Since becoming the second verbal commitment to Ohio State's 2012 recruiting class 16 months ago, St. Francis de Sales (Columbus, Ohio)
running back Warren Ball
believes he might have learned a few life lessons.
As he watched the Buckeyes go through the firing of Jim Tressel, a 6-7 finish last fall under interim coach Luke Fickell and the addition of Urban Meyer as coach last November, the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder couldn't help but realize he's grown through the experience.
"When you're dedicated through something you might experience adversity, but if you stick with it, nothing but good things will happen," said Ball, who is the No. 9-ranked big back according to MaxPreps.
Perhaps the worst really is behind Ball and a class that had stretched to 25 by late afternoon on National Signing Day.
After initially reeling in Kyle Kalis
of St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio)
as a verbal commit in September of 2010, the No. 15-ranked offensive tackle switched his commitment to Michigan last July amid the turmoil enveloping OSU's program. Also last summer, McKinley (Canton, Ohio)
defensive lineman Sevon Pittman
announced he was choosing Michigan State over Ohio State.
After offensive lineman Pat Elflein
of Pickerington North (Ohio)
verballed to Ohio State in mid-July last year, Ohio State reeled in only one additional player until Meyer was on board in late November.
The verbal commitment of Taft (Cincinnati)
defensive lineman Adolphus Washington
on Nov. 22, however, began a string of success. Washington is ranked 49th overall and seventh among defensive ends according to MaxPreps.
Pittman, who is ranked 11th among defensive ends by MaxPreps, switched his commitment to Ohio State on Dec. 12. On the same day, the No. 47 overall player, Tommy Schutt
of Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn, Ill.)
, also verballed to the Buckeyes.
Then Noah Spence
of Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, Pa.)
verballed to Ohio State on Dec. 18. Spence is the No. 3-ranked recruit overall including the top-ranked defensive end according to MaxPreps.
OSU also added a few late surprises, such as the signings of cornerback Armani Reeves
from Catholic Memorial School (West Roxbury, Mass.)
, defensive end Jamal Marcus
from Hillside (Durham, N.C.)
and offensive tackle Kyle Dodson
from Cleveland Heights (Ohio)
Dodson formally had verballed to Wisconsin while Marcus chose the Buckeyes over East Carolina.
The late run of success in recruiting helped OSU's class rank No. 3 nationally
"I am so happy, just so happy to be a Buckeye," Marcus told the Columbus Dispatch. "It's just the whole thing about Ohio State, the coaches, coach Meyer, the competition, the school – just everything about it told me to pick Ohio State."
For players such as outside linebacker Joshua Perry
from Olentangy (Lewis Center, Ohio)
, Ohio State long had been the No. 1 choice. Perry was the first OSU recruit for 2012 more than 18 months ago whose dream it has been since childhood to play for the Buckeyes. He is ranked No. 180 overall and the No. 7 player at his position according to MaxPreps.
Perry is already enrolled at Ohio State but attended a ceremony celebrating his signing and those of several other athletes at Olentangy early in the morning of Feb. 1.
"I knew I was going to get the best in terms of coaching because it was the Ohio State University and you know you're going to get good bowl games in the future," Perry said. "There was never any doubt."
If the past two months are an accurate gauge, then the turbulence that players like Ball and Perry have experienced might just be calming enough to provide some enjoyment.
"Coach Meyer is a high-intensity guy that cares about his players, and he has really high expectations for us," Perry said. "He's been able to bring in the best talent in America, especially the past few months. When I first committed it was obviously to play for coach Tressel, and he did a lot of wonderful things for the University. When they let him go, they had coach Fickell and I thought he was a competent coach, but coach Meyer is a known winner."Jarrod Ulrey has covered prep sports for ThisWeekSPORTS.com for 17 years and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.