It takes a lot for one person to create a buzz with a program like Ohio State, where winning and tradition is taken for granted. But, the past year has not been so kind to Buckeye Nation, as NCAA issues and the resignation of former head coach Jim Tressel rocked the entire state.
Monday's announcement that Ohio State was hiring Urban Meyer as their next head coach was the first day of sunshine within this program in 2011, and it's hard to exaggerate Meyer's impact on the entire state.
With interest so great and expectations so high, how was Meyer's first day on the job received by the very people he sought to impress?
One of the top high school players in Ohio is Columbus De Sales star tailback Warren Ball, who committed to Ohio State last fall. Ball has stayed true to the Buckeye program, and has never wavered in his commitment. He had this to say about Meyer.
"I think Ohio State hiring Urban Meyer is a great move," Ball stated. "I've never met him personally, but I know he's had a great coaching career. He is going to be a great addition to The Ohio State University, and I'm very excited to play for him. I'm not at all concerned about the type of offense he will run, because he is a coach that will use the talent around him in the best way. I feel for some of the assistant coaches at Ohio State that may now have to look for work and I pray for their futures, but I'm definitely excited for Ohio State and myself."
Following Meyer's press conference to announce his hiring, the head coach worked the phones throughout the evening, and it was apparent he wouldn't be easing into this job.
One of Meyer's first calls was to five-star tailback Brionte Dunn. The Canton GlenOak superstar also committed to Ohio State last fall, but unlike Ball, Dunn is now considering all options and has visited Michigan the past two weekends.
"Coach (Urban) Meyer called me tonight, and it was great speaking with him," Dunn stated. "I was told he was going to call me tonight, but it was still pretty awesome hearing him call. We talked for a while, and he also talked to my dad, and it went great."
"Coach Meyer said he's going to stop by my school and see me soon," he added. "I had a few questions I wanted to ask him, but I got kind of nervous and I never asked them. I will definitely look forward to talking to him face to face."
Prior to the press conference, Meyer took the time to meet the current Ohio State players, and the early reports were quite positive. One got the feeling the players were almost star-struck and looking to take a picture with their new head coach. Once winter workouts commence and spring football begins, smart money would bet those smiles will be erased from their faces, but on Monday it was all fun and games.
There has also been discussion that Meyer might not honor the scholarships of all 16 players currently committed to Ohio State, and he might want to have his own players in this class. A source close to the recruiting process totally denied that was even a remote possibility, and it appears all commits will be welcomed into the fold.
Speaking of the 2012 recruiting class, how do the numbers shake out and what will the eventual number of signees end up being?
Right now, assuming nobody leaves the program in the immediate future, Ohio State will be able to sign 19 players for the 2012 recruiting class. With 16 players currently committed, it doesn't take a math genius to figure out that spots are limited. There is a possibility that two players could be going on medical red-shirt, which would add a few more spots.
Nathan Williams is definitely returning, which takes a spot that wasn't figured in, and Johnny Simon, Jake Stoneburner, Travis Howard, and others will more than likely not be entering the NFL draft. In the end, look for this class to top out at close to 20 on National Signing Day.
Meyer's recruiting ability will really shine through next year, and once again the numbers will be very tight. If early returns are accurate, the loaded junior class in Ohio features several early strong Buckeye leans. Add in out-of-state prospects like Derrick Green, Tim Kimbrough, Eli Woodard and Jaylon Smith, it looks like some tough decisions will have to be made by Meyer and his staff.