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Out of enemy lines: Detroit running back Mike Weber commits to Buckeyes over Wolverines

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Detroit Cass Tech High School then-junior running back Mike Weber (25) carries the ball during a game on Oct. 25, 2013 in Detroit.  Credit: Photo by Bryan Mitchell

Detroit Cass Tech High School then-junior running back Mike Weber (25) carries the ball during a game on Oct. 25, 2013 in Detroit.
Credit: Photo by Bryan Mitchell

Some believe that Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer is one of the best — if not the best — recruiters in the country.

But Meyer said he isn’t even the best recruiter in Columbus.

“(Sophomore running back) Ezekiel (Elliott) is our best recruiter,” Meyer said Wednesday.

Meyer went as far as to say that he did not think OSU’s final signing of the day, Detroit Cass Tech High School running back Mike Weber, would have signed had Elliott not made contact and discussed Buckeye football with Weber.

Elliott, who rushed for 1,878 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2014-15 for the Buckeyes, earned high praise from Meyer, who said he heard Elliott use the term “brother” when talking to Weber.

“Mike Weber is not at Ohio State without Ezekiel. I don’t think it happens, I don’t think, I know it doesn’t happen,” Meyer said. “I attribute it to, you believe in what you’re selling. A lot of momentum. And our players right now are bought in. That’s the cool thing. You walk in drills, you see the weight room and the attendance, it’s been great with (strength and conditioning) coach Marotti. There’s a lot of momentum in Ohio State.”

While Elliott might have been a deciding factor in persuading Weber to come to Columbus, it was special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs who was assigned to make the trips to Detroit to make the OSU pitch.

Coombs, who also played an integral role in signing freshman cornerback Damon Webb out of Cass Tech High School in last year’s class, said he encourages recruits to talk to current Buckeyes who are already on the roster.

“What we tell our recruits is, ‘You should spend your time talking to our players when we’re not around. You should ask them all the things that you want to know when we’re not around. And we will stand on what they say.’ And that is very valuable,” Coombs said Wednesday. “So when you have a kid like Damon Webb, his experience here (at OSU) is going to translate back home and I think it has been a positive experience, I think his family would tell you that. I think that is what they are sharing with the people at home.”

Weber, who was originally committed to the University of Michigan, rescinded his commitment when Brady Hoke was fired in November. He rushed for 2,268 yards on 224 carries with 29 touchdowns during his senior season.

Despite de-committing from the Wolverines, Coombs said it still was not easy bringing Weber out of enemy territory.

“To walk up to that conference center in the city of Detroit, to a sign board and sign your name to the Ohio State Buckeye paper, that’s a hard thing, and I admire them (out of state commits) for that,” Coombs said.

When Weber sent in that letter of intent to play at OSU, Coombs could only describe his excitement in one way.

“Euphoria. Euphoria. Yeah. Euphoria. I don’t know another word for that but it is really good,” Coombs said.

While Coombs said he does not coach the running back position, he worked “hand in hand” with Buckeye running backs coach Stan Drayton when recruiting Weber.

“At some point in time, recruiting changes from the ‘giving them information and attracting them to your program,’ to coaching them. And that’s where Stan takes over. All the conversation about how we are going to run inside zone and A-gap power, that’s his deal,” Coombs said. “How does he fit into the room and the culture of the room? That’s Stan’s deal. My deal is to present to the kid and his parents, his high school coach, all the myriad of benefits that he is going to receive from being an Ohio State Buckeye.”

Drayton said Wednesday that he believes Weber will fit right in with his current stable of running backs at OSU.

“We have a certain culture that we’re trying to maintain in our running backs room, and just because you can play football and run a fast 40 and score a touchdown doesn’t necessarily mean you fit that culture. And right away I knew Mike Weber was a cultural fit,” Drayton said. “He’s an unselfish player who cares about his teammates. He plays with unbelievable toughness and passion, and I hope that our backs are representing that right now because that’s exactly what we want in our room.”

The Buckeyes will find out if Weber fits into the running back room or not when OSU kicks off its 2015 season in Blacksburg, Va., against the Virginia Tech Hokies on Sept. 7.

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