Ohio State recruiting: State Secrets, 12/27

De'Ante "Pop" Saunders is done at Florida. Could Ohio State be in his future? - Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

The dead period stays... well, dead, but two former Urban Meyer targets at Florida are suddenly free agents.

We're all still recovering from the collective high of the surprise Marcelys Jones commitment Christmas day. But as we carry on through the dead period (which as a reminder is a time when the coaches are limited to but phone contact once weekly and in-person contact is prohibited though recruits are still able to attend open to the public practices under their own volition), that doesn't mean Urban Meyer and his staff still aren't busy plotting the future of the Ohio State football program.

The latest news isn't even related to a class of 2013 or class of 2014 prospect, but instead a former class of 2011 member. De'Ante Saunders (nicknamed "Pop") was a 3-star signee for Will Muschamp's inaugural class at Florida (though was recruited before that by Urban Meyer and his staff). It was rumored about two weeks ago that Saunders was on his way out of Florida, but little about them passed the sniff test.

Well as it turns out, where that was smoke (albeit pretty superficial smoke), there is in fact now fire. Saunders was granted his release from Florida several days ago:

Whether the Ohio State bits were shots in the dark or not remains to be seen. The only school Saunders has admitted publicly to having prospective interest in is that of former Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong and Louisville. We'll have to stay tuned to see if the Buckeyes enter in to the picture at all (or if Meyer is even interested for that matter).

But that's not the only Florida Gator leaving the program nor the only one interested in (potentially) reuniting with Urban Meyer. Redshirt junior OT Matt Patchan, who started eight games in 2011, is also leaving Muschamp's team. He apparently is considering both Ohio State as well as his former position coach, Steve Addazio, and Boston College. Patchan missed the Gator Bowl against Ohio State in early 2012 with a pectoral injury. He suffered another pec injury in preseason and didn't suit up for the Gators this past season.

Patchan signed with the Gators way back when in 2008 and was originally a consensus five star talent before a bevy of injuries curtailed his career at Florida. Before he ever even suited up at UF, in May of 2008, Patchan was shot in the shoulder. He was evidently but a bystander in the incident and made a full recovery, but couldn't catch a break there after as injury after injury curtailed his development. He even saw time his freshman and sophomore years at defensive tackle after being converted over from the offense (making one start at the position in '08).

Meanwhile, the class of Ohio State 2013 (or, 2012 depending on how Meyer and co. want to back count things) is getting closer and closer to have its inception on the Buckeyes' central Ohio campus. OSU's five early enrollee's are all wrapping up their last weeks at home and preparing to make the transition to college life:

Those were DE Tracy Sprinkle, DE Tyquan Lewis, DB Cam Burrows, DB Eli Apple, and QB J.T. Barrett. Of the group, Sprinkle, Lewis, Burrows, and Apple are expected to room together. Barrett is enrolling early to rehab a torn ACL and torn lateral meniscus, and is widely expected to redshirt the 2013 season (not that there was a particular need for a true freshman signal caller on the depth chart with both Braxton Miller and Purdue game hero Kenny Guiton both back).

But some of those future Buckeyes have unfinished business before they kick things into overdrive and move in to their dorms January 6th, 2013. Barrett will be in attendance (though unable to play due to the aforementioned injury) at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl Friday evening while Burrows will be suiting up to play in the Under Armour All-America Game the same night. Eli Apple will play his final game as a high schooler Saturday afternoon in the US Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.

Finally, it sounds like Urban Meyer and Luke Fickell have some unfinished business with the class of 2013:

While it's unlikely the Buckeyes get anyone who can start from day one, 2013 LB Mike Mitchell might be about as close as they come. '13 LB Trey Johnson, a slight Buckeye lean, might also not be far off. Christopher Worley, a Glenville teammate and friend of Marcelys Jones, could be another prospective LB commit. And then if you look ahead to the class of 2014, you've got Raekwon McMillan, Clifton Garrett, and Dante Booker as prospective Buckeyes as well.

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