For several members of the 2012 recruiting class, it began with a 56-10 victory over Miami University on September 1, 2012, in Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer’s first game as Ohio State’s head coach in Ohio Stadium. True freshmen such as Joshua Perry, Jacoby Boren, Michael Thomas, Tommy Schutt, Taylor Decker, and Adolphus Washington all participated, albeit as backups in mop-up time, for a team coming off a 6-7 season in 2011. Cam Williams, a highly-touted recruit, contributed later in the season against Alabama-Birmingham, as a special teams coverage player. These were recruited players who signed on for a team that was going to be denied a bowl berth at the end of the 2012 season, despite the fact that these players signed in 2012 had absolutely nothing to do with the transgressions that led to the penalty.
Some of the players who helped to contribute to Coach Meyer’s tremendous 2012 season were players who signed to play for former Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel, battled through the tumultuous 2011 season under interim Ohio State Head Coach Luke Fickell, and were strong enough to stay during the transition to Coach Meyer. The most dynamic of these players was Braxton Miller, but Miller was joined in the 2012 season by classmates such as Bryce Haynes, Nick Vannett, Chase Farris, and Joel Hale.
Even though 2012 was an undefeated season, Coach Meyer knew that reinforcements were desperately needed to effectively transform the Buckeyes into the type of team that would be capable of challenging for B1G Conference championships – national championships were still too far to contemplate. In February 2013, players such as Joey Bosa, Vonn Bell, and Ezekiel Elliott were among those who signed with the Buckeyes and played during the 2013 season; much to Coach Meyer’s chagrin, so many of the talented players were regrettably redshirted in 2013.
During the 2013 season, assistance came in the form of some of the 2012 redshirted players, such as Warren Ball on special teams. Remember that Ball verballed to Coach Tressel, stayed with his commitment during 2011 under Coach Fickell, and was willing to help the team, even in a reduced manner, under Coach Meyer. It could be argued that one of the biggest contributions from the 2012 class came when most needed and most unexpected, as Tyvis Powell, a safety who redshirted in 2012, came up with an interception to preserve a victory in Ann Arbor over That Team Up North in 2013. Powell was the first player to verbal to Ohio State and Coach Fickell after Coach Tressel resigned in May 2011.
In 2014, several of those talented but redshirted freshmen from the 2013 recruiting class were ready and eager to contribute on the field for the Buckeyes. Jalin Marshall, Eli Apple, and Darron Lee seemingly came out of nowhere to play prominently. A former Georgia Tech scholarship player, who chose to walk-on at Ohio State, by the name of Jeff Greene contributed on special teams. Perhaps the biggest contribution came from arguably the most unheralded player from either the 2012 or 2013 classes, a player Urban Meyer seemingly did not want, by the name of Cardale Jones.
In 2015, a player named Jack Willoughby decided to end his collegiate career as a Buckeye, after a successful four year career for Duke. Even though Willoughby had not taken nearly as long of a road as so many others within the program, Willoughby’s contributions were tremendously appreciated by the coaching staff, his new teammates, and the Buckeye faithful.
There are so many memories from this group of Buckeyes, from the 2012 season until the 2015 season. Fifty wins over a four year span, equaling a record held by Boise State. I feel at a loss for words, so I will simply write…