Ohio State, as has become customary under Urban Meyer, had yet another productive National Signing Day Wednesday, with a 27-player haul ranked ninth in the country that included the signing of a former Michigan verbal commitment.
It was what happened the following day, Thursday, that has caused controversy in some corners.
Yesterday evening, the Chicago Bears announced that it had hired Stan Drayton as its running backs coach. Drayton held the same title at OSU, and in that capacity played a significant role in recruiting Mike Weber. The Detroit Cass Tech running back, a four-star recruit, struggled with a decision to sign with OSU and UM right up until signing day, ultimately opting for the Buckeyes with a late nudge from Meyer.
And then Drayton left. And then feelings on multiple levels were hurt, most publicly by Weber’s high school coach.
In an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher heavily intimated that the OSU staff had essentially lied to all involved in an effort to get Weber to sign with the Buckeyes, answering “Yes. 100 percent. 100 percent” when asked if he felt he was misled by OSU. The way everything transpired and the timing of the departure of the man who would’ve been Meyer’s position coach left the recruit hurt. And his former coach angry.
Mike Weber is hurt. I could feel it through the telephone. I felt it with him. I wanted to just talk with him and talk him through it. I told him to keep calling me, to keep talking to me about it. I don’t want him to be hurting. I want him to understand this is part of the business, this is what they do. This is how they do things. But you shouldn’t be played as a pawn in the business, though. That’s the problem. Kids shouldn’t be played as a pawn in the business.
I'm hurt as hell I ain't gone lie
— Mike Weber (@mikeweberjr) February 5, 2015
While Drayton didn’t interview for the NFL job until after signing day, there’s little doubt that the interview was scheduled beforehand. What’s also apparent is that neither Drayton nor anyone else at OSU was transparent with Weber about the possibility of Drayton leaving.
Wilcher was asked by the Plain Dealer if it would’ve made a difference in Weber’s decision, knowing that either Drayton was leaving or that he could possibly be leaving.
I don’t know. I am quite sure it made a difference and it would have made a difference in his decision. It would have made a difference in what he wanted to do. But the most important thing is it would have been up to him and his parents. That would have played a big role in what was going on.
Regardless of how things actually played out, don’t look for OSU to sign many if any Cass Tech players for the foreseeable future.
UPDATE [8:50 p.m. EST]: Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer needs very little help on the recruiting trail to lure the nation’s top prospects. However, a pipeline program from that state up north might be far more unwilling to deal with Meyer after a recent kerfuffle with recruit Mike Weber and Detroit Cass Tech Thomas Wilcher over the departure of running backs coach Stan Drayton.
“I think Urban Meyer will have to step his game up; we’re going to have to talk,” Wilcher told Detroit Sports 105.1, via The Detroit News. “He has come to my school and got the No. 1 athlete two years in a row. You cannot come over here, come up to the north, and walk out of here with your pockets full and not give us respect.
“That’s not gonna happen again, I call tell you that right now.”
A year ago, Damon Webb signed with Ohio State out of Cass Tech. And Meyer will have to patch up the relationship with Wilcher if he wants to land the school’s top prospect for the 2016 class, guard Michael Onwenu, who already holds scholarship offers from the Michigan Wolverines, Miami Hurricanes, Illinois Fighting Illini and North Carolina State Wolf Pack.
I spoke to Thomas Wilcher …he has spoken to Meyer and plans to talk to him again tonight. Stressed he's not angry but concerned.
— angelique (@chengelis) February 6, 2015
(Photo credit: Rivals.com)