Two of the biggest story lines to emerge early in the 2014 class have been the recruiting efforts in Georgia and Michigan.
Evidence of these exploits can already be seen in the surprise commitment of MI DB Damon Webb and the ‘mega Georgia recruiting weekend’ (TM) currently scheduled to start on February 8th.
First, let’s look at Michigan.
As mentioned, the commitment of Damon Webb was a big surprise for pretty much everyone.
He hails from Cass Tech in Detroit, which has been “Michigan’s Glenville” in terms of a recruiting pipeline.
For some hilarity, check out a maize (sun?) and blue corner of the internet for reactions to Webb’s commitment.
While this recruitment will almost certainly extend all the way to signing day, I am fairly confident that the philosopher king won’t be able to persuade a player that has bought in to what Ohio State has to offer.
Webb’s early decision is clearly a big deal and a fantastic surprise to start the 2014 class, but Ohio State’s efforts up north could go much deeper than pulling off one major upset.
Not content with just upsetting the faithful in Ann Arbor, Urban Meyer set his sights on East Lansing as well by recently extending an offer to currently committed Spartan MI WR Drake Harris.
Harris is a stand out on the hardwood and gridiron who says he is now very interested in Ohio State after deciding to focus on football at the next level. He plans to visit Columbus sometime in the near future.
Needless to say, Spartan fans aren’t taking that news very well either (check out the comments in the “very interested” linked article).
Although it looks like a down year for in-state talent, the parity is highly unusual.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it is important to remember that there is no guarantee any of these players will ultimately be Buckeyes. There is a long, long way to go before signing day.
That said, it is very clear that the staff is placing a high priority on recruiting the top prospects from north of the border.
It is highly enjoyable watching their fans, whose programs would be nothing without constantly poaching Ohio talent, squirm as they are given a taste of their own medicine.
Michigan classes are not nearly as deep as in Ohio, which makes the possibility of losing their top home-grown talent that much more damaging for their schools.
Next up is Georgia.
Anyone who has looked at the 2014 recruiting board probably noticed the large number of Georgia players with offers (or not, there are already a ton of names to sift through).
There are also plenty of offers to players from all the usual powerhouse states like Florida and Texas as well.
At first glance, the numbers alone may seem unremarkable.
However, what sets the peach state apart is not only the large number of players who have offers, but how much they are openly talking about their mutual interest in Ohio State.
All the proof you need is the previously mentioned mega Georgia recruiting weekend.
The players currently planning on traveling to Columbus are:
QB DeShaun Watson (arguably the #1 QB on the board)
The staff is getting in the game very early with these players and you can’t start an OOS recruitment off any better than getting them on campus so soon.
The chances are high that those players will return home with positive things to say about their visit to other targeted players (which is probably the whole idea at this point).
That group doesn’t even include LB Raekwon McMillan, who has already been to Columbus. He is regarded by most as a heavy Buckeye lean and quite possibly the main force inspiring interest in Ohio State from his in-state peers.
Other early offers in Georgia are OL Orlando Brown Jr., RB Chris Williams, DL Andrew Williams, DL Lorenzo Carter, DL Elisha Shaw, DB Kalvarez Bessent, DB Nick Glass (who was originally scheduled to visit for the mega weekend) and LB Kevin Mouhon.
Needless to say, that’s a lot of players who will have plenty of time to continue talking about being Buckeyes together.
At the point, I would be surprised if Ohio State didn’t land at least a few of those players, and quite possibly more than a few.
While it is hard to say (outside of McMillan) who exactly those players will be, it is safe to say that Ohio State is on track to land a very talented group of players from Georgia in the 2014 class.
In a year that looks to be relatively thin on in-state talent, Urban Meyer and his staff have clearly wasted no time identifying some top prospects from outside state lines.
Two of the primary focuses thus far have been Michigan and Georgia, but there are plenty of elite targets from across the country to choose from.
It should prove to be another outstanding class which will be fun to see come together over the next year.