February 2, 2012

Meyer tackles depth issues

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Arguably the biggest recruiting hurdle that was put in front of Urban Meyer after taking the Ohio State head coaching job was finding offensive tackles. Meyer inherited a roster that left something to be desired at the offensive tackle position and a recruiting class that did not have a single tackle on the commitment list. Immediately, Meyer went to work.

“The day I was hired, we came back here, got to work, said, let's pick out the top offensive tackles in America, because that's where we're at as far as our shortage,” said Meyer. “That night we were on the phone. If you would have told me we got the top two guys, that would have been a good day for us. We got the top two guys. That was Taylor Decker and Kyle Dodson.”

Compounding Meyer’s problem when he took the job was the fact that the top three tackles in the state of Ohio were all locked up to other Midwest programs at the time. Meyer immediately reached out to all three, with Michigan commit Kyle Kalis holding firm to his commitment, but after hiring former Notre Dame assistant coaches Tim Hinton and Ed Warinner, the momentum began to swing on Decker.

“Taylor Decker recruited us,” Meyer explained. “He called me and said, ‘I want to be a Buckeye’. Whoa, what are you talking about? Then his high school coach called us said, ‘he wants to come to Ohio State’.”

With two of the three blue-chip tackles now out of play, Meyer was able to put his full effort into Dodson.

“I think we had to have him,” Meyer said of Dodson. “I don't think, I know we did. Where we're at right now at offensive tackle, depth at line, our sheer numbers, that was a must have. I would almost trade him for any other player that we signed. We had to have him. You get the two offensive tackles that three weeks ago it didn't look like we were even in the running, and the body types are exact. God created two offensive tackles for us. That's exactly what we go look for. Big, athletic guys that can block second-level defenders.”

In the cases of both Dodson and Decker, Meyer credited the roles of the head coaches of the two four-star prospects.

“I'd say this class more than any class I've dealt with in the last decade, the high school coach was paramount in the decision-making process,” he said. “I'm going back to Dodson, Taylor Decker. The kids especially in this state, the high school coach is strong in the state of Ohio, I mean strong. To know they're involved, that they have a great love for this university, that was powerful.”

Meyer has always had a reputation as a relentless recruiter that recruited prospects all the way until National Signing Day and has flipped more than his fair share of prospects that were committed to other schools. Still, Meyer said that trying to flip these prospects isn’t really how he approaches the situation.

“Is it gratifying to take a guy from another school? Not at all,” Meyer said. “Is it gratifying to know we got the two offensive tackles that we went out in November or December, when we first got here, that night on the videotape, we want those two, get them on the phone, bang, now they're part of our class. I mean, that amazed me. I didn't think that could happen.”

Though Meyer may not take any added pleasure in landing prospects that were previously committed to other programs, he won’t deny his love of recruiting and his passion for trying to secure the nation’s best talent.

“I love it,” Meyer said of recruiting. “To say I enjoy getting on a plane and flying the redeyes and all this, I probably would be lying to you. Enjoying that I know I have 6'6", 6'8" offensive tackles where we need them is every bit worth it. Love that part of it.”


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