ARLINGTON, Texas — The Lake Travis practice schedule doesn’t change for anybody, not even Urban Meyer.
Next time the Ohio State coach heads down to the high school in Austin, Texas, he’ll know. Maybe that way Meyer can save himself from 90 minutes of watching the Cavaliers practice special teams when all he wants to see is a quarterback throw or receivers run routes.
Make no mistake, Meyer will be back to Lake Travis even after his amusing first visit late last year to one of the premier programs in the Lone Star State. After eventually getting to see Matthew Baldwin toss some footballs around an indoor facility in what amounted to a private workout, Meyer wound up signing the passer who could turn out to be an under-recruited gem.
The Buckeyes coach also got a sneak peek at a couple players who figure to draw him back to Lake Travis — and might even be worth sitting through another kicking-game period or two.
“[Meyer] sat there, and we practice a lot of special teams because we pride ourselves on that third of the game,” Baldwin said. “We practiced it for a while and he was sitting there watching, and it was funny because he was there to see us and had to watch special teams.
“It was cool, because I knew they were coming. But yeah, he did not enjoy that. I think he got a little antsy.”
Meyer eventually got to see what he came for, and he came away convinced that Baldwin was the right choice as the only quarterback in Ohio State’s 2018 signing class. And two guys who ran routes for Baldwin on that chilly, rainy morning potentially could give Ohio State’s future recruiting efforts more Lake Travis flavor.
But first the Cavaliers had to wrap up their normal routine before wide receiver Garrett Wilson and versatile athlete Hudson Card could join Baldwin so he could show off his arm and his targets could plant a seed.
“It was funny, I never felt like a piece of glass more because I’m standing there trying to talk to my guys and they’re just staring at Coach Meyer,” Lake Travis offensive coordinator Michael Wall said. “I’m trying to go over the quarterback adjustments for that week, so I actually made them turn around at one point so they could focus up a little bit.
“It was pretty cool, for sure. Coach Meyer is in a league with few others in terms of his caliber of coaching, but we’re also no stranger to having great coaches come in and watch our practices. They just caught us during a special-teams practice, and we don’t put on a show for those guys or anything.”
The display when it was over, though, will surely stick with the Buckeyes as they formulate a recruiting plan moving forward. Texas has increasingly been a fertile area for Ohio State the last few years, with J.T. Barrett, J.K. Dobbins, Jeffrey Okudah and Baron Browning among the recruits it has plucked from the state. But Lake Travis specifically could become a familiar stop for Meyer and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day.
Next year, in particular, it’s a safe bet that Wilson will be a priority for Ohio State. The 4-star target has ties to Columbus after growing up in the area, offering Meyer and his staff an opening and reason to pursue Wilson as an out-of-state prospect. Plus, Baldwin has plenty of experience throwing to the gifted athlete, who put his impressive skills on full display in the state championship game after his starting quarterback was injured. Even without scoring a touchdown, Wilson sparked a comeback by making 8 impressive catches for 99 yards while also playing in the defensive secondary and serving on special teams.
“He’s a difference-maker,” Wall said. “Special athlete. He’s probably going to be, when it’s all said and done, the most offered kid that we have ever had. He’s got 20 offers right now. We’ve had that before, but he’ll probably have 30 when it’s all said and done.
“Probably one of the most athletic kids we’ve ever had, only about 6-foot tall, but extremely athletic.”
Card showed some of that same type of athleticism shining in relief of Baldwin at AT&T Stadium, throwing for 3 touchdowns and rushing for another after being pressed into duty after the shocking first snap of the game. With two years of eligibility left, there will be plenty of interest in the next starting quarterback at a school that has sent eight in a row to the FBS level — and Baldwin has already publicly declared that Card has the potential to be “the best quarterback to come through Lake Travis.”
Surely it would be worth watching a few dozens punts in order to see that up close.
“It was a great high school, one of my first experiences down there,” Meyer said. “That’s as good a football as there is in the United States of America.”
And Meyer has first-hand knowledge now that Lake Travis can play a little special teams, too.