COLUMBUS, Ohio — Earlier this week, 4-star safety Jaiden Woodbey committed to Ohio State, becoming the third prospect in the 2018 recruiting cycle to pledge his allegiance to the Buckeyes.
With that, the 2018 recruiting cycle in Columbus was officially underway.
After signing a historic haul on National Signing Day earlier this month, Urban Meyer is hopeful he’ll maintain his momentum on the recruiting trail in what will be one of the more important recruiting classes in his time at Ohio State.
In attempting to do so, Meyer and his staff have plenty to sell. With that in mind, let’s take a look at Ohio State’s top recruiting pitches to prospects as it puts together its 2018 class.
5. Facilities facelift
On National Signing Day earlier this month, reporters were forced to take a detour in order to attend Meyer’s press conference.
That’s because what was formerly known as the Biggs Lobby is under construction as a part of renovations to Ohio State’s Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
“Make no mistake,” Meyer said on his signing day call-in show. “It’s an arms race.”
And the Buckeyes are doing their best to keep pace.
Late last year, the Ohio State board of trustees approved a $43 million renovation to the WHAC, as well as a $39.1 million upgrade to Ohio Stadium. According to Ohio State, the renovations at the WHAC will feature “a state-of-the-art athletic training center, weight training and cardio conditioning, athletic offices, and nutrition, dining and production kitchens to allow student athletes to receive meals and snacks.”
It’s unlikely that any prospect will choose to become a Buckeye based solely on the quality of the football facility. But in today’s day and age of college football, Ohio State isn’t about to leave that to chance.
4. Playing time aplenty
In 2017, the Buckeyes roster will feature no fewer than 13 scholarship seniors and potentially a handful of juniors who could be prepared to play their final seasons in Columbus.
That’s become par for the course for the Buckeyes, who lost nine early entrants to the NFL a year ago and six at the end of the 2016 campaign. But even more so than usual, Ohio State will be looking to reload its roster in 2018.
At the very least, the Buckeyes will be replacing a starting quarterback, two starting offensive linemen, four defensive linemen and a safety from its upcoming starting lineup. Suffice to say, playing time will be available at Ohio State in 2018.
And that could be appealing to prospects hoping to get on the field early in their college careers.
3. Urban Meyer’s 61-6 record
Sure, the Buckeyes are coming off an embarrassing 31-0 defeat at the hands of Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal Fiesta Bowl. And the Ohio State passing attack did falter down the stretch, leading to dramatic changes on the coaching staff entering 2016.
But Meyer’s resume over the course of his first five years at Ohio State speaks for itself. The Buckeyes have compiled a 61-6 record under the watch of their current coach, never losing more than two games in a single season.
In the first three years of the playoff era, Ohio State is one of three teams to have made two appearances in the postseason format. With quarterback J.T. Barrett back for his senior season, the Buckeyes should remain in contention for a third in the coming year.
Success on the field typically has a way of trickling to the recruiting trail. With another big year in 2017, another impressive class in 2018 will likely follow.
2. Ohio State’s 2016 and 2017 classes
Earlier this month, Meyer compared the construction of his current roster to an Oreo cookie.
The Buckeyes are strong at the top and bottom of their roster, but soft in the middle due to an underperforming 2015 class.
While Meyer will need to get the most out of his class in the coming year to produce the highest possible results, it’s telling that he’s already willing to speak of his two most recent classes in such glowing terms. In 2016, freshmen Nick Bosa, Michael Jordan and Demario McCall showed plenty of promise. And already this offseason, early enrollees Baron Browning, Jeffrey Okudah and J.K. Dobbins have turned heads in winter workouts.
The solid foundation of the Buckeyes roster should serve as one of Meyer’s primary recruiting tools in the coming months. If that pitch doesn’t work, Ohio State could wind up with another Oreo-type roster on its hands.
1. The NFL
April 28, 2016, marked the Buckeyes’ biggest recruiting boon since Meyer arrived in Columbus in 2011. Five ex-Ohio State players were selected in the first round of the NFL draft that day, with seven more ex-Buckeyes going on to be picked over the course of the next two days.
Some called it the greatest NFL class from a single school in modern history and it would be tough to argue that it didn’t live up to the hype. Ezekiel Elliott put together one of the best rookie seasons ever for a running back, Joey Bosa won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award and Michael Thomas topped the 1,000-yard receiving mark.
Surely, the Buckeyes push all of that on the recruiting trail, right?
“Ya think?” Meyer said on signing day.
With Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley possessing the potential to add to Ohio State’s first-round resume this spring, the Buckeyes’ NFL-centric recruiting pitch will only expand. Few schools in the country can pitch their ability to put players in the pros as confidently as Ohio State can.
Now it’s up to Meyer and his staff to continue to replace them.