Kirk Irwin - Getty Images
Ohio State hits the road to East Lansing, Michigan, to begin Big Ten competition versus the Michigan State Spartans. Speaking for myself, I am approaching this upcoming contest with mixed emotions.
Yes, I am happy that Ohio State is entering into this game with a perfect record at this point in the season, but does anyone truly know how good this Ohio State team is as they enter into Big Ten play?
Another question came to mind as I approach this game. Will Ohio State be able to slow down Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell, who is the focal point of the Spartan offense? And come to think of it – Le’Veon Bell is a native Ohioan, hailing from Reynoldsburg, Ohio. Why is Le’Veon Bell carrying the ball for the Spartans, instead of the Buckeyes? How did Bell get away from Ohio State? What about the other Ohio players on Michigan State’s roster? How did Ohio State miss out on them?
Out of curiosity, I looked up Le’Veon Bell, via rivals.com. Looking at Bell’s college choices, Michigan State was the only Big Ten school to offer him a scholarship. Former Ohio State running backs coach Dick Tressel was involved in Le’Veon Bell’s recruitment by Ohio State, but no scholarship was ever formally extended.
Besides Le’Veon Bell, there are a number of other Ohioans on Michigan State’s roster that Ohio State did not recruit. For example, Michigan State cornerback Johnny Adams hails from Akron Buchtel. While Adams was offered by other Big Ten teams besides Michigan State, Ohio State was not one of them. Johnny Adams will probably be selected in the early rounds of next spring’s NFL Draft.
Does anyone remember the recruiting saga of Steve Gardiner? Gardiner played at Dublin Coffman, was recruited by Luke Fickell late in the recruiting process, but selected Michigan State over Ohio State back in 2008.
What about Denicos Allen? Allen is the actual starter at the Sam linebacker spot for Michigan State, whereas Steve Gardiner is a backup at this position for the Spartans. Allen hails from Hamilton, Ohio, and was recruited by several Big Ten schools besides Michigan State. Again, Ohio State was not one of them.
Ohio State fans would acknowledge offensive line depth is a concern for this year’s team. It is entirely possible that offensive line depth is going to be a concern for a few seasons, due to former offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Jim Bollman’s sporadic offers over these past few seasons. Contrast that Michigan State, who have three native Ohioans starting along their offensive line, with left tackle Dan France (North Royalton, Ohio), center Travis Jackson (Columbus DeSales), and right tackle Skyler Burkland (Sunbury Big Walnut). Helping with the depth for the Spartans are Ohioans Henry Clark, Donavan Clark, Nate Klatt, and Michael Dennis. Essentially all of these players had interest in Ohio State, but that interest was not reciprocated by the Buckeyes, especially Jim Bollman.
Am I excited about Ohio State’s recruiting under Coach Meyer? Absolutely. The only concern I have is if too much focus is being extended on areas far from Ohio. Coach Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans has shown a tremendous willingness to come in and sign Ohio players if the Buckeyes do not provide them an opportunity.