Urban Meyer has been landing very good recruiting classes in the 2012, 2013, and 2014 recruiting cycles. All five classes have been rated in the top five. The 2015 class has the chance to be the best yet as the coaching staff has been able to develop relationships with the players throughout the entire recruiting process, unlike the other classes where they were getting to know players later than other schools because they simply haven't been running their football program for very long.
One of Ohio State's top targets in the 2015 class is Cincinnati (OH) St. Xavier linebacker Justin Hilliard, who happens to be the top player in the state and is rated as the number 31 overall player and holds a five-star distinction in the 247Composite rankings.
The 6'2 225 pound linebacker has been in contact with many of the nation's top programs, including the in-state Buckeyes.
"I've really been all over the place with the schools I've talked to ever since the dead period started," he said. "I talk to schools like Michigan State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Texas A&M, Ohio State, and really a lot of other schools. I'll probably talk to more schools once the dead period is over."
Despite being busy with St. Xavier's football season, Hilliard was able to take visits to four different school last fall, including the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, and Notre Dame. He had a good time checking out games at all three of the school.
"I checked out games at Ohio State, Michigan, and Notre Dame. I really enjoyed all of the visits," he continued. "I'm pretty sure I was able to make it to four football games in total."
His schedule allowed him to see games at Ohio Stadium on two occasions. First to see the Buckeyes take on the Buffalo Bulls in the season opener and next to see the Bucks take on Big Ten rival Wisconsin under the lights at the end of September.
"I went to the Buffalo and Wisconsin games. The Buffalo game was the first Ohio State game I had ever been to," he told Land-Grant Holy Land. "The Wisconsin game was probably my favorite. The fans were loud and it was just an all-around great atmosphere."
Unlike most players being recruited by Ohio State, Hilliard's best relationship is not with a position coach, but with Buckeye head coach Urban Meyer. Hilliard is in the process of building a very good relationship with the man at the helm of the OSU football program.
"We usually talk about once every week, though it has cooled down a little bit ever since the dead period started last month," Hilliard continued. "We usually just talk about little things, football, and just how we've both been in general. We have a pretty good relationship."
Another interesting dynamic of his recruitment is the fact that his older brother, CJ Hilliard, is committed to Iowa's 2014 recruiting class. Justin definitely has some interest in playing with his brother at the next level.
"It's definitely pretty cool that we have the chance to play together, we're really close," he told Land-Grant Holy Land. "It's good that I have that option, but I'm going to give every school an equal look."
Hilliard is being recruited by many of the nation's biggest school. He took the time to share what he likes about a handful of the programs he's interested in:
Iowa: "Like I said my brother is committed there and also I really like the campus. The area around the campus is pretty boring, but once you get on campus, there's a really good atmosphere."
Michigan: "Michigan has a really big football program. They have great fans and their academics are also really good."
Notre Dame: "I definitely like Notre Dame. I'm very close with the coaching staff up there, their facilities are really nice, and they offer a really good education."
Oklahoma: "They've probably been recruiting be the hardest right now and I really want to get down there for a visit. I really like their defensive schemes and like coach Stoops and their other coaches."
Ohio State: "I'm really close with their coaching staff and have a great relationship with Coach Meyer. The football team is really good too. The big thing for me though is how close I am with their staff."
Texas A&M: "I really like Coach Sumlin and what he has done with their football program. I'm hoping to get down there for a visit really soon."
In the current times, a lot of recruits like to make an early decision to get the process over with. That will not be the case for the standout linebacker. He doesn't have any leaders right now either.
"I'm not 100% sure (when I'll make a decision). Hopefully sooner, rather than later, but I don't think I'll be able to decide on a school until after my senior season," he said. "I'll probably come out with a top 16 or some weird number that like sometime soon."
When he sits down to make that decision about a year from now, there will be a couple of things that will weigh heavily into his decision.
"One thing will be the schools itself since I'm going to be there for four years. Campus life and education will be really important too," he told Land-Grant Holy Land. "A good football team will also be pretty important because I really like winning and want to be a on a good team."
He has developed good relationships with many of the top coaches across the country, but there are a few coaches that stand out to him.
"Probably Coach Stoops at Oklahoma, Coach Johnson at Arkansas, Coach Smith from Michigan, and Coach Meyer at Ohio State," he said.
Hilliard wants to make visits to a few schools that are a long distance from home in the next couple of months including Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and a few others.
I think the Buckeyes are improving their position for Hilliard, but I still think Iowa is the team to beat here. Michigan, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, and others will also be major factors in his recruitment. With Urban Meyer at the helm the Bucks have a pretty solid chance to land his commitment though.