Justin Hilliard of Cincinnati St. Xavier is the 11th verbal commitment for Ohio State’s 2015 recruiting class and the second linebacker, joining Nick Connor of Dublin Scioto.
He is the seventh recruit from southwestern Ohio in Urban Meyer’s three-plus years as head coach of the Buckeyes and the third from Cincinnati, joining Adolphus Washington (Taft) and Sam Hubbard (Moeller). That makes a pair of Greater Catholic League pickups for Meyer in as many years with Hubbard having been the top-rated player in the state last year.
Hilliard is only the second St. X recruit for Ohio State since John Cooper was hired in 1988, joining quarterback Robby Schoenhoft, who signed in 2005 and later transferred after losing a QB battle to Todd Boeckman.
Meyer said he wanted to put a dent in the perception OSU struggles to recruit in Cincinnati, but so far the results are mixed. The sample size is admittedly small for Meyer, but Jim Tressel averaged 0.64 Cincinnati players in his 11 recruiting classes while Cooper checked in at 0.85. Expand it to the metro area and the numbers grow to 1.2 for Tressel and 1.38 for Cooper. So far, Meyer is at .75 for Cincinnati and 1.0 for the metro.
As I’ve written previously, part of the reason for a dearth of Ohio State recruits from Cincinnati under Tressel was a lack of actual offers. Those were easier to define then as the term “committable offer” has muddied the waters now, but I haven’t gone back to do a similar comparison with Meyer yet. (Here’s the feature I wrote in BSB about Ohio State recruiting the area.) While Ohio State has done well searching far and wide — within the state and beyond — for talent, having a strong presence in Southwest Ohio is important with Southern schools coming north more often and the population continuing to shift.
READ MORE: Ryan Ginn of BuckeyeSports.com was on the scene for Hilliard’s commitment: Buckeyes Land Hilliard – ohiostate – Scout.