New Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer is paying attention to Stark County, where he may keep one recruit and steal one.
New Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer hit the recruiting trail running, and he hit it hard. Meyer is expected to make a visit to GlenOak High School soon and check on Golden Eagles running back Bri’onte Dunn. The two spoke by phone the night Meyer was officially introduced as OSU’s head coach.
And Meyer may steal another Stark County recruit. McKinley defensive end Se’Von Pittman, once a pretty solid Michigan State recruit, is taking a visit to Ohio State to chat with Meyer and look at the school.
McKinley head coach Ron Johnson said he believed Pittman was a pretty solid verbal for the Spartans, but the hiring of Meyer has extended beyond exciting OSU’s massive fan base.
“Both (Jermaine Edmondson also committed to Michigan State) have said they are solid,” Johnson said. “Nothing at Michigan State has changed. They committed to the coach up there and nothing has changed on those staffs.”
Johnson has a good approach to recruiting. Once a player verbally commits to a school, Johnson will periodically check in with that player to make sure that verbal commitment is still solid. When opposing coaches come through during the season, there is a limit on what Johnson will allow those coaches to do with players who already have committed.
One reason for committing early is to eliminate the recruiting distraction.
“We have the guys take their time and put a lot of thought into it,” Johnson said. “We give them a matrix and discuss whether it’s the right place. The hardest thing during this process is for a young man to say no to someone, because they develop a relationship with the recruiting coaches. Telling him I’ve committed somewhere else is difficult.
“It is the responsibility of the high school coach to make public he’s verbally committed and be that buffer. It’s unfair to put them in that position.”
During the season, Luke Fickell came to a game at Fawcett Stadium. Many people assumed it was to look at Pittman. That may be partially true, but Fickell was mostly allowed to look and get information on lineman Xzavier McAllister, a 6-foot-6, 325-pound junior.
There is a loyalty factor in coaching that is respected at McKinley. If Pittman had verbally committed to Ohio State, Buckeye coaches would appreciate it if Pittman wasn’t inundated weekly with visits from opposing Big Ten coaches.
“Last year with Steve Miller, when he committed to Ohio State ... you know how many times Lane Kiffin called? How many times Les Miles called?” Johnson said. “I check with the guys to make sure they’re still good. It is unfair for them to be bombarded their senior year if they committed early and don’t want that.”
Page 2 of 3 - BOTTOM LINE ON DUNN
Dunn has a difficult decision to make for an 18-year-old kid. Academically, either Ohio State or Michigan will serve him well. Football is where the question is.
The way I see it, Dunn’s decision is whether or not he wants to be a piece of a puzzle at Ohio State and probably be a part of something special in the next four years, or does he want to be the picture of the puzzle? Dunn probably won’t rush for 1,000 yards under Meyer because, first, no running back has in Meyer’s 10-year head coaching career, and, two, there will be plenty of options in the backfield there.
Meyer is a coaching rock star. He has charisma that commands attention. He will keep Dunn, who wore an Ohio State wristband all season, and he’ll steal Pittman away from Michigan State. That will give the Buckeyes, along with Devin Smith and Steve Miller, a strong Stark County flavor in the coming seasons.
Interest in McKinley quarterback Tyler Foster is picking up, but Stark County’s Player of the Year still doesn’t have an offer in hand. Louisville was in this past week to look at Foster and Kevin Mills, another lineman.
“Most of the MAC schools are, and Indiana is trying to get some things on him,” Johnson said. “We’ve got some guys who are starting to heat up a little.”
Akron has not been in on Foster. Of course, the Zips are in a holding pattern with a new coach coming in ... presumably.
Why does it seem as if official attendance numbers look lower than the amount of people in the stadiums for the OHSAA state title games? Officials at both Paul Brown Tiger Stadium and Fawcett Stadium don’t actually count the tickets. What is counted is the amount of money made on ticket sales of the games, and that number is divided by the cost of a ticket to get the official attendance.
Naturally, freebies are not included in that count then. From what I was told, the 6,600-plus for the Division V game at Massillon on Friday morning must have included a lot of complimentary tickets.
Mooney played its fourth game of the season at Fawcett Stadium during Friday’s Division III state title game. That’s just two less games than McKinley played there this season.
“In the big picture of things, it
doesn’t really matter where it’s at,” Mooney head coach P.J. Fecko said on a conference call this week. “It’s a football field, and you know that it’s going to be in good shape and all those kind of things. I think getting caught up in those kind of things is silly.”
Page 3 of 3 - No one is caught up in it, as much as it is an interesting fact. And perhaps in the future when the OHSAA schedules playoff games, it should not schedule two Division III playoff games at Fawcett when there’s another stadium 10 miles west of it.
“I believe it gives them somewhat of an advantage,” Shawnee coach Rick Meeks told the Springfield Sun-News. “They’ll have the comfort factor on their side. As we tell our kids, we don’t control that. We’re going to play where ever they tell us to.”
Despite having a three-hour trip to Fawcett, compared to Mooney’s hour-long drive, Shawnee fans represented well. Fittingly, Mooney fans sat on the home side at Fawcett.
Mooney takes an aggressive approach to scheduling. The Cardinals finished the regular season 6-3. Of the nine teams it played in the regular season, five made the playoffs. Red Lion Christian Academy in Delaware is not a part of its state’s athletic association, but finished at 7-3. Lake and Ursuline were the only two teams it played that weren’t playoff-caliber teams this year, though, Ursuline won a state title last year and Lake reached the state semifinals.
Fecko said his team will always take that approach, but he always wants a bye week built into the middle of the season to take a breath and heal.
That’s a smart move.
“I don’t imagine anyone is going to be beating down the door to play now,” Fecko said after Mooney won its eighth state title Friday.
Incidentally, Mooney’s eight state championships puts it second on the all-time football state titles list. Cleveland St. Ignatius had 10 going into Saturday night’s Division I championship game.
IN HER GENES
Hannah White, the daughter of former Massillon quarterback Erik White and his wife Holly, will participate today in the NFL’s punt, pass and kick contest at Cleveland Brown Stadium. She won her region and will take part in a competition this morning at the Browns training facility. She was ranked third in Ohio in the girls 8-9 division.
If she wins today, Hannah will represent the Browns in the national punt, pass and kick championships.
Hannah will be introduced at halftime of today’s game against the Ravens.
Erik White played for Massillon and then was Mid-American Conference Player of the Year at Bowling Green before getting invited to training camp with the Colts and having a career as a quarterback in the CFL.