Just two weeks after his hiring was made official, Urban Meyer — and the recruiting cachet that comes with his name — is already paying significant dividends for Ohio State.
And, as a result, proving costly on the verbal front for a couple of Big Ten schools.
According to multiple media outlets, a pair of four-star defensive linemen in the Class of 2012 committed to the Buckeyes on Monday. Tommy Schutt, the No. 5 defensive tackle in the country and the top-rated player in the state of Illinois, committed to OSU after being a firm Penn State verbal right up until the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke in State College, while Se’Von Pittman, the No. 8 defensive end in the country and No. 3 player in the state of Ohio, had been decommitted from Michigan State to stay in his home state.
Both players visited Ohio State this past weekend, and spent extensive time with Meyer. Suffice to say, the presence of the former Florida head coach made a significant impression on the two linemen and played a commitment-shifting role in their decisions.
“I had a great visit this weekend to Ohio State and got to know the coaches and the players better,” Schutt told Rivals.com. “I spent a lot of time talking to Urban Meyer.”
“My official visit was great,” Pittman told the same website. “I got to sit down with the guys and talk to coach Meyer. … For me to leave a coach like [MSU's Mark Dantonio], [Meyer] had to be a great coach and a great person too and everything he told me was what I wanted to hear to be comfortable enough to [decommit from the Spartans].”
The news of Pittman’s decommit from MSU came as a surprise to the Canton (OH) high schooler’s coach.
“For 5 1/2 months, I didn’t think there was a chance in the world this would happen because Se’Von was sold on coach (Mark) Dantonio and Michigan State,” Canton McKinley’s Ron Johnson told the Columbus Dispatch. “Then some things happened recently that made him reconsider, and he flipped.”
Schutt’s high school coach, Chad Hetlet, told ESPN.com that OSU’s interim head coach also played a role in landing the lineman. Luke Fickell, who will remain on Meyer’s staff after coaching the Buckeyes in the Gator Bowl vs. Florida, was Schutt’s recruiter, and Hetlet said the coach bridged the gap between the uncertainty in the post-Jim Tressel era and Meyer coming to Columbus.
“Ohio State did a nice job as a staff of hanging in there,” Hetlet told the website.
“And coach Fickell did a nice job of staying in communication with him. He told him everything will work out. When coach Meyer got the job, they got in contact with Tommy immediately. From that point he went on to take an official visit and was blown away by everything.”
Schutt, who had OSU squarely in his mix prior to the NCAA issues that hit the football program, becomes the third Nittany Lions verbal pledge to decommit since Sandusky, the former PSU defensive coordinator, was indicted on child sex-abuse charges.
It should be noted that verbal commitments are non-binding, and recruits — as shown in these two decommitments — can change their mind all the way up to putting their Herbie Hancocks on a Letter of Intent beginning in early February. It also should be noted that the coaches in Meyer’s new conference are likely none too pleased with having their verbals poached by the new coach on the block.
Right or wrong, though, they’d better get used to these “new” recruiting ways — the SEC recruiting ways — or risk getting left behind.