Ohio State can't close.
The top recruits just flirt with the Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes were in (enter 5-star recruit's name here) top three all the way to Signing Day, but in the end, he felt (enter school not named Ohio State here) was a better fit.
How many times over the last seven or eight recruiting classes have we seen National Signing Day come and go, and how many times have we seen the Buckeyes come up empty and get shut out on two or three guys you really felt good about heading into NSD? It seemingly happened every year, so when Ohio State made the final two for top recruits James Clark and Vonn Bell, many Buckeye fans weren't holding their breath. And when Clark committed, most people wrote off Bell, because there was just no way OSU could land both.
Wt: 190 lbs
40 yard dash: 4.45
School: Ridgeland High School, Rossland, GA
Bell was one of the most sought after 2013 recruits, regardless of school. The defensive back from Rossville, Georgia, capitalized from a solid junior year, and quickly became either the number one or number two safety prospect in the country by his senior year. His 247Composite ranking is impressive, as they have him as the #29 player overall, the number four player from his home state of Georgia, and the number two safety in all the land.
And there was no way he was coming to Ohio State.
Oh, the Buckeyes and Urban Meyer put on the full court press, but they were late to the party, as Alabama and Tennessee had gotten a head start on Bell. A lot of folks believed that Tennessee was almost a shoo-in, as Bell had grown up a Volunteer fan, and made several trips to Knoxville. After each one, he came away talking up Rocky Top, but Alabama was right there.
Nick Saban and the lure of Alabama is a tough thing to turn down, and the Crimson Tide were pressing hard for Bell to commit there, too. National titles, the lure of being on the top team in the top conference, and playing on a defense as good as 'Bama's made Bell think long and hard, and for a time, it looked like Alabama had moved in to the lead.
Still, like the proverbial underdog who just hangs around and hangs around, the Buckeyes were there, just outside the top two. Bell attended an OSU camp, and had nice things to say, but it just seemed like Bell was being polite and saying the right things.
Because Vonn Bell wasn't coming to the Buckeyes.
When Derek Dooley was fired and Butch Jones was hired, there seemed to be mixed reviews as to whether or not that would hurt or help the Volunteers in trying to land Bell. On the one hand, Bell had been recruited by Dooley's staff and he had built a relationship with them. But on the other, Butch Jones is considered one of the fast rising head coaching prospects and Bell was very impressed with him, and the lure of playing for his favorite team growing up still seemed to heavily influence him.
Yeah, Urbz's a great recruiter, but this is a bridge too far even for him.
But when Dooley was fired, Meyer and co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers got personally involved in Bell's recruiting, and as things drew towards signing day, Ohio State was still there, hanging around, as Bell officially made his top three schools Alabama, Tennessee, and OSU.
As signing day came, there was a lot of anticipation on all three campuses, and to Bell's credit, he gave no indication as to which way he was leaning. But OSU fans had seen this dance play out before, and it just felt like, oh, EVERY OTHER SIGNING DAY EVER WHERE THE TOP GUY WENT ELSEWHERE.
Then, approximately half an hour or so before he was to announce, Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports sent out this now infamous tweet:
For Ohio State fans, it wasn't unexpected. There were a few who'd made wildcard picks for the Buckeyes, like Mike Farrell, that stuck with their Vonn Bell prediction, but this was a scene we had seen played out far too often in the last seven or eight years. It looked like not even Urban Meyer could land the really big signing day fish. We resigned ourselves to the fact that even without Bell, the Buckeyes had a great class.
Twitter can be pretty nebulous about what is fact and what is fiction sometimes, but Feldman is a solid guy, and he knows as many folks in the SEC as you can. United States Colonial Marine Private William Hudson had every Buckeye fans reaction upon hearing Feldman's call of Bell to the Vols (warning for some NSFW language):
Then Bell had his press conference:
Wait...WHAT?!?!?! HE SAID OHIO STATE!
Coach Coombs, are we fired up about that? YES WE ARE FIRED UP ABOUT THAT:
Vonn Bell, Buckeye. Stunning was the most accurate word used by folks in describing Bell's announcement, and it elevated Ohio State to the number two recruiting class for 2013.
To Meyer's credit, he was quick to praise the efforts of Withers, and said that without his dogged recruiting on Bell, it wouldn't have happened. But make no mistake about it, this is what having Urban Meyer as your head coach means. No, you're not going to get every five star guy in the country, but you're going to get more than your fair share, and with Meyer, it's never over until it's over.
The reason Bell elicits so many emotions is because he is one of the top playmaking safeties in the country, and I find it hard to believe he'll be on the sidelines very long once the season starts. He is smart, a good tackler, and seems equally adept in both run support and defending the pass. He moves his hips well, his backpedal is as fundamentally sound as I've seen, and he doesn't waste motion or time in closing to the ball. When matched up against the best high school talent in the country, Bell stood out, and he seems like he is going to be the Next Big Thing in the Ohio State secondary
Seriously, this kid is the real deal, and I can't wait to see him take the field.
Highlight Jam Session:
One Of These Things Is Blatantly False:
- Bell indicated he probably would have gone to Tennessee if Butch Jones had been there longer
- Everett Withers' recruiting was so in-depth on Bell he had a personal barber in Bell's hometown
- Bell was told he needed to play in the SEC, but his retort was that Meyer is bringing the SEC to the Big Ten
- Urban Meyer can't close (HI, MICHIGAN FAN. THAT'S THE BLATANTLY FALSE STATEMENT, JUST SO WE'RE CLEAR)