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Urban Meyer assembles ‘dream’ team

Chelsea Castle / Managing editor

During his introductory press conference on Nov. 29, new Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer said football teams in the Southeastern Conference were “hot,” both on the field and the recruiting trail.

Meyer has yet to coach a single game for the Buckeyes, but as far as recruiting is concerned, Meyer is white hot.

During OSU’s National Signing Day press conference Wednesday, the finishing touches of the Buckeyes’s 2012 recruiting class, regarded by multiple media outlets as a top-rated class in the country, were revealed. Meyer disregarded immediate evaluation and rankings of the class, but one expert called Meyer a “dangerous” recruiter, adding that he had assembled a “dream class.”

Meyer lauded the effort of his coaches and said “(Wednesday) was a great day for Ohio State.”

“I’m very pleased with the work ethic our (coaches) showed,” Meyer said. “Very impressive to pull that class together. (It) was a very selfless approach to close this kind of recruiting class on such short notice.”

The 25-man class includes 16 Ohioans, according to an OSU release. The class is also comprised of two five-star recruits and 14 four-star recruits, according to Rivals.com.

The rate at which players were committing to the Buckeyes was so rapid that OSU football spokesman Jerry Emig re-released an updated version of the team’s commit list just minutes after distributing it for the first time.

During his opening remarks, Meyer mentioned six players by name, adding that he could have spoken at length about each of his commits.

Meyer first mentioned three defensive ends — Cincinnati, Ohio, native Adolphus Washington, Harrisburg, Pa., native Noah Spence and Canton, Ohio, native Se’Von Pittman — calling Pittman and Spence the “prize of the recruiting class.”

“According to … the coaches that were on the previous (OSU) staff, defensive line was very critical this year,” Meyer said. “I think we signed three guys in the top 100 (in the nation).”

Meyer also singled out linebacker Jamal Marcus, a Durham, N.C., native, and offensive linemen Taylor Decker and Kyle Dodson, natives of Vandalia and Cleveland, Ohio, respectively.

Dodson announced he would join the Buckeyes at Cleveland Heights High School Wednesday afternoon, and Meyer said he was very happy to receive Dodson’s paperwork.

“I almost would have traded (for Dodson over) any other player we’ve signed,” Meyer said.

Those six players Meyer mentioned are just part of a 25-man class currently ranked No. 3 by Scout.com, No. 4 by Rivals.com and No. 6 by ESPN.

Meyer said he did not want to call this the best class in OSU history, nor a “home run,” but rankings of national media outlets certainly suggest Meyer has succeeded with his 2012 recruits.

Kevin Noon, the managing editor of Buckeyegrove.com, said Meyer’s first recruiting venture since leaving the University of Florida after its bowl game in early 2011 was a success.

“While (Meyer) may want to sit there and hold off and reserve judgement until he sees these guys, as an analyst … this is a dream class that he was able to put together,” Noon said. “What makes it even more amazing is just the brevity of time he had to work on putting this class together. It just shows what the Meyer brand means, and what the Ohio State brand means. When you put them together, it’s very dangerous for other programs when you’re going against him.”

This year’s class was one of the best in the country, even in the face of the NCAA’s Dec. 19 announcement that the program would be banned from postseason competition in 2012 and be stripped of nine scholarships during the next three seasons.

In an exclusive Jan. 22 interview with The Lantern, Meyer said a bowl ban was unfamiliar territory.

“I’ve never been banned from a bowl game. This is all new for me,” Meyer said.

The ban turned out to be a minor bump in the road, Rivals.com Midwest recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt told The Lantern on .

“Honestly, it was a minor bump that they navigated easily and moved past very quickly,” Helmholdt said. “(Meyer) masterfully maneuvered around that issue and it doesn’t seem to have affected them at all.”

As for the strategy applied while recruiting the newest Buckeyes, Meyer said Wednesday that it’s about work ethic.

“It’s uncovering who the champions are for each young man that you’re recruiting,” he said. “But most of all it’s a belief in the place you’re at and knowledge of the place you’re at.”


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