Ohio State picked up a pair of verbal commitments Wednesday morning, first four-star linebacker Justin Hilliard of Cincinnati St. Xavier then four-star defensive end Jashon Cornell of St. Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Derham.
While Hilliard’s hop on board highlights one issue of interest in regards to recent recruiting (Ohio State in Cincinnati), Cornell’s commitment has its own significance. The 6-3.5, 270-pounder is in line to be the first player from Minnesota to pick Ohio State since Willie Mobley in 2008 and only the third since 1988 (but probably much longer). When eventual All-American linebacker James Laurinaitis signed with Ohio State in 2005, he was believed to be the first scholarship Buckeye football player from the Land of 1,000 Lakes since the great Sid Gillman in the early 1930s.
But we’re getting at a larger trend here.
Cornell’s commitment gives Urban Meyer a player from 21 different states in his two-plus years as Ohio State head coach (encompassing all or part of four recruiting classes). That already surpasses the 16 different states he mined for talent while at Florida from 2005-10 and the 20 different states that produced future Buckeyes under Jim Tressel from 2001-11. Meyer needs one more state to equal the total of John Cooper, who is credited with truly expanding Ohio State recruiting nationwide for the first time after becoming head coach in 1988. Cooper brought in players from 22 different states from 1988-2000.
So far, the 2015 class (which is going to grow but perhaps not by more than three or four more) has 12 commitments, including seven from Ohio. The possibility of signing the smallest in-state class on record (and probably ever) still exists, but the likelihood seems to be shrinking after Meyer turned the tide on a few in-state prospects who were thought to be leaning elsewhere a few months ago (Scout’s Derek Young takes a look at what could be next for the Buckeyes here).
While Tressel and Cooper both signed classes that consisted of about 60 percent Ohioans, Meyer currently stands at 44.3 (31 of 70) if we count only those who verballed or recommitted after his was hired in November to now.
Read more on Cornell from Scout’s Allen Trieu: Relationships Lead Cornell to Buckeyes – recruiting – Scout.