Ohio State’s 2018 recruiting class ranks first nationally. Their 2017 group? Second. Every single recruiting class since Urban Meyer’s 2012 hiring has placed among the top eight nationally in the 247 Sports composite rankings, a run of success only matched or surpassed by Alabama.
Not coincidentally, Alabama is also the only program that can compete with the Buckeyes’ 61-6 mark with five top-10 finishes in Meyer’s five seasons.
Obviously it’s the opposite of a secret that championship-level recruiting leads to championship-level teams, but Ari Wasserman’s deep dive into the Buckeyes’ recruiting operation for the Cleveland Plain-Dealer explained how Ohio State recruits the way it does: investment.
Ohio State employs 10 full-time people devoted solely to recruiting, a department headed by general manager and former FootballScoop Player Personnel Director of the Year Mark Pantoni.
Pantoni is the perfect man for his job because his job is the only one he wants. He doesn’t desire to move on to a coaching position or to an NFL job. His willingness to grind allows Ohio State to watch every single snap of every player they’re considering.
“That’s the NFL model,” Pantoni told the paper. “You don’t know how much time and resources go into that. You want to see if they take plays off. You want to see their weaknesses. You don’t just want to see the highlight tape.”
“A lot of times people in those positions want to become a coach, so instead of watching recruiting film or checking out the dot coms and camp film, he’s in there watching quarterback film with the quarterback coach,” Meyer said of Pantoni. “I’ve made that mistake in past because I hired a guy because he’s a coach, but coaches want to do what? Coach. They don’t want to sit for six hours a day and watch Rivals camp film.”
Ohio State has also exponentially ramped up its creative department. This allows the program not only to produce a bulk of content — they do 500 graphics or videos a week — but to put out the right graphics.
“When it comes to our personalized graphics, we don’t always just want to send a kid a picture of him wearing an Ohio State jersey and holding a Heisman,” recruiting staffer Zach Swartz said. “We want to really individualize these graphics and cater to exactly what they like. It’s personal. We want to get to know them. If a kid wants to be a cop one day, we want to know that and build a graphic around it.”
Obviously this level of investment isn’t possible for most programs — but for anyone wanting to recruit with the best in the program, this is the bar and it isn’t dropping.