Urban Meyer and the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes have a big weekend ahead of them.
Of course, that’s always the case leading up to the annual Ohio State - Michigan game. This year’s clash between the two rivals is especially important for the Buckeyes, though—not just because an undefeated season hangs in the balance, but because of the enormous recruiting implications.
More than 40 of the nation’s highest rated 2013 and 2014 recruits will invade Columbus this weekend to watch Ohio State take on Michigan from the sidelines. From verbal commitments getting a glimpse of their future home to undecided prospects looking to soak up the environment, dozens of the nation’s elite high school players will be watching the action unfold.
Rivals.com recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt talked about Ohio State’s big opportunity, “In 10 years of doing this, this is one of the biggest recruiting weekends I’ve come across. It just seems this could be an epically big recruiting weekend.”
With 17 verbal commitments already in the fold, Meyer is looking for around five more pledges to close out the 2013 class. Players who have already committed like Joey Bosa, J.T. Barrett, Ezekiel Elliott, Cam Burrows, Eli Woodard and Jalin Marshall will be in attendance Saturday looking to help sway a few select recruits who remain undecided.
Ohio State’s biggest needs are at wide receiver and linebacker, and fortunately for the Buckeyes, Meyer will have a great opportunity to impress some key prospects at those positions.
James Quick, a 4-star receiver with 4.4 speed, is considering Ohio State and Louisville. Quick is rumored to be a Louisville lean, but that could change this weekend when he visits Columbus. Meyer is desperate for playmakers at the receiver position, and Quick is one of the most skilled uncommitted receivers in the country.
Ohio State will be in an even better position to land Quick if Charlie Strong, Louisville’s head coach, leaves for a different school at the end of the year. Strong has done a fantastic job with the Cardinals, and with a few head coaching vacancies in the SEC, he could be headed south for greener pastures.
Also at the receiver position is Shelton Gibson, a 6’1" speedster from Cleveland Heights, Ohio. The coaching staff fell in love with Gibson in July after he dominated drills during Friday Night Lights, Ohio State’s summer football camp.
Gibson will also be on the sidelines for the Michigan game, putting the Buckeyes in good position to land the 4-star receiver.
Meyer received some good news and some bad news on the linebacker front.
The good news came in the form of an unexpected visitor:
4-star ILB Trey Johnson of Central Gwinnett (Ga.) visits #OhioState this weekend officially. IMO, that's now team to beat— Keith Niebuhr (@Niebuhr247) November 20, 2012
Ohio State’s recruitment of Trey Johnson, who verbally committed to play for Gene Chizik and the Auburn Tigers, has picked up recently. His interest in the Buckeyes has risen immensely due to Auburn’s recent struggles and the uncertainty surrounding Gene Chizik’s job status.
Johnson is one of the best inside linebackers in the country, and you can expect Meyer to pull out all the stops to get him to flip.
Mike Mitchell, a 4-star linebacker from Plano, Texas, will not be able to make it for the Michigan game. Mitchell is a versatile linebacker with unbelievable (4.4) speed for his size, but his high school team’s success in the playoffs will prevent him from making the trip.
Mitchell recently named Ohio State his leader in front of Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oregon, and he plans on visiting Columbus sometime in December.
While closing out the 2013 class is a priority, Meyer is putting a ton of work into building relationships with recruits for 2014.
A trio of 5-star prospects from the 2014 class will take in the sights from the sideline this weekend.
Linebacker Raekwon McMillan will reportedly be joined by defensive linemen Andrew Brown and Da’Shawn Hand on Saturday, according to elevenwarriors.com. On the offensive side, quarterback Drew Barker, offensive lineman Kyle Trout and wide receiver Thaddeus Snodgrass—all rated 4-star talents by Rivals—will be in attendance this Saturday as well.
Needless to say, Saturday is a huge day for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes. A win over Michigan could make a huge, lasting impression on some of the most talented recruits in the country.
Follow David on Twitter @davidreg412