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Could Ohio State’s 2017 Recruiting Class End Up as Urban Meyer’s Best Ever?

June 28, 2016

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Which of Urban Meyer‘s recruiting classes you consider to be the best of his coaching career likely depends on where your allegiances lie.

If you’re a Florida fan, it’s tough to top the Gators’ 2006 class, which set the stage for Meyer’s historic run in Gainesville. If you favor Ohio State, Meyer’s 2013 haul would likely get your vote, considering the pivotal part it played in the Buckeyes’ run through the first College Football Playoff a mere year later.

But regardless of whether you’re partial to Florida or Ohio State, the discussion may no longer be left to debate in a mere seven months.

With the way the Buckeyes’ 2017 class is already shaping up, a new candidate could soon be in play, and it may just possess the pieces to make an undisputed claim as the best in Meyer’s storied recruiting career.

Ever since the 2017 recruiting cycle began to take form more than a year ago, Ohio State’s upcoming class has stood at the top of the heap. At least that was the case until a week ago, when a commitment from long snapper Thomas Fletcher inched Alabama past the Buckeyes and into the No. 1 spot on the 247Sports composite rankings for the first time in more than a year.

The Crimson Tide’s reign wouldn’t last long.

Just days after Fletcher gave his pledge to Alabama, Ohio State received a commitment from 5-star offensive guard Wyatt Davis, which catapulted the Buckeyes back into the 2017 rankings’ top spot by a full 13 points.

It’s been that kind of recruiting year for the Ohio State, and although recruiting rankings aren’t the end all, be all—both Meyer’s 2007 and 2010 classes scored higher than his 2006 and 2013 hauls—they’re often an accurate indicator of the talent a class possesses.

It’s not a coincidence either that Meyer’s recruiting peak could come at a time when he’s had the most to sell on the recruiting trail, between last year’s national title and his program’s prominent presence in this year’s NFL draft.

“I tell people it was like a 30‑day infomercial,” Meyer said of the Buckeyes’ national title last signing day, a comparison he’d reuse when Ohio State had five players selected in the first round of the NFL draft 15 months later. “Go pay for a positive advertisement for 30 days and see what that looks like.”

After landing the nation’s fourth-ranked class in 2016, the second return of results are only looking stronger. Despite possessing fewer commitments (14) than any of the first three teams trailing behind them—Alabama, Oklahoma and Michigan—the Buckeyes have a firm hold on the nation’s top-ranked class, with highly touted top targets remaining on Meyer’s radar.

“Rankings aren’t important,” Meyer stated this past signing day, before conceding, “as long as you’re keeping score, we like to do the best we can. I think that’s kind of appealing to me—to know that we’re one of the top teams in the country as far as quality of player.”

In that case, you won’t yet find a 2017 class more impressive than Ohio State’s, with Davis joining offensive tackle Josh Myers and cornerback Shaun Wade as 5-star prospects committed to spend their college careers in Columbus. Ohio State also currently lays claim to the nation’s top-ranked dual threat quarterback in Tate Martell, who has taken it upon himself to serve as one of the Buckeyes’ chief recruiters since giving his verbal pledge to Meyer earlier this month.

The reality, however, is Meyer may not need the help. To this point, 13 of Ohio State’s 14 commits possess either a 4- or 5-star rating, the lone exception being the nation’s top-ranked kicker, Blake Haubeil.

It remains unclear how many more prospects the Buckeyes will be able to add throughout the 2017 cycle, as they already appear to be in a numbers crunch as far as available scholarships are concerned.

But that won’t stop Ohio State from continuing to chase some of the nation’s top remaining uncommitted players, including 5-star wideouts Tyjon Lindsey and Trevon Grimes and 4-star corner Lamont Wade, each of whom 247Sports’ Crystal Ball projections favor to end up in Columbus.

At the moment, the Buckeyes’ 2017 class has earned a score of 267.90, which trails their 2016 class’ final total of 289.12, despite the 2016 score factoring in 11 more prospects. According to the 247Sports calculation system, Ohio State’s 2017 point total would jump to 297.62 with the entirely possible additions of Lindsey, Grimes and Wade.

From a numbers standpoint, that would already make 2017 Meyer’s fourth-highest ranked class before even factoring in the remaining prospects who will round out a class that could theoretically top out in the low 20s.

Based on that limitation alone, the numbers might simply not be there for Meyer’s upcoming class to be considered his best from a statistical standpoint. The 323.66 score his 30-man class at Florida registered in 2010 is going to be tough to top—although there may also not be a better example of the imperfect science that recruiting rankings contain, as that class was ultimately received as a relative disappointment.

Much like Meyer’s better remembered 2006 and 2013 hauls, the Buckeyes’ 2017 class will be judged by the legacy it leaves more than the score it receives upon its arrival. But with a collection of players who possess high-impact ability, Ohio State’s upcoming class could potentially score high on both.

Only time will tell how it’s remembered historically. But even for all he’s already accomplished in his 14-year coaching career, Meyer’s never had momentum on the recruiting trail like this.

 

Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report’s Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. Recruiting and class ratings courtesy of 247Sports‘ composite ratings.

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