COLUMBUS — Time will tell which of the 27 Ohio State recruits who signed national letters of intent Wednesday will have the greatest impact.
But there was no doubt who was the most talked about recruit on national signing day.
Getting running back Mike Weber, maybe the best recruit in the state of Michigan this year, to become a Buckeye would be a big story any year. But as the first unofficial head-to-head battle between Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh, it drew a huge amount of attention.
Weber gained 2,268 yards this season for Detroit Cass Tech. He originally committed to Michigan but changed to Ohio State when it became apparent Brady Hoke would be fired.
After Harbaugh replaced Hoke, he put a fullcourt press on Weber to come back to the Maize and Blue.
As late as Wednesday morning Meyer wasn’t sure OSU would be able to hang onto Weber, whose high school coach was a teammate of Harbaugh at Michigan.
“As of 11 o’clock last night, I wasn’t sure what he was going to do. At 8 or 9 o’clock this morning, we weren’t sure,” Meyer said.
But in the end, OSU prevailed, as it did with four other players whose decision was uncertain until Wednesday morning.
Defensive tackle Joshua Alabi, a Cass Tech teammate of Weber, wide receiver K.J. Hill, offensive lineman Isaiah Price and quarterback Torrance Gibson also kept Meyer in suspense.
Hill and Price were late additions who had not previously committed to Ohio State. Gibson was a longtime commitment but there were concerns he might sign with Auburn or LSU because he thought there were too many quarterbacks ahead of him at OSU.
The 27-man recruiting class has 13 offensive players, 13 defensive players and a long snapper. Twelve of the new players are from Ohio.
Six of the recruits are offensive linemen and five are defensive linemen. Four have already enrolled at OSU — linebacker Nick Conner, defensive lineman Jashon Cornell, defensive back Jamel Dean and offensive lineman Grant Schmidt.
“We just put together a great class,” Meyer said.
An average of the ratings of OSU’s incoming recruits, compiled by website 247 Sports, put the Buckeyes at No. 6 in the country behind Alabama, Florida State, USC, Clemson and Tennessee.
Meyer was especially enthusiastic about the three linebackers and six offensive linemen who signed.
“I’m really excited about our linebackers. You look at these three guys coming in – Justin Hilliard, Nick Conner and Jerome Baker — , they’re exactly the kind of body types, mentality and people you want,” he said.
The offensive linemen bring the size and wing span coaches look for at that position, with the shortest of the group standing 6-feet, 5-inches tall and the rest between 6-6 and 6-9.
Running backs coach Stan Drayton was heavily involved in keeping Weber committed to Ohio State.
“It was a very tough process for him, a very emotional process for him and his family. I’m glad he’s a Buckeye,” Drayton said.
“Harbaugh’s presence was felt up north. He went in guns blazing, trying to get the best player in the state, which he should. He did a great job of getting into the home. He has a great relationship with some of those coaches in Detroit who played with him,” he said.
Meyer said Ohio State always keeps score against Michigan, but didn’t mention Harbaugh by name.
“We keep score against the rival in everything we do. They’re great recruiters. That has gone on before us and will go on long after us,” he said.
JOSHUA ALABI (Detroit Cass Tech), 6-4, 295, Defensive End. 3-stars. Rated No. 1 defensive line prospect in Michigan. Offers included Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame.
A.J. ALEXANDER (Burke, Va., Lake Braddock), 6-4, 235, Tight End. Missed most of his senior season with injuries. 4-stars. Offers included Maryland and Miami.
DAMON ARNETTE (Fort Lauderdale, Fla. St. Thomas Aquinas), 6-1, 190, Defensive Back. Late addition to the class. Same high school as Joey Bosa. 3-stars. Originally committed to South Carolina.
JEROME BAKER (Cleveland Benedictine). 6-2, 206, Linebacker. 4-stars. Offers included Oregon and Florida. Ohio Division IV Defensive Co-Player of Year.
RASHOD BERRY (Lorain), 6-4, 235, Tight End. 3-stars. First-team All-Ohio. Had 11 touchdown catches as a senior. Offers included Michigan State and Illinois.
BRANDEN BOWEN (Draper, Utah Corner Canyon), 6-7, 320, Offensive Line. 3-stars. First-team all-state. Rated among top 100 offensive tackle prospects. Offers included Nebraska, Oregon State and Utah.
MATTHEW BURRELL (Woodbridge, Va.), 6-5, 310, Offensive Line. 4-stars. Considered a top ten offensive line prospect nationally. Offers included LSU, Florida State.
JOE BURROW (Athens The Plains), 6-3, 215, Quarterback. 4-stars. Threw 63 touchdown passes with only two interceptions for Division III state runner-up team this season. Offers included Boston College, West Virginia.
NICK CONNER (Dublin Scioto), 6-3, 234, Linebacker. 4-stars. Missed half of senior season with injuries. Offers included Michigan State, Oregon. Already enrolled at OSU.
JASHON CORNELL (St. Paul, Minn., Cretin-Derham), 6-2, 261, Defensive End. 4-stars. Offers included Alabama, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Florida. Rated in top 100 seniors regardless of position by three national recruiting services. Already enrolled at OSU.
JAMEL DEAN (Cocoa, Fla.), 6-2, 200, Defensive Back. 4-stars. Rated one of top ten defensive back prospects in Florida. Offers included Florida, Miami, Georgia Tech. Already enrolled at OSU.
KEVIN FEDER (Ramsey, N.J. Don Bosco), 6-9, 305, Offensive Line. 3-stars. Ranked as high as No. 16 among offensive tackle recruits. Offers included Miami, Michigan State.
TORRENCE GIBSON (Plantation, Fla. American Heritage), 6-4, 195, Quarterback. 4-stars. Threw for 1,895 yards and 19 touchdowns and rushed for 980 yards as a senior. Offers included Auburn, LSU, Miami.
ERIC GLOVER-WILLIAMS (Canton McKinley), 5-9, 170, Defensive Back. 4-stars. First-team All-Ohio as running back. Committed to OSU as a sophomore. Offers included Wisconsin, Michigan State.
DAVON HAMILTON (Pickerington Central), 6-3, 290, Defensive Lineman. 3-stars. First-team All-Ohio. Had 23 tackles for losses as a senior.
K.J. HILL (North Little Rock, Arkansas) 6-0, 190, Wide Receiver. 4-stars. Flew under the radar until signing day. Chose Ohio State over Arkansas and Alabama. Caught 58 passes for 1,023 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior.
JUSTIN HILLIARD (Cincinnati St. Xavier). 6-2, 230, Linebacker. 5-stars. USA Today All-American. Rated No. 1 linebacker prospect in the country by two national scouting services. Offers included Michigan State, Florida, Notre Dame.
DRE’MONT JONES (Cleveland St. Ignatius), 6-4, 265, Defensive End. 3-stars. Played only two seasons of high school football. Offers included Iowa, Indiana.
MIRKO JURKOVIC (Bradenton, Fla., IMG Academy), 6-5, 285, Offensive Line. His father was an All-American lineman at Notre Dame for Lou Holtz. Offers included Florida, Nebraska.
ROBERT LANDERS (Huber Heights Wayne), 6-2, 290, Defensive Line. 3-stars. Previously committed to West Virginia. State shot put champion.
LIAM MCCULLOUGH (Worthington Kilbourne), 6-2, 230, Long Snapper. Offers included Michigan State, Kentucky.
JOSHUA NORWOOD (Valdosta, Ga.), 6-0, 175, Defensive Back. 3-stars. Six interceptions and five forced fumbles as a senior.
ISAIAH PRINCE (Greenbelt, Md. Eleanor Roosevelt) 6-7, 280, Offensive Line. 4-stars. Also was a signing day revelation. Rated a top ten offensive tackle prospect by three major scouting services.
GRANT SCHMIDT (Sioux Falls, S.D. Roosevelt), 6-6, 285, Offensive Line. 4-stars. Offers included Minnesota, Utah. Rare OSU recruit from South Dakota. Already enrolled at OSU.
ALEX STUMP (Lakewood St. Edward) 6-3, 193, Wide Receiver. 4-stars. Missed most of senior season with foot injury. Caught 57 passes, 17 of them for TDs, as junior. Originally committed to Kentucky.
DENZEL WARD (Macedonia Nordonia), 5-11, 175, Defensive Back. 4-stars. Had nine interceptions as a senior. Offers included Cincinnati, Kentucky, Indiana.
MIKE WEBER (Detroit Cass Tech), 5-10, 215, Running Back. 4-stars. Rushed for 2,268 yards and 29 TDs as senior. Originally committed to Michigan. Rated a top ten running back nationally.