One YouTube video will tell you a certain city in Ohio is “the place where there used to be industry” and that its “main export is crippling depression.”
Don’t let that, or the statistics, fool you. Ohio, as a whole, is actually capable of keeping people in state. Well, at least its athletes.
National Signing Day makes me think of just how important the in-state products are to Buckeye sports.
Much has been made of Jim Tressel’s ability to recruit in Ohio. He rarely lets a high-profile recruit slip out of state. When he does, though, it’s not to Michigan, which might as well be the Mongolians to Tressel’s “Great Wall of Ohio.”
Letting Michigan dip into Ohio for recruits was a criticism of the John Cooper era. Though he was a phenomenal recruiter otherwise, few forget he let “that school up north” steal two Heisman Trophy winners. 1991 Heisman winner Desmond Howard is a Cleveland native, and ’97 winner Charles Woodson is from Fremont.
For 2011, the Buckeyes missed out on the top linebacker in the state, Trey DePriest, and the top lineman, Aundrey Walker. But, of the top 16 recruits in Ohio, according to Scout.com, nine committed to the Buckeyes.
Though Ohio is the birthplace of football, its contributions to its flagship university’s basketball program cannot be forgotten.
Eight of the 12 players on the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes are from Ohio. These aren’t BJ Mullens-level scrubs either. The entire starting lineup is from Ohio.
Two Indiana guys, Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr., led the 2006-07 Buckeyes to the Final Four — but key players, including Ron Lewis, Jamar Butler, Ivan Harris, Daequan Cook and David Lighty are from Ohio. The basketball talent coming out of Ohio isn’t consistently as great as that of football, but coach Thad Matta still recognizes the Buckeye state is an area he needs to focus on when recruiting. Much like Tressel, Matta has successfully locked down in-state talent.
Sure, OSU doesn’t have to compete much against other in-state schools, such as Ohio University or Cincinnati (Bob Huggins isn’t walking, or stumbling, through that door). Yet, the fact that other schools in the region haven’t considerably plucked away at Ohio’s talent is remarkable.
Some OSU athletes will tell you they have been Buckeyes “since birth.” That’s a testament to the success of Tressel’s and Matta’s coaching staffs, because that never changed in many recruits’ minds.