Every year, Ohio State has one or two players on its wish list who haven’t made up their mind on the eve of national signing day. Tuesday night, there were five.
“That makes for a bad night for myself and our coaches,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said.
Meyer spent the night in his daughter’s room, which is empty now that she’s in college. He kept waiting for his phone to buzz with the latest update.
At 12:10 a.m., he found himself talking to running backs coach Stan Drayton about the status of Mike Weber, a running back from Detroit. About 12 hours later, the four-star prospect made his decision.
“I’m a Buckeye,” Weber wrote on Twitter.
Four other players whose intentions were unclear joined Ohio State’s 27-member recruiting class on Wednesday: wide receiver K.J. Hill, of North Little Rock, Ark.; offensive lineman Isaiah Prince, of Greenbelt, Md.; quarterback Torrance Gibson, of Plantation, Fla.; and defensive tackle Joshua Alabi, from the same high school as Weber, Cass Tech in Detroit.
Gibson and Alabi had already verbally committed to the Buckeyes, but some worried they might change their minds.
“We didn’t get everyone we wanted,” Meyer said. “We battled really hard, but at the end of the day, five jumped in the boat today.”
Among the highlights of the class are:
• Balance: There are 13 offensive players, 13 defensive players and a long snapper.
• Size: The class is heavy on big men with six offensive linemen and five defensive linemen.
• Depth: The Buckeyes add two quarterbacks: Joe Burrow, of Athens, Ohio, and Gibson. For now, they have six quarterbacks on the roster, and Meyer said he’s never had a roster with this type of quarterback depth.
• Variety: Twelve new Buckeyes are from the Buckeye State, but Ohio State also signed three players from Florida and two each from Michigan and Virginia. Players from Utah, Minnesota, New Jersey, Arkansas, Indiana, Georgia, Maryland and, for the first time ever, South Dakota, also signed.
The class features one player from the Dayton area: Wayne senior Robert Landers, a 6-foot-2, 295-pound defensive tackle who committed to the Buckeyes in December.
Co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash described Landers as explosive and powerful in the trenches.
“Once we identified him as a real prospect after we watched more and more film of his senior year, he kept playing better and better and really stood out,” Ash said. “Then once we got a chance to get him over on campus for an official visit and found out what he was about, we knew he was the type of guy we wanted in the program. Luckily for us, he grew up an Ohio State fan and wanted to be there. Once we made that offer, it was a quick decision for him.”
Four players who signed are already on campus and attending classes: linebacker Nick Conner, of Dublin, Ohio; defensive end Jashon Cornell, of St. Paul, Minn.; defensive back Jamel Dean, of Cocoa, Fla.; and offensive lineman Grant Schmidt, of Sioux Falls, S.D.
Scout.com ranks the class first in the Big Ten and seventh in the nation. ESPN.com and 247SPORTS rank it sixth in the nation. Rivals.com rate it ninth.
The top-rated prospects on Ohio State’s list, according to Rivals.com, are: linebacker Jerome Baker, of Cleveland Benedictine (No. 50 overall in the class of 2015); linebacker Justin Hilliard, of Cincinnati St. Xavier (No. 55); Weber (No. 59); and Prince (No. 67).
Meyer doesn’t think winning the national championship Jan. 12 with a 42-20 victory over Oregon affected this class as much as it will affect the next recruiting class. It might have helped the Buckeyes land Prince and Hill and perhaps Gibson, he said, but they didn’t turn as many recruits as he thought.
“In 2016, we’ll see a jolt,” Meyer said. “That’s going to help us. (Winning the title) was like a 30-day infomercial. … It just gets the scarlet and grey in front of everyone in a positive light.”