Throughout the recruiting process, the Elite '15 definitely kept Buckeye Nation on the edge of their seat. Let's take a walk down memory lane, and relive how former Dublin Scioto standout linebacker, and early enrollee Nick Conner, turned his childhood dreams of suiting up for OSU into reality.
247Composite: 8th ranked inside linebacker, 8th best player from Ohio, and 215th overall player in the class of 2015
High School: Scioto, Dublin, OH
Ohio State isn't afraid to dish out an offer to freshmen and sophomore prospects. Even though he grew up just miles from the stadium, Conner wasn't one of those lucky recruits. While he didn't obtain a scholarship from the Buckeyes right off the rip, Nick was still a frequent visitor to the OSU campus.
Making the short trip from Dublin, Conner would take in a few Buckeye homes games during his junior season, including Wisconsin and Penn State.
After a more than stellar junior campaign at Dublin Scioto in which he accounted for 129 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, and three interceptions, programs really started to turn the heat up on the Second Team All-Ohio linebacker. Gaining early offers from Power 5 conference teams such as Boston College, Kentucky, Indiana, Cincinnati, and West Virginia, Conner never shied away from letting the world know that Ohio State was where he wanted to end up playing his college ball, going as far as to tell Land-Grant Holy Land on different occasions that OSU was his dream school.
Before Ohio State faced the Clemson Tigers in the 2014 Orange Bowl, Nick once again made the short trek to the OSU campus to watch the Buckeyes practice, and rub elbows with Urban Meyer and his coaching staff.
"I had a a lot of fun. I was able to talk to pretty much all the coaches because it was more laid back. It was really great getting to talk to all of them. they all knew who I was because I'm from the area, which was pretty cool. (Urban Meyer) told me we're pretty much neighbors since we both live in Dublin. It was really cool to talk with him for a few minutes." Nick told Land-Grant Holy Land soon after his visit.
Just a few weeks later, Conner would head to Indiana to participate in the Best of the Midwest Combine. The camp gave Nick a chance to prove he wasn't just one of the top athletes in Ohio, but the surrounding area. While he might not have been impressed with his overall performance, the four-star prospect sure didn't disappoint the staff working the event and was named MVP of all the linebackers in attendance.
"I think I did well in the pro shuttle, and the L-drill, Conner told Land-Grant Holy Land following his workout. "I still think I should have done better in my 40-yard. I think I ran 4.7, and I should be doing better than that."
The Dublin native would return to the OSU campus for a couple more practices, and was also a guest at last April's spring game. Surprising most of the recruiting world, Conner would leave those trips without a scholarship from his childhood favorite Buckeyes. With offers out to higher rated out-of-state prospects at the time, the staff made it very clear that they were interested, but wanted to see more of Conner up close and personal at one of their summer camps.
Before hitting the camp circuit, Conner started to see his stock sky rocket last May. Vanderbilt, Minnesota, Oregon, and Virginia Tech all offered him in a span of just a few days. Holding a very solid scholarship list at that time, he would head to Michigan State's camp just a couple weeks later looking to add the Spartans to his growing list.
Showcasing his talents against other top MSU targets, Conner impressed former OSU assistant coach and current Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio enough at their June 1 camp to walk away with a chance to don the green and white just one day later.
On the eighth, Nick continued where he left off at the Michigan State camp. At the Five-Star Rivals Challenge, Conner once again shined against some very stiff competition, and walked away as the overall MVP for the linebackers.
With more schools starting to take notice of his skill set, Conner would finally get his chance to show Urban Meyer, Luke Fickell, and the rest of the Ohio State staff that he was worth a scholarship. June 18 will certainly be a day he will remember for the rest of his life. Blowing the staff away during camp, Conner didn't just receive a scholarship offer from Ohio State, he left the camp a member of the Elite '15, after committing to OSU on the spot.
In August, Conner moved one step closer to living out his life long dream of suiting up for the Buckeyes when he signed a mid-year agreement with Ohio State.
With his college plans set, Conner turned his focus on his senior season, and helping the Dublin Scioto Irish get to the state playoffs. Trying to stay out of the spotlight, internet rumors would be put Nick's name back in the headlines in October. With reports that he would officially visit Kentucky floating around, Conner never made the trip to Lexington, sealing the deal for OSU.
Nick started his last season on the high school level off rather strong before being sidelined with a lower leg injury. Missing half the season and the playoffs, Conner finished his senior season with 53 total tackles, and four sacks on defense, while accounting for nearly 500 all purpose yards and 13 touchdowns on offense.
Still nursing his injury, Conner was selected to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American game in Carson, CA with fellow OSU early enrollees Jamel Dean, Grant Schmidt, and soon-to-be signee Joe Burrow. Like Dean and Schmidt, Conner didn't play in the game but spent the time getting better acquainted with his future teammates.
A few days after arriving back home to Dublin from the West Coast, Conner would pack his bags and move into the dorms on the Ohio State campus, officially making him a Buckeye student athlete.
Already enrolled and officially a Buckeye, Conner has a jump start on some of his Elite '15 classmates. Getting a few months to learn the system and play in the upcoming spring game, Nick has a solid shot at turning this opportunity into early playing time come fall.
The Buckeyes are looking to add depth to what is already a very solid linebacker crew led by Joshua Perry, Darron Lee, and Raekwon McMillan. If Conner can stay healthy and grasp the college game before the 2015 season kicks off, the Buckeyes could use his speed and toughness as a backup middle linebacker, and as a potential special teams head rocker.
If things don't go as planned, sitting a year and learning from some of the best coaches and players in the country isn't the worst case scenario for Nick. A redshirt year has worked wonders for numerous current Buckeyes, including former New Albany standout Darron Lee, who starred this past season for the Buckeyes after not seeing the field right out of high school.
Did you know?
According to this Instagram video by now OSU true freshman defensive end Jashon Cornell, Conner will trade in his high school number 42 for 34 when he suits up for the Buckeyes this upcoming season.