The second year under Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer brings a tremendous amount of expectation to the football program. To help get future stars to Columbus, high level recruiting has been a big part of Coach Meyer's blueprint for every team he has coached for. Friday Night Lights was an idea that coach Meyer and director of player personnel Mark Pantoni wanted to continue at Ohio State after their success in Florida, and based off of last year's event, the tradition will continue in 2013 and beyond.
Created by the staff in 2005, the camp idea wasn't anything new in theory, but the way it was presented was unique. For years, teams have brought in high school recruits to compete against each other in camps and get coached by the same coaches recruiting them. But these camps were usually multiple days long, weren't necessarily covered by the media (at least outside of premium recruiting services), and almost always failed to involve fans.
Friday Night Lights is a one-night extravaganza that annually draws some of the biggest names in the recruiting game. The event was so successful at Florida that Will Muschamp, the current head coach for the Gators, has continued Meyer's tradition. Even now Tennessee coach Butch Jones when he was down in Cincinnati borrowed the tradition in an effort to get recruits to Nippert Stadium.
A key component of making this camp so successful is that the players involved are not just seniors. In fact, juniors are in some ways given the most attentino, giving Meyer an advantage over some camps nationally that cater more to a particular class
So with the broader details out of the way, let's get down to brass tacks: what can Buckeye fans expect from FNL and how can they get in on the action?
Earlier this week, Ohio State released the full schedule of events for today's festivities. To help mentally prepare yourself for the evening, here's what you can expect:
Tonight's events begins with a registration running from 6-6:30, which is then followed by a welcome from the Ohio State staff. From there, participants will be going through strength and conditioning drills with Ohio State staffer Mickey Marotti, individual drill instruction, 1-on-1 drills, pass rush drills, and finally, the skill vs. skill workouts.
In addition to the events, fans can purchase a meal for $11 per person or $7 for a children's meal.
It's important to note that Friday Night Lights is an open event to all registered participants. This means if you're in grades 10-12 and a high school football player, you can pay the registration fee ($40) and participate in the various drills and other events hosted and run by the Ohio State staff.
For the event itself, fans get in free and if you're in Columbus, it's the last shot you'll get at hanging out in the Horseshoe until early September when the Buckeyes host Buffalo. The more fans that get involved in the stands, the better. Imagine for a second that you're a high profile recruit on the fence about Ohio State and you're entering a one-day summer camp only to see the 'Shoe lit up at night as you enter, packed with thousands of screaming, cheering Buckeye fans. Has to get your blood pumpingjust a little bit, right?
Which recruits are attending?
As of now, over 40 high-profile recruits will be attending the event. Unlike the local area kids hoping for a once-in-a-lifetime football coaching experience or those off the radar types hoping to catch at least one position coach's eye, these recruits received actual invitations to the event, meaning that they are probably worth watching (and potential future impact players at the FBS level at that).
Land-Grant Holy Land has been able to personally confirm a number of the players that are going to be in attendance on Friday. That list, as of today, is below:
Class of 2014
Quarterback: Shelby Spence
Running Back: Donte Thomas-Williams, Bobby Brown
Wide Receiver: Trevion Thompson, Chris Jones, Kevin Randolph, Dorian Baker
Linebacker: Raekwon McMillan
Defensive Back: Erick Smith, Eldin Anu, Marques Moore, T'Monte Watson
Athlete: Marshon Lattimore, Curtis Samuel, Braxton Berrios
Class of 2015
Quarterback: Alex Malzone, Brandon Wimbush, Kelly Bryant
Running Back: Leonard Ross, Reggie Gallaspy, Andrew Dowell, Titus Booker
Wide Receiver: Miles Boykin, Flynn Nagel, Milan Golden, Trevon Story, David Dowell
Offensive Line: Rob Dowdy, Gabe Megginson, James Daniels, David Moorman
Defensive Line: Kyle Phillips, Elijah Taylor
Linebacker: Anthony McKee, Markus Bailey
Defensive Back: Kei Beckham, Jordan Whitehead, Jamel Dean, Dre Jackson, Tyree Kinnel
Athlete: Jerome Baker, Colin McNamara, Jack Hockaday, Adonis Thomas, Nyck Grayson
Class of 2016/2017*
Quarterback: Steve Frank, Messiah DeWeaver, Danny Clark*
Linebacker: Luigi Villain(*)
Defensive Back: Patrice Rene
Athlete: Jonathan Sutherland(*)
(*) - Possible attendees
Besides the other details we know about, you can be pretty sure in addition to the electric atmosphere in the stadium, that Pantoni, Meyer, et al will have some extra surprises in store. This event is also not only a great one for the fans but also a sound strategic move by the staff for recruiting, knowing that July is an NCAA-mandated "quiet period" (meaning it's impermissible to make in-person recruiting contact with recruits *unless* the individual happens to be on that institution's campus) for coaching staffs across the country. By bringing those high-profile names to Central Ohio and letting them showcase what they can do, it's a great way for fans to be ahead of the curve, learn about the potential future of Ohio State football, and have a great Friday night in the process.