It is now August. Ohio State, and college football programs all over the country, are turning focus away from the recruiting trail and swinging it to the team it will put on the field a month from now.
In Chicago, at the 2017 Big Ten Media Days gathering last Monday and Tuesday, Urban Meyer estimated that — from the months of January to August — he spends 70 percent of his coaching time on recruiting. Now that time is up, but that doesn’t mean recruiting stops, it just gets re-prioritized. In Columbus, with another national title shot firmly in view of the Buckeyes coaching staff, the dog days of summer on the recruiting trail are more about housekeeping than they are about prospect hunting.
What is August’s “to-do list” for Urban Meyer and Ohio State? I’ve created it for them, knowing they’re busy elsewhere.
Ohio State must lock down the border
This feels a bit weird to write, but it’s true: Urban Meyer needs to lock down Ohio.
No, I don’t mean the Buckeyes should fill the remaining spots in their 2018 class with Ohio-born players, but two in-state stars are close to deciding and Meyer’s staff has work to do with both.
Tyreke Smith does not have a decision date, and an announcement may not come this month. But if it does, Penn State remains a real threat to Ohio State. Smith also took a July visit to Southern Cal, and the Trojans are hoping to convince the California native to come back home for college.
Down in Huber Heights, Wayne High School 4-star wide receiver L’Christian Smith does have a decision date — Aug. 27 — and it’s a two-team race between the Buckeyes and the Kentucky Wildcats. In most cases, that would seem like a win for Ohio State, but months of uncertainty in the middle of Smith’s recruitment has given Kentucky a chance to pull off an almost impossible-to-conceive upset.
For August to be a success, Ohio State cannot lose one of the few in-state players it is aggressively recruiting.
The Buckeyes need to kick-start the 2019 recruiting class
There are a handful of names that could be the first guy to join the 2019 class, but whomever it is, someone can do so with a bang in August.
Huntington (W.V.) 4-star tackle Doug Nester is a top choice. He’s gone silent since making what many felt would be a decisive visit to Columbus for Friday Night Lights on July 21. If it’s not Nester, another name to watch (and we’ve all been doing it for months) is Ohio’s Cade Stover. The 4-star defensive end/linebacker has been forthright regarding his recruitment — Ohio State is his leader and he’ll likely pick the Buckeyes — but he’s been deliberate in his approach this summer, choosing to see a few other schools.
It’s not as though there’s a rush to get 2019 started, but as teams around you begin building momentum — Michigan brought in two top 150 kids in the Class of 2019 this past weekend — countering them is always good.
Lock in key official visits
August, with football starting on college and high school campuses around the country, lends itself to a serious decline in the number and quality of conversations coaches and prospects have. The fact is, people are just much busier than the previous months, and that means less time for pleasantries. When recruiters do chat with a player, or his coach, it needs to be about business, namely the business of “When are you coming to our school for an official visit?”
Ohio State has 16 commitments in its Class of 2018, but there are likely 8-9 more players still to join. Now is the time for the Buckeyes coaching staff to get the baddest dudes from around the country to commit … to an official visit. One size doesn’t fit all in these cases, as some high schools — like Jayson Oweh‘s — play every Saturday so it’s unreasonable to expect him to take an official until the Michigan State or Illinois games in November. Some teams have random bye weeks, but those need to line up with an Ohio State home game.
Nesta Silvera, Tyson Campbell and Nicholas Petit-Frere are among the players that are very high on the Buckeyes’ list. Ohio State will need to lock in visits from them if there’s any chance for the Buckeyes to sign them.
August, when vacation ends and mindsets flip back to business, is a good time to make that happen.