January 17, 2012

Things shaping up on the OL

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For any Ohio State fans that didn't previously understand how quickly momentum can change in recruiting, consider yourselves educated. Since taking the job in late November, head coach Urban Meyer has dominated on the recruiting trail, landing some of the nation's premier prospects, many of which play positions of major need on the current Ohio State roster.

It wasn't very long ago that there was a level of near panic in Buckeye Nation over the status of recruiting, particularly along the offensive line. The Buckeyes had early commitments from three-star prospects Pat Elflein and Jacoby Boren but with both projecting on the interior of the offensive line, the concerns remained about overall depth and numbers, specifically at the tackle position.

Though the offensive tackle position is not something that can be patched up in one recruiting class, it has clearly been made a priority by Meyer and his new staff. Shortly after taking the head coaching job, Meyer put out feelers to many of the top offensive linemen in the nation. Of course, not all of the prospects that were targeted were receptive to what Meyer had to say but the results are beginning to speak for themselves as the Buckeyes have landed two highly regard offensive line prospects in the last 48 hours.

The first, and literally the biggest, domino to fall was that of four-star Vandalia (Ohio) Butler offensive tackle Taylor Decker. The 6-foot-8, 313-pound prospect ended the process early when he committed to Notre Dame back in the spring. With absolutely no prior indication that Ohio State was getting back into the race, Meyer quickly went to work on Decker after taking the job.

Aided by a pair of former Notre Dame assistant coaches in Ed Warinner and Tim Hinton, Meyer was able to get Decker on campus for an official visit over the weekend, where he sealed the deal. The commitment of Decker is an important one for Ohio State as the only true offensive tackle on the roster heading into next season was junior-to-be Andrew Norwell.

Meyer didn't stop with Decker, however, as just a little more than a day later he landed four-star guard Joey O'Connor out of Windsor (Colo.). O'Connor had previously been committed to Penn State but opened his recruitment up after the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke. While guard/center isn't as big of a need as tackle, Meyer has clearly understood the importance of numbers along the offensive line.

If Meyer has his way, these won't be the last two outstanding linemen to pick the Buckeyes as the pursuit of four-star tackles Kyle Dodson and Jordan Diamond continues. Dodson, a Wisconsin commit, recently made an official visit to USC and is considering the Badgers and Trojans along with Ohio State and Auburn. Dodson has done a good job of not dropping hints as to where he is leaning but many feel that Ohio State is the favorite to ultimately land his services.

For Diamond, everything appears to be open. Ohio State was the first school to land an official visit and set the bar extremely high. Since that visit, Diamond has had glowing things to say about his trips to Auburn and Michigan. The 6-foot-6, 289-pounder of Chicago (Ill.) Simeon still has official visits planned to both Arkansas and Wisconsin in the next two weeks and is expected to make his college decision on February 3rd.

With room for at least one, and possibly two, tackles in the class, Meyer and company will put the full court press on Diamond and Dodson down the stretch. The days of under-recruiting along the offensive line at Ohio State appear to be over.


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