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May 30, 2011

Many recruits not fazed by Tressel news

MORE TRESSEL: Resigns | What's next? | Wetzel column

The Jim Tressel era is over at Ohio State and Buckeye fans and haters alike are wondering what this means to football recruiting for the Big Ten power. Based on early returns, it won't mean much when it comes to most in-state prospects.

But those growing up outside the confines of Ohio aren't yet sure.

With a continued NCAA investigation into the program, more scathing articles and inflammatory statements rolling out, an interim coach for 2011 and a coaching search in the near future, could things turn sour in Buckeye land?

The resignation of Tressel on Monday morning should not be terribly surprising to prospects following the situation. Many have been calling for the ouster of Tressel for months - in fact, some feel it should have been done sooner once Yahoo! Sports revealed Tressel's string of lies and cover ups.

Tressel was 106-22 at Ohio State, won a national title and seven Big Ten championships, and he now leaves a huge pair of shoes (or sweater vest, as it is) to be filled by the next coach. Assistant coach Luke Fickell takes over for the 2011 season, but a search for a new coach already includes big names such as Urban Meyer, Bob Stoops, Bo Pelini and others.

But in the meantime, what happens to recruiting?

The honest answer, and an answer that fans at Michigan and other Big Ten programs don't want to hear, is that not much should change right now. After the NCAA investigation is finished, things could change. But for now, Ohio State is still Ohio State, a grade A recruiting program that will continue to draw the attention of top players in and out of state.

Ohio State has seven commitments for the class of 2012, all of them hailing from the Buckeye State, and only one of them could end up elsewhere. In fact, Ohio State is likely to gain a commitment on Wednesday despite everything that has happened over the last few months and Monday.

Bedford (Ohio) cornerback Tyvis Powell, one of the top players at his position in the state, has a press conference set for Wednesday.

"I'm still making my announcement on Wednesday," Powell told Rivals.com. "Nothing has changed at all."

After offering Powell a week ago, he quickly planned an announcement ceremony at his school leading everyone to believe that his dream offer had come in. Despite saying that he will choose between the Buckeyes, West Virginia and Michigan State, it appears OSU is a near lock for his commitment and he makes no bones about it.

"It is very unfortunate for coach Tressel but it doesn't affect my decision at all," said Powell of the news. "I didn't hear anything about the business school going down or falling apart and college is college, you go for an education and to play football. Ohio State is Ohio State and it always will be no matter who is wearing the headphones. I want to send a message to everyone that I'm still on board and everyone else should be as well."

When it comes to the current commitments, the same holds true for almost all of them. Running back Warren Ball and tight end Blake Thomas are both very much on board and wide receiver Frank Epitropoulos put on his Facebook this afternoon "Thanks Coach Tressel for giving me the opportunity to play at OSU. You will be missed. Ohio State is still Ohio State and I'm still a Buckeye. Go Bucks!".

Offensive linemen Jacoby Boren and Kyle Kalis and linebacker Josh Perry are also expected to remain solid. However, there is one current commitment who has been affected greatly by the Tressel situation. Running back Bri'Onte Dunn, who had been looking around at other programs since the Tressel trouble began, has been considering Michigan and could make the switch according to many sources. Penn State has also been mentioned as a future home for the talented back.

When it comes to the top targets of the Buckeyes, many are in a state of shock and a holding pattern. Wide receiver Dwayne Stanford, the top player at his position in Ohio, didn't see it coming.

"I was shocked," Stanford said. "I really didn't think he would resign. I always thought he would be there. I thought the NCAA might take some scholarships away, maybe some bowl games, sort of like they did with USC, so this was a complete surprise."

Florida safety Jordan Diggs was equally surprised saying that "Ohio State is in a holding pattern, I still like them and I need to see what they are going to do. Hopefully they will still recruit me because I like them."

Ohio defensive end Greg McMullen, who has Nebraska as his leader, was one player who wasn't surprised.

"I've been following it on SportsCenter for a while now and they compared coach Tressel to past coaches in these situations and they all seemed to resign so I wasn't shocked or surprised," he said. "I just felt it was a matter of time. For me it drops them down a little bit because I now have to see how things are going to be run over there so I'll visit there again and take a look, but I was never a kid who grew up dreaming of playing for one school.

"Even as an in-state kid, I was never locked on Ohio State. There are consequences to each action and that's part of life so I think this was supposed to happen in that respect. But it does drop them down a little bit."

While some were surprised and others expected what came down Monday in Columbus, perhaps the Facebook status of Dwayne Stanford best sums up the reaction of most all of the recruits who had or still have the Buckeyes near the top of their list. Stanford wrote:

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO why? Why? Man darn man!!!!!"

As McMullen pointed out, the why is easy. There are consequences to your actions and Monday, Tressel paid the price. We'll see if his Buckeyes pay for it as well on the recruiting trail. In the short term it likely won't affect much, but the NCAA could have a say in how recruits view the Buckeyes down the road.

Just ask the USC Trojans.



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