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Out-of-state programs that have done best job recruiting Ohio

Michael Drennan II
Michael Drennan II (Nick Lucero/

It is no surprise that Ohio State has a strong grip on in-state prospects over the last few recruiting cycles and many of those elite players stay home to play for the Buckeyes. But there are some out-of-state programs who manage to grab some players.

When evaluating the last four recruiting classes of committed or signed prospects in the 2021, 2020, 2019 and 2018 classes of top-20 players from each group, Ohio State has landed 19 of them. Cincinnati has gotten a surprisingly high eight recruits during that stretch, to tie any out-of-state team.

From there, the lists get interesting.

In an interview with the Toledo Blade, former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said, “I don’t feel the street fight at all,” when it comes to Michigan coming into the state and poaching some of Ohio’s top players away from the Buckeyes and other programs.

Breaking down the numbers, that seems to be the case. The state of Ohio is fertile recruiting territory and many programs have made their mark with top-20 prospects over the last few years. Here’s a look at the top ones:

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Top 20 Ohio signees/commitments: 8

During this four-year stretch, Michigan State started off really well with four signees in the 2018 class alone out of the top-20 in the state of Ohio in TE Trenton Gillison, CB Xavier Henderson, LB Chase Kline and CB Michael Dowell. The Spartans were making real headway in the state but over the last three recruiting cycles including 2021, they’ve cooled off with only four more total commits or signees in LB Luke Fulton, WR Tre’Von Morgan, DB Angelo Grose and LB Devin Hightower. Still, Michigan State is doing just as good a job recruiting the state as any other team nationally not named Ohio State.

Farrell’s take: The Spartans are surprisingly No 1 here and it speaks to the job Mark Dantonio did in his time at Michigan State. They don’t get many guys that make massive impacts but a good part of their roster is talent from Ohio and they need to continue that under Mel Tucker. Who would have thought the Spartans would be ahead of Michigan here?


Top 20 Ohio signees/commitments: 7

The Kentucky campus is less than 90 miles from the hotbed of Cincinnati talent - closer than Ohio State - so it makes sense that the Wildcats would have success there landing Jutahn McClain, Chris Oats and Brenden Bates from the area. But coach Mark Stoops and his staff scored some other huge recruiting wins across the state by landing four-star running back Michael Drennen II, RB Torrance Davis and OL Darian Kinnard out of the Cleveland area and four-star DB Moses Douglass from Springfield, Ohio. Kentucky has drastically picked up its recruiting in the last few years and winning the state of Ohio has been a big reason for the Wildcats’ success.

Farrell’s take: You can’t mention Kentucky and Ohio without mentioning Vince Marrow and the job the coach has done with the Wildcats. He’s the team’s lead recruiter in the state and he does a great job not only stealing under-the-radar kids but winning head-to-head battles. Kentucky has become a thorn in the side of many in the state.


Top 20 Ohio signees/commitments: 5

The last time Michigan landed the top player from the state of Ohio was in 2012 with Kyle Kalis and while the Wolverines have gotten plenty of top talent from there, it’s not like they ever dominated as Ohio State and others have held them off. Over the last four recruiting cycles, success has come in waves for Michigan as it landed three players - Nolan Rumler, Erick All and Zach Carpenter - in the 2019 class and the Wolverines already have two pledges in 2021 with Rod Moore and Markus Allen. Michigan didn’t get any top-20 players from Ohio in 2018 or 2020.

Farrell’s take: This isn’t surprising as you’d expect Michigan to be up here. Jim Harbaugh has done a solid job hitting the state, although more was expected and Meyer and Ryan Day have done a good job keeping Michigan at bay. This number needs to improve for Michigan.


Top 20 Ohio signees/commitments: 3 each

Northwestern has had particular success with top players in the state of Ohio in recent recruiting cycles with two commitments from there in 2021 in DE Najee Story and LB Aidan Hubbard and the Wildcats added RB Cameron Porter in 2020. Purdue did all its damage there in the 2019 recruiting class with Steven Faucheux, Mershawn Rice and Dontay Hunter all included in that class.

Farrell’s take: Northwestern and Purdue ahead of Notre Dame? That’s very interesting and why each has had their moments in the Big Ten and continue to be a presence in the state.

NOTES: The other programs to land commits or signed players from the top 20 players in the state of Ohio over the last four recruiting cycles are Penn State, Notre Dame and West Virginia with two each and then Alabama, Arizona State, Ball State, Clemson, Florida State, Duke, Iowa, Iowa State, LSU, Minnesota, TCU, Virginia, Wake Forest and Wisconsin all with one each.