Yesterday afternoon, three-star Athlete Taivon Jacobs made his official verbal commitment to The Ohio State University and, in the process, set a plan in motion that will have him spending the next three or four years of his young life in Columbus, Ohio. On the surface, he’s just the next football-hungry high school recruit to pick one of the biggest programs in college football history. Dig a little bit deeper and you’ll see that this specific commitment wasn’t quite that simple.
Taivon had sixteen total scholarship offers from schools as far away as Hawaii, but it’s the one in his back yard that he had to turn down in order to become a Buckeye.
The newest Buckeye calls District Heights, Maryland his home, which is approximately 415 miles from where he’s about lace his cleats up on Saturdays. On the other hand, Byrd Stadium, home of the University of Maryland Terrapins, is a quick 18-mile jaunt from his home town. Taivon had the Bucks and Terps listed as his top-two when he narrowed down his decision before ultimately committing to the Scarlet and Gray. So how hard must it have been to leave ‘home’ and head west to Columbus? Actually, much more difficult than just geography.
Levern Jacobs, class of 2012 wide receiver, left Suitland High School in District Heights to spend a year at Milford Academy (NY) before de-committing from the Marshall Thundering Herd football program and ultimately enrolling as a Terp in College Park. The opportunity for Taivon to head off to the school around the corner and suit up as a wide out across the field from his brother had to have been an inviting one.
I can’t personally imagine passing that up, especially that close to home, but he didn’t choose a second-rate program over his hometown lean. Instead, he chose a sure-fire Hall of Fame coach who runs a tight ship and will tell you exactly what you’re worth to his program on any given day, good or bad.
Urban Meyer has quickly shown he can go out and get whatever talent he wants, at whatever position he deems necessary. He’s attracted talented student-athletes who may have chosen the sunshine of Gainesville, FL or the momentum recently built in Tuscaloosa, AL over a cold Fall Saturday in the Horseshoe.
Michael Hill, Meyer’s 14th commitment for his 2013 class as a four-star defensive tackle, lives in the heart of SEC Country and had the who’s who of scholarship offers before pledging his loyalty to Meyer and the Buckeyes: Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Ole’ Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Clemson and, yep, Michigan.
A quick glance at 2013 commit J.T. Barrett‘s offer list will tell you that the Wichita Falls, TX quarterback chose the Buckeyes over offers from names like Ole’ Miss, LSU, Baylor, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Oregon and the one program who takes whoever they want from Rider High School – the Texas Longhorns.
But the biggest star of them all may have been four-star defensive end Joey Bosa who decided to leave behind Fort Lauderdale, Florida for the brisk game day weather of Columbus, and in the process shunning his nose at offers from Alabama, Auburn, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Mississippi, Tennessee and his home-state Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles.
Bosa is the 20th-ranked recruit in the nation for 2013, and under the Tressel regime very likely would have put on the colors of a different school. But these kids are smart. Urban Meyer has attracted talent from wherever he’s wanted, some of which were already committed to programs who are actually Ohio State rivals.
There’s blood in the water, and these athletes smell it.
Urban’s success has been well-documented at every stop. He flipped Bowling Green football straight upside down in just two seasons. He took a Utah program to heights never seen in their history, closing out his stint there with an undefeated season, capped with a BCS win. Steve Spurrier had celebrity-status in Gainesville, Florida, but Urban Meyer calmly walked onto campus as an up-start and left six seasons later as a rock star with two national championship rings in tow. Now he’s come to Columbus, exactly where he wanted to be, and has taken a storied program marred in piles of controversy and proceeded to clean up the yard, get the house in order, and run through the recruiting trail like his ass is on fire.
Meyer didn’t come back to his home state to win Big Ten championships, or to simply dominate Michigan to appease the throngs of fans who support the Buckeyes. He’s not here to take a 6-7 team and get them above .500. He sure as hell isn’t hear just to improve on Coach Tressel’s record against the Badgers and their annoying head coach. No, he’s here to steal that head coach’s recruits, fire back at him when his ethics are questioned, dominate the recruiting landscape and bring national titles home with him to central Ohio.
Some of these kids, especially in an age where social media dominates and fans have direct access to their personalities, are now often called ‘divas.’ Some may be, but most are just confident in their abilities. Coach Meyer is certainly confident in his, and seventeen and eighteen year old kids sense that. He’s the exact personality these recruits want to play for, and they’re proving they’ll come from just about anywhere to play for him – even if it means leaving your home school, and your brother, behind.
‘Gentleman’s agreement’ be damned. Four- and five-star athletes don’t strap shoulder pads on to learn how to be a gentleman. They’re here to bust someone’s ass and prove they’re the best at what they do.
These future Buckeyes have picked the right place to do just that.