Under Jim Tressel, recruiting was very good and Ohio State continually had an abundance of talent coming to Columbus to don the Scarlet and Gray. But if there was a criticism of the old staff, it was an inability to close, and what could've been all time elite classes were relegated to the Hall of Very Good. In years past, RB Dontre Wilson would have been one of those ‘guys that got away', but under the Urban Meyer regime, closing strong is becoming a trademark. Let's take a look at one of the ‘Big Three' from around National Signing Day.
40 time: 4.4, give or take. We'll take it, thank you very much.
High School: DeSoto (DeSoto, Texas)
Although the Buckeyes were in on Wilson early, he seemed to be a Texas or Oregon lean from the beginning. Wilson's size and speed seemed tailor made for the Chip Kelly offense, and he really gives off a LaMichael James in terms of how he plays. When Wilson made it known that he wanted to play in a spread offense, Texas seemed out of the running, and it came down to Oregon or the Buckeyes.
At DeSoto's spring game (wait, high schools have football spring games?!) on May 25th of last year, Wilson made it official and committed to the Ducks. It was a blow that hurt Buckeye recruiting, as he seemed like a perfect fit for Tom Herman's offense as well.
But, like a phrase from one of my favorite shows goes, ‘what is dead may never die'. As summer turned to fall, and fall took us through the 2012 football season, there were some seismic shifts at Oregon. Chip Kelly moved on the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles, and all of a sudden, all eyes were back on Dontre Wilson, including a certain coach of a certain Big Ten team in Columbus.
In the early days of Kelly's departure, Wilson stayed firm in his commitment to Oregon, as Wilson had developed a good rapport with offensive coordinator turned head coach Mark Helfrich. But he then decided to take a couple of visits while remaining a ‘soft commit' to Oregon, but by the time Wilson made it to the Under Armour All American game, Kelly's departure actually took him back to ‘square one'.
By mid-January, Ohio State coaches made the trek to DeSoto and pitched their program to the disillusioned 4 star RB, and got him to make an official visit on the weekend of January 25th. Wilson also intended to take an official visit to the ‘other' OSU, Oklahoma State, the week following his OSU official.
But Oregon was not going to go quietly into the night. Two days before Dontre got on a plane to Columbus, the entire Ducks staff made an in-home visit, and asked him to re-affirm his commitment and not go to Columbus.
Wilson declined, headed to C-bus that Friday, and it was game on. Wilson's visit went very well, and after he left, it was down to the Buckeyes, Oregon, and Texas, who made a late push to try and nab the in-state back. He took an official visit to Austin the first weekend of February, and two days before signing day, Wilson made his announcement:
We'll forgive him for being nervous. It was another stunning coup for Meyer and his staff, and a preview of things to come on signing day.
Earlier, I mentioned that Wilson compares in a lot of respects to former Oregon RB LaMichael James, and it's an easy one to make. His size, versatility, and movement with the ball is very similar, and he's a very elusive runner.
One of the things Coach Meyer talks about with regards to speed isn't straight line measured speed, but acceleration-how fast does a guy get into his top gear? For Wilson, in one or two steps he's at his top end speed and it's something that is hard to compensate for. When you watch his film, you notice defender after defender take poor angles to make a tackle, all because no one thinks he gets to that speed that quickly. When he's split out as a receiver, he gets separation from the defender, and within two or three steps he has his guy beat by five yards.
Those are things you can't coach, and you get the feeling that the staff will find some kind of role or package for him as a freshman. He has very good ball carrier instincts and good hands as a receiver. He's also a good punt and kick returner, and it's not inconceivable to see him compete for that job as well. With his combination of running and pass catching ability, you can easily envision him in the critical ‘flex' position in the offense. If there's a weakness in his game, I would say that he is just average at breaking first contact with a defender. He makes a lot of guys miss, but if someone can get both arms around him, he generally goes down on first contact.
I don't know that he'll wrestle the starting spot from Jordan Hall, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Wilson's role in the offense increase as the season moves forward. Still, Wilson is one of the big catches in the class of 2013, and should provide a lot of highlights for Buckeye fans in the coming years.
Highlight Jam Session:
One Of These Things Is Blatantly False:
- Dontre's Ohio State announcement was carried live on a Dallas television station in which the news broadcast (other than Wilson's commitment) was pretty much all really bad news.
- Wilson's 2013 birthday wish was for Oregon to win the Fiesta Bowl
- Dontre took official visits to Ohio State, Oklahoma State, and Texas after he de-committed from Oregon
- Wilson was the #1 overall rated prospect from the state of Texas, according to the 247Composite rankings