A collective sigh of relief filled the Midwest air when Urban Meyer decided to step down as Ohio State’s head coach following the 2018 season. Surely, with one of the game’s most legendary coaching figures leaving the B1G, the gap between the Buckeyes and the rest of the conference would narrow.
That doesn’t appear to be the case. In fact, quite the opposite seems to be happening, at least early in the Ryan Day era in Columbus. Somehow, the first-time head coach and his juggernaut recruiting staff seems to be putting even more distance between Ohio State and the rest of the B1G.
Recruiting for Ohio State is off to an incredible start for the 2021 class, with the Buckeyes already receiving 14 verbal commitments and owning the top-ranked class in the nation before the calendar even flipped to April. A whopping 12 of those pledges, by the way, are four- and five-star prospects.
Eleven recruits are ranked inside the top 150 overall players in the 2021 class, per 247Sports’ Composite rankings. Eleven! The other 13 B1G teams have a combined three players committed who rank inside the top 150 — Michigan with two and Wisconsin with one.
Yes, obviously it’s extremely early in the recruiting cycle, but it’s really a microcosm how Ohio State has dominated the recruiting landscape compared to the rest of the conference over the last five years (really it’s longer, but five years is a great sample size).
Since 2017 (and including 2021, though we’re a long way from that Early Signing Period in December), Ohio State has managed to land commitments from 16 players with a five-star rating. The rest of the B1G has landed 11 five-star players in that same span, and the Buckeyes have raked in four times as many blue-chip prospects as Penn State and Michigan.
Here’s the breakdown of five-star players since 2017:
- Ohio State: 16 players
- Penn State & Michigan: 4 players (each)
- Iowa, Wisconsin & Maryland: 1 player (each)
Eight B1G programs — Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Rutgers — have not landed a single five-star athlete. Not that it’s really all that common for a majority of those schools, anyway.
So far, Ohio State has received commitments from a pair of five-star talents — defensive end Jack Sawyer (No. 3 overall) and quarterback Kyle McCord (No. 22 overall). Michigan is the only other team with a five-star commit right now, coming from quarterback J.J. McCarthy.
The numbers become just as eye-popping when you look at the number of prospects ranked inside the top 100 who have committed to Ohio State since 2017 compared to other B1G schools, as well. The Buckeyes are landing three times as many as Penn State, and four times as many Michigan.
Here’s the breakdown of top 100 commits over the last five years:
- Ohio State: 44 players
- Penn State: 15 players
- Michigan: 11 players
- Maryland, Nebraska & Wisconsin: 3 players (each)
- Michigan State: 2 players
- Purdue, Illinois & Iowa: 1 player (each)
If you do the math, Ohio State has brought in 44 players ranked in the top 100 over the last five seasons. The rest of the B1G has combined to bring in 40. The gap has been widened since Day’s first full recruiting class in 2020 — with Ohio State landing 16 top 100 players. The rest of the league totaled just seven, with Penn State and Michigan being the only schools to get multiple commitments at two each.
Meyer did excellent work on the recruiting trail, but it appears that Day and his staff may be outperforming his predecessor, a fairly unbelievable accomplishment. And it’s entirely that possible that by the time the 2021 and 2022 seasons arrive, this staff could assemble one of the best B1G football teams we’ve ever seen.
Day and the Buckeyes aren’t just regularly winning recruiting battles and leading the B1G year-after-year (2019 aside with the transition from Meyer to Day), they’re bringing in top 100 talent and five-star prospects at an exponentially higher rate than any other program in the conference.
A league that includes traditional blueblood programs such as Michigan, Penn State and Nebraska, by the way. It makes the achievements of Day and his staff even more incredible.
It seems so long ago that the B1G exhaled that collective sigh of relief to see Meyer step down from his position as head coach at Ohio State. After seeing what Day has done in such a short time in Columbus, the rest of the conference is now probably wishing Meyer was back in charge.
Right now, the gap is only widening.