Gameday+ | Big Ten championship game keeps Ohio State coaches off recruiting trail

Joey Kaufman

The end of the college football regular season on Thanksgiving weekend ushers in a frantic stretch on the recruiting calendar.

With most teams idle during conference championship weekend, coaches can visit high school seniors at their homes. Some are committed prospects and others top uncommitted targets. It's part of a two-week contact period that started Sunday and continues through Dec. 15, and the efforts are usually highlighted through photos on Twitter.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh stopped by St. John Bosco in Bellflower, California, on Wednesday, a day after Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck was in central Ohio to see Hartley star Miles Fleming, a Golden Gophers commit, hours after he was recognized as Big Ten coach of the year by his peers.

But unlike their rivals, Ohio State's coaches are grounded. With the Buckeyes facing Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game Saturday, they remained on campus for meetings and practices.

Coach Ryan Day said he explained the situation to several recruits this week.

They didn't mind.

“Almost everyone to a person says, 'No, that is a good problem to have, Coach. We're glad you're playing in that championship game. We get it,'” Day recounted.

It's the third straight season with the Buckeyes in the conference championship game. Though it won't be delivered in person, it makes for a decent sales pitch. A win would give Ohio State its third straight outright Big Ten title.

“Certainly being in this spot is huge credibility in recruiting,” Day said.

The Buckeyes' position ahead of the early signing period Dec. 18 is largely helped by their early efforts in recruiting. They they picked up most of their commitments during the summer. They have 25 commitments, likely meaning they can only add a couple of more prospects.

“That's why you put so much work into recruiting leading up to this point,” Day said. “We recruit these kids so early on, the relationships are there. Then we'll do everything we can next week to get out there and hustle around and see these guys.”

Soon after Day took over for Urban Meyer in January, they sought to keep their current commitments for 2020 and bring others into the fold. The Buckeyes' 2020 class is poised to finish in the top five nationally after falling outside last winter. The composite rankings from 247Sports have them fourth behind Clemson, Alabama and LSU.

After the conference title game, coaches will visit with recruits. Day said they will follow a “blueprint” laid out by Mark Pantoni, the program's recruiting director.

Day estimated some assistants might only be able to be on the road for four days, limiting some of their interaction. Much of their effort will involve checking in on players who are enrolling in school early in January for winter workouts and spring practice.

“It's going to be a bear to try to get out there and see everybody, get all that done,” Day said.


Lejond Cavazos, S, IMG Academy (Fla.), 6-1, 196

Mookie Cooper, WR, Pattonville (Mo.), 5-8.5, 193

Jacolbe Cowan, DT, Providence Day School (N.C.), 6-5, 262

Julian Fleming, WR, Southern Columbia (Pa.) 6-2, 199

Josh Fryar, OG, Beech Grove, Ind., 6-5.5, 305

Ty Hamilton, DE, Pickerington Central, 6-3, 250

Darrion Henry, DT, Cincinnati Princeton, 6-4.5, 279

Jakob James, OG, Cincinnati Elder, 6-5, 285

Paris Johnson Jr., OT Cincinnati Princeton 6-7, 290

Trey Leroux, OT, Norwalk, 6-8, 355

Cameron Martinez, ATH, Muskegon (Mich.), 5-11, 183

Mitchell Melton, OLB, Good Counsel (Md.), 6-3, 235

Jack Miller, QB, Chaparral (Ariz.), 6-4, 210

Clark Phillips III, CB La Habra (Calif.) 5-10.5, 178

Lathan Ransom, S, Salpointe Catholic (Ariz.) 6-0.5, 193

Joe Royer, TE, Cincinnati Elder, 6-5, 225

Gee Scott Jr. WR, Eastside Catholic (Wa.) 6-2.5, 207

Jake Seibert, K, Cincinnati La Salle, 6-1, 190

Cody Simon, OLB, St. Peters Prep (N.J.), 6-1, 218

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Rockwall (Texas) 6-1, 188

Grant Toutant, OT, De La Salle Collegiate (Mich.), 6-7, 320

Ryan Watts, CB, Little Elm (Texas), 6-2.5, 187

Kourt Williams, OLB, St. John Bosco (Calif.), 6-1, 216

Miyan Williams, RB, Cincinnati Winton Woods, 5-10, 210

Luke Wypler, C, St. Joseph Regional (N.J.), 6-3.5, 285

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