Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has championed recruiting. The Buckeye program has been known for recruiting and receiving commits from the state’s top football talents. Meyer, however, has done that and taken the program to new heights in recruiting across the country. His second-ranked 2017 class is a perfect example with the most out-of-state signees since he joined OSU.
Eight of OSU’s nine early-enrollees were available to the media on Wednesday after team workouts. Here are three stories from National Signing Day.
Meyer’s best class adds Munford
Five five-star, 14 four-star and two three-star recruits make up what many consider to be Meyer’s greatest recruiting class not just at OSU, but in his entire coaching career. The class had the most five-star signees in Meyer’s time at OSU. Twelve of the 21 new Buckeyes are ranked in the top five of their respective positions.
The Buckeyes became richer on Wednesday with the addition of four-star offensive tackle Thayer Munford.
The 21 players in the 2017 class are the fewest Meyer has ever had, but there’s reason for celebrating given the talent he brought in from across the nation, including the state of Texas. However, only 33 percent of the class came from the state of Ohio, which is not enough, Meyer said.
“50 percent is kind of the mark that I’ve been trying to (meet). I keep it right in front of me and I stare at it and make sure that we’re doing right,” Meyer said. “I’m glad it worked out with Thayer. We had another spot saved if we wanted to go after an Ohio guy and it just didn’t materialize.”
There were no surprises for OSU on Signing Day. Munford actually committed to the Buckeyes a couple days before, Meyer said. OSU targets Marvin Wilson and Jay Tufele signed with Florida State and University of Southern California, respectively.
Now with 90 players on scholarship, counting sophomore punter Drue Chrisman who paid his own way in 2016, the Buckeyes have to cut down to 85 players by fall camp.
Defensive backs ready
The OSU defensive back class is second to none. And that’s a good thing.
With the early departures of cornerbacks Gareon Conley, Marshon Lattimore and safety Malik Hooker to the NFL draft, OSU had to replace its three key members in the secondary. However, Meyer is confident that the recruits in the secondary will help immediately.
Jeffrey Okudah and Shaun Wade are the top two cornerbacks of the 2017 class and both could see the field immediately. Those two, cornerback Marcus Williamson and safety Isaiah Pryor enrolled early to get a leg up on the open positions.
Wade was the Gatorade National Player of the Year. He and Okudah are taller than most cornerbacks in college, both at 6-foot-1, but have a similar size to former OSU cornerbacks Lattimore and Conley, who will all be in the NFL next season.
“I know a spot is open,” Okudah said. “It’s all about competition and I know the best two corners will get on that field. It’s just whatever I make of it.”
Wade and Okudah are in the running to start alongside junior cornerback Denzel Ward, who will likely have one of the starting positions in 2017. But the No. 1 junior college cornerback signee Kendall Sheffield has already had the college experience at Alabama, which qualifies him for the starting job.
Brendon White’s position
One of the few Ohio players in this class is Brendon White. He doesn’t have a true position right now, but is arguably the most versatile player in the class. His position is designated “athlete,” but he thinks of himself as a receiver.
Meyer told White this offseason that the unexpected early departure of wide receiver Noah Brown left a spot for White. He has been playing on both sides of the ball in workouts and said he likes the comparisons of Darron Lee at linebacker and Michael Thomas at receiver.
“It definitely helps (being versatile) because it helps coaches know that I can play different positions,” White said. “If I struggle at wide receiver, I can go to linebacker. If I struggle at linebacker, I can go to safety.”
On top of that, White has deep ties in his family to OSU and expressed his interest of becoming a captain in his time at OSU. He has started to do that within the freshman class having been with the team during bowl practice.
“When they first got here and the first move-in day was Jan. 9, I told them this warm-up they were about to do was going to be hard,” White said. “After the end of the warm-up, they thought that was our workout and so I was like, ‘We got way more than this.’ We’re doing better now.”