Urban Meyer has already solidified his status as one of college football’s truly elite recruiters.
Whether it was at Utah—where he unearthed diamond-in-the-rough players like Alex Smith; or at Florida—where he consistently reeled in elite prospects on an annual basis; or at Ohio State—where he’s put together three-straight top-5 recruiting classes, every stop of Meyer’s career, Meyer has proven that not only does he have a great eye for talent, he also has the ability to sell himself and his program in a way that few other current coaches in the game can.
Given Meyer’s reputation as a renowned recruiter, it seemed almost silly that, not all that long ago, there were some grumblings and restlessness concerning Ohio State’s 2015 recruiting class. Going into the month of July, the Buckeyes had received just 10 commitments for the 2015 class, none of which were from top-100 prospects.
Admittedly, early on, the team’s 2015 class didn’t initially appear to be shaping up to be another heralded haul. However, those perceptions have completely changed now that Meyer has reeled in commitments from two blue-chip defenders: 5-star LB Justin Hilliard out of Cincinnati’s St. Xavier High School, and 4-star DE Jashon Cornell out of Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Hilliard and Cornell are both ranked as top-100 recruits, and both are considered to be premier prospects at their respective positions.
Hilliard, who totaled 76 tackles in just seven games of action as a junior, had Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame and many other prestigious programs all chasing him. But ultimately, the 6’2’’, 230-pound Ohio native felt that the Buckeyes were the right program for him.
In an interview with Rivals, he said, “Me and my parents sat down and talked about everything. We looked over the three big things I was looking for and that was getting a great education, where I feel comfortable and where I can win a national championship. We all came together on Ohio State.”
Cornell, who racked up 15 sacks and 20 tackles for loss as a junior, also spoke of his appreciation of what Ohio State has to offer both academically and athletically.
“One thing about Ohio State, they are a state school but they are one of the top (academic) schools in the country. Then, football-wise, they are a great football team too.”
Both Hilliard and Cornell look like they are going to develop into future impact players for Luke Fickell’s defense. But their commitments also have a huge short-term impact on the program. They’ve added some star power and some serious legitimacy to the 2015 class, and they’ve given the Buckeyes some much-needed recruiting momentum as the start of the season inches closer.
With high-profile prospects like Hilliard and Cornell on board, the Ohio State coaching staff can now turn its attention to other blue-chip targets. It also doesn’t hurt that Hilliard has talked about pitching in and trying to convince other recruits to join him in Columbus.
“I think we can easily be a top 3 class. Hopefully me and the other guys can get together and recruit some more guys.”
4-Star ATH Jerome Baker, another top-100 prospect, is the next highly touted player who could potentially pledge his services to the program. The Cleveland native, who lists the Buckeyes in his final “Top Eight” schools, will announce his decision on July 11th.
Still, Baker is just one of the many top-100 prospects that Meyer and his staff are working hard to land. 5-star DE Josh Sweat, 5-star LB Malik Jefferson, 5-star QB Torrance Gibson, 5-star RB Damien Harris and 4-star WR Christian Kirk are just a few of the big-name uncommitted recruits that have shown interest in Ohio State.
With National Signing Day still seven months away, the Buckeyes’ 2015 class is still far from etched in stone. Nevertheless, the addition of blue-chip defenders like Hilliard and Cornell has at least temporarily alleviated the fear that the 2015 class wasn’t going to be up to Meyer’s usual standards.
Ohio State now has the recruiting momentum it needs to build another monster class for 2015.