Ohio State football | How recruiting was behind the timing of Urban Meyer's retirement

Tim May
Ohio State Buckeyes offensive coordinator Ryan Day hugs his kids Ryan Jr., Grace and Ourania following a press conference to announce his hiring as head football coach following Urban Meyer's retirement after the Rose Bowl at Ohio State's Fawcett Center in Columbus on Dec. 4, 2018. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

Fallout from the retirement of Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer and the promotion of Ryan Day to succeed him was slow to develop Tuesday on the recruiting front, but eventually it came.

Lejond Cavazos, a four-star defensive prospect from IMG Academy of Bradenton, Florida, announced on Twitter that he was backing away from his commitment to play for the Buckeyes in 2019. He wrote that Ohio State “will remain a top school of mine, but I feel the need to explore my options and take a closer look at other universities.”

Overall the response was positive, said Bill Kurelic, who covers recruiting for Bucknuts. Ohio State has 15 players who remained committed for 2019 and seven for 2020.

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“Approximately half of them have come out and said they are still 100 percent Ohio State,” Kurelic said.

>>Ohio State football | Urban Meyer to step down as coach after Rose Bowl

That group included receiver Garrett Wilson of Lake Travis High School outside Austin, Texas. As word began to circulate late Monday that a change might be coming, he received calls not only from other schools but from Meyer, who spoke to him about the transition.

“Coach Day was the coach I initially spoke to a year ago to start my process with Ohio State, and my family I have built a great relationship with him,” Wilson said. “We are 100 percent confident in his ability to bring another national championship to The Ohio State University.”

When it came time to decide when to step away, Meyer said he was concerned most about how it would affect recruiting. He called it the “lifeblood” of any program, and he wanted to be transparent about his intentions because the recruits deserved it, especially with the early signing period beginning Dec. 19.

>>Video: Watch the entire Ohio State News Conference

“The thing that really started to make things (crystallize was) when recruits started asking me, ‘Will you be here for four or five years?’” Meyer said. “Recruits I'm very close with. And this early signing date has put pressure all over (college football).”

The NCAA recently added a rule allowing recruits to change their mind if, after signing, the coach leaves headed toward their first year. Meyer said it weighed on him and athletic director Gene Smith.

“People will say, ‘Why would you let recruiting get in the way?’ That's a silly question,” Meyer said. “That's the blood — you want to have a good team you recruit, and you recruit very hard. So that put a little push on (the decision). And to be honest, I didn't want to mislead recruits. Gene and I both felt — not felt, we knew — and that's what made the decision now.”

>>Video: Five things to know about Ohio State's next coach Ryan Day

Day, a long-time college assistant who spent two years in the NFL before coming Ohio State in January 2017, understands the demands. After Tuesday’s news conference, he reportedly was off to see offensive lineman Nick Broker in Springfield, Illinois. Day expects to see recruits in four states over the next two days.

It’s the only way to go this time of the year, Meyer said, which Day understands.

“This recruiting gig, that's all laser lights have to be on that, 100 percent,” Meyer said. “And I know he's, first of all — he's a great recruiter. And I think the way that things are set up here, that can be full-time energy on that and not some other stuff.”