During Jim Tressel's tenure as Ohio State's head coach from 2001 through 2011, keeping the top players in the state of Ohio was paramount to Ohio State's recruiting strategies. Throughout the decade, only a few Ohio players that Ohio State offered went elsewhere - Jeff Backes went to Northwestern in 2002. Shawn Crable and Prescott Burgess went to Michigan in 2003. Brady Quinn went to Notre Dame in 2003. Michael Massey went to Michigan in 2004. Mario Manningham went to Michigan in 2005. Justin Boren went to Michigan in 2006, but came to his senses following the 2007 season and transferred to Ohio State for the remainder of his career.
Coach Urban Meyer has maintained the philosophy of identifying and targeting the top players in the state of Ohio, but has not offered scholarships to as many Ohio players as the previous regime would have. Many of these players will go on to play in The Big Ten, and elsewhere throughout the country.
This two-part series will examine the players who scaled around the figurative Ohio wall to go to other programs. I will rate the position groups based on areas of Ohio State's needs as I perceive them, as well as offer thoughts on whether these Ohio players will come back to haunt the Buckeyes in seasons to come. I hope you enjoy it.
5. Running Back (Honorable Mention category): I am listing this category as an honorable mention, because technically the player I am most concerned about is not from Ohio, but from the state of Virginia. Let me explain further.
RB DeVeon Smith of Warren Howland was offered a scholarship by Ohio State, but never truly considered the Buckeyes. Considering the glut of running backs Ohio State has for 2013 (Carlos Hyde, Jordan Hall, Rod Smith, Bri'onte Dunn, and the redshirted Warren Ball), as well as probable signee Ezekiel Elliott of Missouri, Ohio State is loaded at the position.
The running back I am concerned about missing out on? RB Derrick Green of Virginia.
Green recently gave a verbal commitment to Michigan, and should be a contributor as a freshman. Why am I concerned, if the running back position is so loaded?
Because Green grew up an Ohio State fan, idolizing former Buckeye Eddie George. Green wears #27, in honor of George. Green could be a throwback to the way Bo Schembechler used to build offenses during his tenure as Michigan's head coach.
While Ezekiel Elliott may be a perfect fit for Coach Meyer's offense, a big bruising back like Green represents what Big Ten football is usually associated with during the blustery fall games in late November. Ohio State fans will have to trust that Coach Meyer and his staff chose wisely by focusing on Elliott versus Green at this position.
4. Quarterback: Ohio State has landed Texas QB J.T. Barrett at this position. Barrett has already enrolled at Ohio State, and will probably redshirt during the 2013 season. Barrett sustained a serious knee injury during his senior season, which will keep him out of contact drills during upcoming spring drills at Ohio State.
The Ohio quarterbacks Ohio State missed out on, by focusing on Barrett? Mitch Trubisky of Mentor and Malik Zaire of Kettering.
Both quarterbacks were offered scholarships by Ohio State, but neither were truly sought in high demand by the Buckeyes. Zaire has already enrolled at Notre Dame, while Trubisky will sign with North Carolina.
Why do I rate this position low in terms of concern? Because Ohio State will only face these Ohio players in a bowl game. Throw in the fact that Braxton Miller has two years of eligibility, Kenny Guiton, Jr. has one year of eligibility, plus Cardale Jones has four years, and you can understand why Ohio State can focus upon J.T. Barrett's rehab at a casual pace this coming season.
Part two of this series will focus upon the three position areas, as well as Ohio players who are going elsewhere, that could impact the Buckeyes for seasons to come.