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Recruiting: Meyer's persona no Urban legend

AP
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has a talent for recruiting, and he has had success attracting WPIAL players. AP Photo/Al Goldis, File

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
 

Ohio State is attractive to Western Pennsylvania prospects for a multitude of reasons, from its status as a perennial power in close proximity to Pittsburgh to its fervent following to the number of NFL players its produces.

Nothing about the Buckeyes resonates with WPIAL players as prominently as these two words: Urban Meyer.

When it comes to recruiting prestige and prowess among the region's major college coaches, the Ohio State coach is unmatched.

“Urban's one of the best recruiters in the country as a head coach,” Scout.com recruiting analyst Bob Lichtenfels said.

“He's got that rock-star persona. He's got a swagger about him that a lot of coaches don't have, and he's not afraid to go to any state or any school and compete against anybody.”

Meyer immediately made inroads last December with five-star Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt defensive end Noah Spence, scoring the state's best player for the Buckeyes' top-five recruiting class.

Now, Meyer is in the mix with the three best remaining uncommitted prospects in the WPIAL Class of 2013.

Ohio State offered a scholarship Friday to Clairton's Tyler Boyd, and the Buckeyes are believed to be held in high regard by the four-star receiver.

Central Valley receiver Robert Foster has Ohio State among his finalists, along with Alabama and Pitt, and cited Meyer as a major reason it made the cut.

Belle Vernon offensive tackle Dorian Johnson also has Ohio State high on his list, along with Pitt and Virginia Tech, after backing out of his Penn State pledge.

This isn't to suggest that Meyer always gets his man, but rather that Pitt has competition for Foster and Johnson and that West Virginia might no longer be in the lead for Boyd.

It's also possible that Ohio State has turned its focus from Foster to Boyd, or is investing in a backup plan.

WPIAL stars have had varied success at Ohio State, but none played for Meyer so he gets a clean slate.

“Nowadays, just because it's Pennsylvania, not every kid is going to go to Penn State or Pittsburgh,” Lichtenfels said. “With Ohio kids, nine of 10 go to Ohio State if given the opportunity. Ohio State has been a top-five program for however many years, and Pitt and Penn State haven't. They're the sexy team now.”

With the coach who has rock-star persona and a reputation for recruiting.

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