Gareon Conley's one-on-one time with the Ohio State staff could flip him from Michigan for good.
Arguably the biggest recruiting weekend of 2012 since Friday Night Lights is already underway for Urban Meyer and his staff. Will the Buckeyes strike gold and land any verbal commitments this weekend?
Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes' potentially most impactful recruiting weekend to date is well underway in the Ohio State campus area. Massilon, Ohio product Gareon Conley was a Michigan commit until very recently, but is in Columbus already now a day and change into his official visit to the Buckeyes' home turf. While many believe he's still a slight Michigan lean at this point (and he's got an official visit to Ann Arbor scheduled for next weekend), Meyer and his staff are at present taking advantage of a rare mid-week visit; Conley and his mother arrived in Columbus Wednesday evening in order to facilitate Conley taking the ACT this weekend and play in a Saturday night high school basketball game. Given his former ties to that team up north and the strong likelihood he'll be there again in a little more than a week's time, it's hard not to envision Mike Vrabel (his principle recruiter) and Meyer pushing for a decision before he departs Central Ohio this afternoon.
While it's not clear whether or not Conley will be able to be in attendance due to the NCAA's mandated limit of 48 hours for official visits, either way, Ohio State and its staff have cooked up the mother of all recruiting draws. The Buckeyes, along with a packed crowd of in upwards of 13,000, will celebrate Ohio State's 6th unbeaten season in school history tonight at St. John's Arena. Tickets to the event, which were free, have since "sold out". But in addition to the thousands of screaming Ohio State alumnis in fans, in attendance will be a cadre of future and prospective future Buckeyes, all in town for their official visits. Quite the happy accident, isn't it? The already verbally committed Ohio State Buckeyes that will be there are:
DB Cam Burrows, WR
Jalin Marshall (said to be pushing his visit back to January 11th), DB Jayme Thompson, RB Ezekiel Elliott, OL/DT Tim Gardner, OL Evan Lisle, DL Billy Price, DB Darron Lee, and DE Tracy Sprinkle.
Not only will they be taking in the sights and sounds of the best acoustic possessing arena this side of the Horseshoe, but they'll be doing so in an effort to convince a number of on the fence prospects to too make the decision to spend the next four-to-five years of their life in Columbus. Amongst those still undecided making officials for the event (and weekend):
LB Mike Mitchell,
DB Vonn Bell (playing in state semi's this weekend but had wanted to be in attendance), DT Donovan Munger,(Munger failed to make the trip and no one is really sure why; some speculation is that he wanted to save his officials for out of state destinations, but when asked about whether or not he'd reschedule he told The Ozone's Michael Chung "no" then later deleted the tweet; UPDATE: it appears Munger made the trip after all, just later than expected), and JUCO LB Tommy Sanders.
It's also expected that class of 2015 DB Eric Glover-Williams will be in attendance in an unofficial capacity. Another former Wolverine commit, OL David Dawson, was expected to be in attendance, but had to cancel at the last second due to a conflict with the ACT examination.
The Buckeyes have been hard on Mitchell since he first broke out at Nike's The Opening 2012 and won the SPARQ national championship. Still, Mitchell's taken his time, but you'd almost have to expect the Buckeyes to really engage the full court press this weekend to try and seal the deal. It was thought that Mitchell was an Ohio State lean this past summer; should be interesting to see if word slips out sometime this weekend that he's made his commitment verbally official.
This week may not have been a great time to be a Wisconsin Badger, but as far as Urban Meyer and his staff are concerned, it's a perfectly valid time to try and take advantage of a coaching instability situation with Bret Bielema having departed Madison for the University of Arkansas job. The Buckeyes had tepid interest in Barrington, IL 3-star offensive tackle Jackson Keeler for some time, but Keeler committed to Wisconsin this past May. That seemed to quell the attention directed his general vicinity...until of course Tuesday's surprising news. Now enter a situation where the Buckeyes are trying to force their way back into the picture:
We'll have to stay tuned to see if Ohio State closes on the kind of situation Bret Bielema would've feigned mock outrage about in the past but will have to likely engage in on the regular in the not-so-cozy confines of the SEC.
And speaking of coaching turnover, the Buckeyes had Luke Fickell in Atlanta Thursday to try and sync up with LB Trey Johnson. The Buckeyes visited Johnson but a week ago, but with his decision now potentially coming down to Ohio State and Florida after decommitting from the Tigers, it'll be up to both sides to put the pressure on now to prevent Gus Malzahn and his incoming staff from reselling Johnson on their mission statement.
Finally, the class of 2014 feels far away with only 8 weeks standing between us and National Signing Day 2013, but you can never plan too far ahead. The Buckeyes continue to make great strides with 2014 RB Derrell Scott:
."Those are the ones I really like," said Scott. Ohio State, North Carolina and NC State have all visited Scott at his school in the last week. "They're all telling me the same thing really," he said. "They all really like me and they all really want me." He says he will visit the three schools this off-season.
It may seem awfully early in the process, but remember, Cam Burrows kicked 2013 off right for the Bucks just over 11 month ago. And with Scott already placing Ohio State amongst his top four, one has to think the presence of former North Carolina interim head coach/defensive coordinator Everett Withers is going to pay dividends towards landing the four-star halfback for the class of 2014.