It’s no secret that there’s a long-running friendship and track record of mutual admiration between Bill Belichick and Urban Meyer, two of football’s most elite coaches. The respective leaders of the New England Patriots and Ohio State Buckeyes have spoken highly of one another and the programs they run at every turn, borrowing coaching philosophies and schematic improvements, and just trading notes about the profession.
Ohio State even has given valuable real estate in the team meeting room to Belichick, featuring a quote on preparedness from the five-time Super Bowl champion coach just to the right of the podium where Meyer holds court. Belichick has spoken at the Buckeyes’ coaching clinics and appeared at multiple pro days at the school.
“[Belichick]’s arguably, if not the greatest coach in all of professional sports, not just professional football,” Meyer told Cleveland.com’s Bill Landis in April 2017. “He’s a very good friend, and he’s got a lot of respect for Ohio State football.”
Belichick’s most recent appearance at Ohio State came on March 22, where the Patriots coach attended the Buckeyes’ pro day in Columbus and even conducted defensive backs drills alongside his former defensive coordinator and new Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia.
He was not the only visitor to campus, as Ohio State also hosted several recruits in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center during the pro day. Although recruits are barred from attending the event itself by the NCAA, Belichick spent time around the facilities before and after the pro day, where he ran into at least one prominent Buckeyes recruit — Florida linebacker Marcus Tillman Jr.
“Everything was great when I visited the school again. I got to see the facilities, watch practice, learn a lot about Ohio other than football, and I also got to meet Bill Belichick. It was crazy meeting him,” Tillman exclaimed when talking with Land of 10.
After the rendezvous between Tillman and Belichick, Meyer spent quite some time speaking with the 2019 recruit about Belichick’s coaching philosophy and what it is that has made the Patriots so dominant under his guidance. He’s orchestrated arguably the greatest dynasty in the history of professional football, and Meyer and Tillman are both fascinated with the way Belichick runs his team and what makes his program tick.
“Coach Meyer explained to the team what [Belichick] looks for in a player,” Tillman said. “It’s not what you do in the game, it’s how you practice. Are you a winner or a loser? Do you push yourself in practice?”
That’s a philosophy that Meyer himself has internalized and made a key pillar of his efforts in recruiting. Whenever he speaks with Tillman or any other recruit whom the Buckeyes are pursuing, Meyer isn’t just looking for a player who succeeds on the field on Friday nights. He’s searching for prospects who conduct the process the right way, from top to bottom, and who contribute to the team on a personal level.
“[Belichick] surrounds himself with players who he likes to coach,” Meyer previously told Land of 10. “That’s a life lesson for me when I go out and recruit now and when I talk to our players. I’m at a point in my career where it’s the same thing. I want to be around people I like to coach. That’s the selfless, tough individuals that will help your team win.”
Tillman has Ohio State among his top schools, and the Buckeyes appear to be vying mostly with the Florida Gators for his services. He is the former high school teammate of Buckeyes’ 2018 early enrollee cornerback Sevyn Banks, sharing a field with Banks at Orlando (Fla.) Jones. Tillman visited Ohio State on Oct. 28, witnessing the Buckeyes’ come-from-behind victory over Penn State in Ohio Stadium during the 2017 season.
For more information on the Buckeyes’ top prospects in the 2019 class and beyond, check in on Land of 10’s comprehensive coverage on all things Ohio State recruiting.