes badly need tackles in this class and I would consider Brown to be on the short list of elite players at the position.
The 6-6, 285-pound standout has been committed to Wisconsin since Nov. 19, but Brown also holds offers from Alabama, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and eight other Power 5 programs. Brown is ranked as the No. 7 tackle and the No. 44 prospect nationally in the 2019 class on the 247Sports composite. Brown visited Ohio State on July 26, 2017. Notre Dame and Auburn are two other programs that have not offered Brown but have shown serious interest.
Several programs — primarily Michigan and Michigan State — have pushed hard to get Brown on campus for unofficial visits since his commitment, but he has not budged. I think Brown is a major talent who’s worth trying for. Even if he says no, a little wounded pride is worth the pursuit of a future NFL tackle.