To appreciate what Ohio State has done in keeping Braxton Miller, Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett all on its roster, consider this: Fourteen ESPN 300 quarterbacks have transferred or left the program they signed with since 2013. None have left Ohio State.
And, as if that wasn't enough, the Buckeyes continue to lure more top-end QB prospects. Even with a stocked roster, Urban Meyer and his staff have landed five ESPN 300 quarterbacks since 2013, the most of any program during that time. Among that group is 2016 signal-caller Tristen Wallace.
Getting them and managing them are two different things, but both start with Meyer. Wallace is the first to sing Meyer’s praises when asked why he chose to play in Columbus despite a depth chart that runs deeper than the Ohio River.
“I have a great relationship with Coach Meyer, and we’ve had a feel for each other ever since he started recruiting me,” Wallace said. “He has worked with Tim Tebow, and he recruited Cam Newton, so it shows you what he’s been able to do with quarterbacks and what he’s done in the past.”
Meyer holds a ton of weight across the recruiting landscape, but one coach isn’t the sole reason Ohio State has been able to land and hang on to so many quarterbacks.
Another factor in OSU’s favor has been geography. The state of Ohio has produced only two ESPN 300 QBs from 2013 to 2017, but both -- Joey Burrow and Danny Clark -- pledged to Meyer.
Clark has dreamed of playing for the Buckeyes his whole life, so no amount of competition could scare him away from donning the scarlet and gray.
The third factor has been the coaches on Meyer’s staff. He brought in Tom Herman as offensive coordinator when he took the Ohio State job after the 2011 season, and Herman turned out to be a great fit.
Herman took the head-coaching job at Houston this offseason, and that easily could have led to transfers or to recruiting targets looking for other opportunities. But Meyer’s choice to hire Nebraska’s Tim Beck to replace Herman ended up being just another positive move for Ohio State.
“Tim Beck probably recruited me since eighth grade, before I even played a freshman game. My relationship with Coach Beck was even better than with Coach Meyer,” said Wallace, a Texas native who had previously been committed to Texas Tech. “That’s when I knew I had to switch to Ohio State. It’s not about the quarterback situation, because I know eventually I’m going to have to compete, so I saw a lot of good situations with those two guys together at Ohio State.”
As long as recruits like Clark and Wallace aren’t scared away, and instead are attracted to the competition, the run of success can continue.
A prominent FBS offensive coordinator in an opposing conference contributes some of that to changing mentalities among prospects.
“They are not as worried about the roster as in the past because they have a mindset they can beat anyone out,” the coordinator said. “It’s more about the school, coaches and type of offense than the roster numbers.”
Yes, Ohio State commits seem more willing to take part in a position battle, but Miller’s recent switch to receiver has also shown them that Meyer and his staff will still use the talents these players have.
“I’m a quarterback first, and I’m going to get a fair shot at quarterback, but if for some reason that doesn’t go as planned, the Braxton Miller situation gave me another positive thing to go by, that I could play another position and not have to transfer,” Wallace said. “I played receiver my freshman and sophomore year of high school, Torrance Gibson is an athlete, Jalin Marshall threw for over 2,000 yards his senior year, Darron Lee, the linebacker, even played quarterback a little in high school. They didn’t recruit all those guys for quarterback, but it shows that athletes can excel easily at Ohio State.”
The type of prospect they recruit, the coaches and competitive environment have all helped create this perfect storm for Ohio State to build a depth chart resembling an all-star-game roster.
Meyer has his quarterback cabinet stocked up for the future, and as long as the program keeps winning, there is no telling when that trend will stop.
“Coach Meyer doesn’t have to work too hard to sell recruits on Ohio State,” said Clark, a 2017 ESPN Junior 300 recruit. “W’s will always help out the cause.”