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New Ohio State coach Urban Meyer off and running on recruiting trail

Chelsea Castle / Managing editor for content

Now that Urban Meyer has been confirmed as Ohio State’s next head football coach, he’ll turn his attention to the recruiting trail.

Meyer will take the reigns on a 2012 recruiting class currently ranked No. 14 by Scout.com and not ranked in the top 25 by ESPN. The class is led by five-star defensive end Adolphus Washington and five-star running back Bri’onte Dunn.

Meyer made it known during his introductory press conference Monday that he was going to put a heavy focus on recruiting, even saying he was looking forward to recruiting the state of Ohio and making calls to recruits soon after the press conference was over.

“I can’t wait to get back involved in that,” he said.

Meyer, who was called an “outstanding recruiter” by OSU athletic director Gene Smith in Monday’s press conference, has a history of raking in highly ranked recruiting classes.

Meyer’s recruiting classes from 2005-2010 at Florida were ranked No. 15, No. 2, No, 1, No. 3, No. 11 and No. 2, respectively, according to Rivals.com.

Steve Helwagen, managing editor of Bucknuts.com, said Meyer might be able to salvage a top-10 class by National Signing Day, which is set for Feb. 1, 2012.

“He’s got a national name,” Helwagen said. “He’s right with (Alabama head coach) Nick Saban right now (as) probably the most famous college football coach out there. I think that’s going to open doors.”

Saban, for example, has garnered the fourth-ranked recruiting class for the Crimson Tide for 2012, according to Scout.com.

Still, Helwagen said it’s best to wait for 2013 for an elite recruiting class at OSU.

“I really wouldn’t get too wrapped out or worried about this class,” Helwagen said. “Where you’re going to see his impact is next year. My guess is he’ll have a top five class next year and probably stack one on top of another is my guess.”

Part of boosting the talent in those classes is pulling talent out of places Meyer locked down while at Florida.

That includes the state of Florida, which is known for its “SEC speed.”

Meyer said it will be tough to recruit the South, especially with powerhouses such as Alabama scooping up talent.

“The SEC is hot right now,” he said. “And I’ve recruited against Alabama as well. They’re hot. But so is Ohio State.”

Helwagen also said it might be difficult for Meyer to easily sign those players, but his history there will help him.

“It’s going to be more of a challenge to get some of those guys to come up to Ohio and play in the Big Ten but he’s got the ties back there in Florida to really go in there and try and get some good players,” he said.

Recruits have taken varying stances on Meyer’s hire.

Washington, who is out of Cincinnati Taft High School, committed to Ohio State Nov. 22 and told The Cincinnati Enquirer that he hoped Meyer would be his head coach.

Meanwhile, Canton GlenOak’s Dunn told The Repository Monday that he didn’t want to play in a spread offense, which Meyer will be implementing. Dunn has been wavering back and forth between OSU and Michigan, but tweeted Monday that he spoke with Meyer after the press conference.

Finding the athletes to transition from the “Tressel-ball” pro-style and I-formation offenses to a spread won’t be much of a problem recruiting-wise, Helwagen said.

“I don’t know that it will be as big a transition as some people think it might be,” he said. “I think he’ll play to his team’s strengths on the field next year and take it on a year-to-year basis. He and his staff are obviously going to be looking for guys who fit what they want to do.”

In fact, Helwagen said transitioning offensive schemes will have more positives than negatives.

“You’re talking about a coach who won two national championships in the last five years,” he said. “There aren’t many guys out there in coaching that can say they even have one.”

Some students said they looked forward to the kinds of prospects Meyer could bring to OSU.

Dustin Stinson, a third-year in sport and leisure studies, is interested to see if Meyer can lure some “Florida speed” to OSU.

“I think he’ll recruit speed,” he said. “I’m interested to see his Florida contacts and what he can bring from the speed state.”

Kyle Becker, a second-year in exploration, believes recruiting will be solid with current coach Luke Fickell still around. Fickell will remain on Meyer’s coaching staff next year, though his role is not yet known.

“Recruiting will jolt,” Becker said. “I think we need to keep Fickell because he is honestly a good defensive coach and I heard he is a good recruiter.”

David Gerad and William Hessler contributed to this story.

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