Under Urban Meyer, Ohio State developed deep recruiting ties in the state of Florida, landing Sunshine State star after Sunshine State star. The list of Florida prep stars that Meyer landed while in Columbus includes the likes of Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa, Shaun Wade, and Nicholas Petit-Frere, all of whom found a good deal of success during their time at Ohio State.
However, since Meyer’s departure, the Buckeyes have lost a little bit of juice in the Sunshine State. Since the 2019 class, Ohio State has only signed one true Florida product in Marcus Crowley, which is quite a dip when you compare it to Meyer’s success in Florida.
On the other hand, as it was put to Buckeye Scoop on a recent trip to South Florida, Meyer was one of only two college coaches that could go into the talent-rich state and land nearly any recruit he wanted, with Nick Saban being the other. With that in mind, it is a bit easier to understand the dip in Sunshine State talent coming to Columbus, but that tide could quickly be changing for the Buckeyes.
Simply put, high school football is different in Florida than it is in most other states. Football is a business in Florida. It is a way of creating generational wealth for a prospect’s family and changing their lives forever. As a result, players in Florida want to go to a place where they can be developed for the ultimate goal, which is the NFL.
Under Urban Meyer, they knew he could prepare them for the NFL because he had done it for others. The same can be said for Nick Saban and Alabama. But it has taken a few cycles for Ryan Day to prove that he can continue what Ohio State developed under Meyer, and now that Day has shown that ability, the Buckeyes may be in for a bit of resurgence in the Sunshine State for the 2022 class.
It all starts with the coaching staff when it comes to recruiting, and for most prospects in Florida Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford makes the initial contact. After that, Alford gets help from all the other staff members, and in 2022 he is getting help from two of Ohio State’s best recruiters, defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs and defensive line coach Larry Johnson.
Coombs and Alford already have the Buckeyes off to a hot start in the Sunshine State. In Jannuary, they pulled off a come-from-behind victory to land five-star cornerback Jaheim Singletary out the Jacksonvile area. Going into Florida and stealing Singletary from the Gators was a big feat for the Buckeyes. This is what Singletary had to say to Buckeye Scoop back in Janaury on picking Ohio State.
“Coach Alford, he’s my main guy. Even though he’s the running backs coach, that’s like my father figure on the coaching staff. Coach Coombs, my position coach, thats my guy too. I love Coach Coombs, he’s a funny guy and he’s got that energy, I love him.”
With the coaching staff already having the Singletary feather in their cap, they will now look to steal more stars from the Sunshine State. Excluding IMG Acadmemy products because most of them aren’t Florida natives, the Buckeyes are after a handful of Sunshine State studs. And those targets are with two different position groups, defensive line and defensive back.
Starting with the defensive line targets, there are really three names to know: five-star defensive end Shemar Stewart and four-star defensive ends Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenyatta Jackson. Of the bunch, Stewart seems like the least likely to end up in Columbus, with Jones Jr slightly more likely. Jackson on the other hand could very well end up in Columbus. Buckeye Scoop caught up with him recently and the topic of more Florida prospects potentially looking at Ohio State since Day has established himself as a head coach came up.
“Of course,” he said, “because of the history of the program and the success he’s been having there.”
Defensive line coach Larry Johnson will have his work cut out to land any of the three prospects above. However, as Jackson mentioned, Florida prospects are beginning to take note of the success Day is having in Columbus and it is opening doors.
More of the same can be said about Ryan Day and Ohio State when it comes to defensive back targets, especially with Kerry Coombs manning the room. The Buckeys have two primary targets in the Sunshine State, four-star cornerback Ryan Turner and four-star safety Markeith Williams. Turner was offered by Ohio State not too long ago but they are already near the top of his list and a decision could be coming this spring or early summer. Williams also has the Buckeyes near the top of his list if not his favorite. Visits will be key there, however. Buckeye Scoop spoke with Turner recently and asked him how Florida prospects view Ohio State under Coach Day.
“I feel like we view Ohio state highly being from down here and seeing them contend for the national championship every year,” he said.
Long story short, Urban Meyer had very deep ties to the Sunshine State after his time in Gainesville and he used those ties well in Columbus. Now Ryan Day is beginning to build those same connections to Florida after two years as the head man in Columbus with two College Football Playoof appearances. The Buckeyes already have one Sunshine State stud in Jaheim Singeltary for the 2022 class, but they want more. They also have Florida on their mind in 2023 with 11 offers already issued to Florida natives in the class.
With Ryan Day’s sustained success on the big stage, the Buckeyes could be looking at a bit of a resurgence in Florida for the coming class and it would no doubt be a welcomed sight.