As one of the top talent producing states in the nation, the state of Ohio is the backbone of Midwest recruiting. Historically, there are very few programs in the Big Ten and Mid-American conferences that have had great success on the field without having some success recruiting Ohio. The 2013 class is once again loaded with talent and there are already several battles forming for Ohio's top talent. With several of Ohio's top prospects already off the board and others closing in on early decisions, we take a look at five programs (in alphabetical order) that are getting it done right now in Ohio.
The great Michigan teams of the past have always had former Ohio prep stars on their roster and head coach Brady Hoke is trying to get back to that level. The Wolverines signed a very strong group from Ohio in the 2012 cycle and are off to an excellent start in the 2013 class having already landed commitments from four Ohioans, all of which are considered among the top 30 prospects in the state.
The Wolverines likely aren't done either as they are the favorites to land four-star linebacker Mike McCray who announces on March 8th. Michigan is also very much in the game for Columbus Walnut Ridge receiver Rob Wheelwright, Akron Firestone receiver Kevin Gladney, Hudson linebacker Ben Gedeon, and Massillon Washington defensive back Gareon Conley. At this point it would be safe to assume that Michigan will land at least five highly regarded prospects from Ohio in the 2013 cycle.
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio has pulled plenty of talent out of Ohio since taking the head coaching job in East Lansing. The Spartans recently landed their first Ohio verbal in the 2013 cycle from outstanding Warren Harding defensive back Jalyn Powell and Dantonio and company have their sights set on several other Ohio prospects.
Among the top Ohio targets right now are Solon defensive back Darian Hicks, Ben Gedeon, and Moeller four-star linebacker Shane Jones. The Spartans are also tracking several other Ohioans and typically throw out a few offers to Ohio prospects at their summer camp.
With head coach Bo Pelini's ties to the state of Ohio, it comes as no surprise that the Huskers have been more active in the state recently, especially in the Youngstown area. The Huskers grabbed a huge early commitment in four-star safety Marcus McWilson out of Cardinal Mooney and they are also putting the full court press on his teammate, linebacker Courtney Love.
Recently, the Cornhuskers entered the mix for Toledo Central Catholic tight end Keith Towbridge and they are the early favorites in that race. Other targets include Rob Wheelwright, Kevin Gladney, Shane Jones, and four-star Kettering Alter quarterback Malik Zaire.
The least shocking name on this list, being the in-state power, but the Buckeyes are once again putting forth a strong effort in their home state. New head coach Urban Meyer closed strong in the 2012 cycle and is off to a fast start in 2013 with commitments from the state's top two prospects in five-star defensive back Cameron Burrows and four-star athlete Jalin Marshall. The Buckeyes also recently landed the state's top offensive lineman in Centerville four-star tackle Evan Lisle as well as the state's top defensive tackle in Austintown-Fitch product Billy Price.
The Buckeyes have been pretty conservative with in-state offers so far but are targeting players such as quarterbacks Mitch Trubisky and Malik Zaire, linebackers Courtney Love and Ben Gedeon, and speedy four-star wide receiver Shelton Gibson, among many others. When the dust settles on National Signing Day 2013, Ohio State should have once again landed a big-time haul from their home state.
A MAC program? Yes, a MAC program. Toledo was the beneficiary of some major steals in the 2012 class in receivers Armani Miller and Marcus Davis and they are off to a great start in 2013 with an early commitment from Findlay athlete Austin Niswander. The Rockets have employed an aggressive recruiting strategy that not only spreads offers around liberally but also gets offers out early in the process.
So far, so good on that strategy as landing Niswander, a prospect many feel has BCS level talent, is a great start. The Rockets are also in strong position with some outstanding Central Ohio area prospects such as Groveport defensive end Dawuane Smoot and Dublin Coffman quarterback James Walsh.
Honorable Mention: Illinois, Penn State, and West Virginia.