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Few schools identify and develop 3-star recruits better than Ohio State

It's not all about blue-chippers: elite programs must find and coach-up diamonds in the rough, too.

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Through four seasons with Urban Meyer at Ohio State, two things are abundantly clear: Ohio State has joined Alabama in a league of their own when it comes to recruiting, and the same goes for NFL Draft factories. Put simply, the Buckeyes find elite, blue-chip talent, get them to come to Columbus, then turn them in to NFL players.

Urban Meyer as an elite recruiter and Ohio State as an NFL factory are well-known facts. But what about the less-heralded recruits to come through Ohio State?

Championships aren't only built by four- and five-star players who had 30+ offers in high school -- it's also the ability to identify diamonds in the rough in high school. These are kids who may come from under recruited areas, not be playing their natural positions, still need to develop physically in college, or who just benefit from playing for and being coached by the Buckeyes' elite group of coaches.

The anecdotal examples of these players are numerous. Darron Lee. Michael Thomas. Cardale Jones. These highly-drafted players are just the beginning of former three-star players to develop in to super stars for the NFL.

Post-NFL Draft I looked at Urban's history with recruiting and developing three-star recruits following my earlier piece that just looked at blue-chippers.

Successes of Urban's first two classes

In Urban's first two classes at Ohio State, he recruited 12 three-star players to Ohio State and 36 blue-chip recruits for a two-year blue chip percentage of 75%. The vast majority of those three-stars were in his first class -- in 2012 -- where he and his new staff had roughly two months to stitch together following the disastrous 2011 campaign. 2013 only had 3 three-star recruits.

In total, six of the twelve total three-star recruits were either drafted (25%) or are currently contending for a starting spot on this year's team (another 25%). Two more players were long-term starters even though they didn't get drafted -- Tyvis Powell and Jacoby Boren. Including those two, and if you define a successful recruit as one where the player is a significant contributor (currently vying for a starting position or a former starter who is now in the NFL), Urban's overall success rate for three-stars is roughly 67%.

So even the most unheralded recruits in Urban's elite recruiting classes have a high hit rate (67%) -- that's an astounding ability to identify talent and/or coach raw ability.

And for those under-recruited players, their average 247Sports Composite Rating is just .8643, compared to .9722 for Ohio State's most recently-drafted blue-chippers. For the three drafted former three stars, they average only .8666 -- a group that includes Michael Thomas, Cardale Jones, and Darron Lee.

There have been 24 three-stars in the most recent three classes and already two -- Malik Hooker and Damon Arnette -- are challenging for starting spots for 2016.

While the core of Ohio State's recruiting classes will be blue chip recruits, as they simply have a higher likelihood of panning out, Urban's success rate for three-stars has been incredible. If they don't leave the program early, like Frank Epitropoulos, Luke Roberts, or Ricquan Southward, then there's a high likelihood that those players will contend for a starting spot or be a significant contributor down the road in their careers at Ohio State. And if the trend of one in four three-stars becoming NFL Draft picks continues, then that's a heck of an achievement for the Ohio State coaching staff.