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Early national signing day not kind to Buckeyes No. 1 hopes

Buckeyes have a great 2018 recruiting class, but what should’ve been a great early signing period celebration turned no fun quickly.

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Urban Meyer was an outspoken critic of the December early signing period for college football. We’re guessing after the opening day of the 72-hour signing period he’s even less of a fan.

Ohio State was riding high early on in the day, as it appeared they were heading for the No. 1 spot in the 247Sports team rankings.

The day started off with the Buckeyes on top of the rankings, and it only got better as 4-star wide receiver Cameron Brown flipped from Nebraska to OSU.

But, that’s pretty much where the fun stopped for the Buckeyes and head coach Urban Meyer.

The celebratory mode quickly went somber with the news that 4-star quarterback Emory Jones was pulling out of his verbal commitment to Ohio State. Instead, he would be signing with Florida and leaving the Buckeyes without a major quarterback commit in the class.

OSU then lost out on just about every prospect that was making a decision with Ohio State involved too.

Yet, it took until late Wednesday night for it to all fall apart. That’s because 5-star safety Jaiden Woodbery took his verbal pledge away from the Buckeyes and became the biggest commit for Willie Taggart’s start at Florida State.

That was the final straw for the Buckeyes tenuous hold on the No. 1 spot, as Georgia’s big day and the Buckeyes losses combined to put the Bulldogs on top.

It’s left a lot of people wondering why, considering Ohio State has been in the mix for the national championship for the entirety of the College Football Playoff era.

Head coach Urban Meyer seemed to have a quick answer when he met with the media on Wednesday afternoon.

Meyer spent most of his time railing against the balancing act needed to be done for his roster. On the one hand there are still NFL decisions to be made, on the other there is a national signing day to focus on.

“What I’ve had happen to me is I’ve talked to several players, and my answer to them — because we’re straightforward with them — is that I don’t know if I have a scholarship right now because I don’t know who’s leaving for the NFL Draft,” said Meyer, via Bucknuts. “A couple times, more than a couple, I got a comment back saying, ‘Coach, this school is telling me if I don’t sign on (December) 20th, I’m out. They’re taking my scholarship offer.'”

Clearly that has irked Meyer, who was no fan of this move to begin with.

But, it points out a unique situation for the Buckeyes, who along with teams like Alabama, Clemson and a few other select programs have a lot more fluctuation in a roster due to numerous NFL early entrant decisions.

For the rest of the college football world, early entrants aren’t really a thought or they are easily identifiable as the process goes on.

It means the Buckeyes head coach must keep a list of players who could leave in the back of his mind, yet still not know exactly who will or won’t be back. That leaves him guessing as to the real number of players that could be added to a class.

When you’re in the running for the No. 1 class in the country like Ohio State was and still is, the timeframe moving up isn’t the best thing in the world. At least that seems to be the early return on the 3-day period that began on Wednesday morning.

Meyer certainly isn’t going to be shy in sharing his thoughts and learning from others in the coaching game.

“I don’t know right now,” he said. “I’m anxious to go to the head coaches’ meetings and listen. Do I think it’s all negative? I was really dead-set against it. I’m looking at this (list of signees) right here, dead set against what? That’s unbelievable. But I think there’s going to be some very good dialogue, and I want to listen.”

We’re guessing Meyer is going to put his two cents in toward eliminating the early signing period or completely blowing up the system as we know it.

What’s happening after day one of the first early singing period certainly showed this change may not be good for the Buckeyes. It also showed there is going to be some work ahead of him for the 2018 recruiting cycle unlike some other coaches.

That also means the Buckeyes and other “brand name” programs are going to have to stretch the recruiting efforts thinner than others. While many programs will be done by Frida and off to the races on the 2019 class in earnest, OSU likely won’t be so lucky.

With NFL decisions looming and roster spots either going unfilled or filled by players the Buckeyes wouldn’t normally be recruiting, what happens on February’s singing day should be very interesting.

To that end, names like DE Jayson Oweh, DE Tyreke Smith, DL Tyler Friday, OT Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT Rasheed Walker, LB Solomon Tuliaupupu, are all ones that OSU is in the mix for according to Bucknuts.

What seems like a problem today, could end with a very happy Urban Meyer and all this hand-wringing was for not.

But, what should’ve been a celebration of the No. 1 class in the country turned pretty sour by the end of the day and that is what matters most right now.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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