This year, the Ohio State Buckeyes consistently held a top slot in the recruiting rankings and finished with the No. 4 class in the nation.
Behind Nick Bosa, 247Sports lists 15 four-star commitments going to Ohio State either this coming Fall or that have already begun attending. Listed by the same network as the No. 76 overall high school player, wide receiver Austin Mack is pretty close to the top of the talent that will help reload the Buckeyes for 2016 and onward.
Mack’s top four schools while being recruited were Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Tennessee, as he described to me on the phone. The difference in his decision certainly wasn’t any singular thing, but it was apparent that he really appreciated the down-to-Earth attitude that the Buckeyes coaches had when speaking with him.
“All coaches were pretty hands-on, you know, really active in my recruitment,” Mack told me. “But what really stood out was just the fact that they were being really real with me, you know? They were being straight forward. They weren’t selling themselves as much as some schools would.” He later jokingly mentioned that the Buckeyes had thrown one or two mentions of “the state of North” while they were visiting.
“And for someone like Urban Meyer to be so active in my recruitment, that was a huge difference also, ” he added.
Having coached the Gators and Buckeyes to three college championships, Urban Meyer giving you a friendly call to chat about your college football future certainly carries its own kind of weight. But when it comes down to replenishing an offense that is losing a significant amount of players to the draft – namely Ezekiel Elliott amid seven predicted first-rounders – Meyer and the Buckeyes saw that Mack clearly fit the bill.
In three years of varsity play, Mack notched 5,001 total yards – receiving, rushing, and returning – according to Max Preps. His biggest receiving year came as a junior when he put up 1,062 yards and scored 15 times. However, his yard-per-catch mark soared to 19.6 and he accumulated over 700 yards rushing in his senior season.
Given Meyer’s affinity for bringing out the best in his most versatile players, the Buckeyes have every reason to expect a mutually-successful relationship with their newest weapon. Translation: you better believe you’ll be hearing his name soon.
All signs from our conversation pointed toward his excitement in joining one of college’s football winningest cultures, top to bottom, from special team to quarterback.
Speaking of which, what does he think about J.T. Barrett, his quarterback of the future?
“A guy who I’d love to look up to and talk to as a leader. He’s a great competitor. I’m very proud to go play with him as my quarterback.”
Buckeyes fans can rest assured they’ll be watching the Barrett-to-Mack connection in 2016, a season when the latter will be helping the former chase more Heisman recognition. And if everything goes as planned, there will be plenty of spotlight for both.