COLUMBUS, Ohio -- To go into any of the hotbeds of high school football and pluck away a single player in a state where your school doesn't have an established presence figures to be a daunting task for any recruiter in college football. But not Ohio State's Tom Herman.
Outside of head coach Urban Meyer and the players themselves, the Buckeyes' offensive coordinator could be considered OSU's star on a National Signing Day that saw the school seal the deal on not just one or two, but three players from talent-heavy Texas. And according to the second-year Ohio State assistant, it wasn't as hard for him to do as you'd think.
"It's not challenging when you go 12-0 and Urban Meyer's your head coach and you're wearing the block O on your shirt," Herman said on Wednesday. "Those three things certainly help you."
Those factors- among others- helped Herman enough to land a trio of talented Texans in quarterback J.T. Barrett, athlete Dontre Wilson, and linebacker Mike Mitchell. Both Barrett and Wilson rank as four-star prospects, while Mitchell is one of two five-star signees in OSU's 2013 class.
With Herman having spent the first 11 years of his coaching career in the Lone Star State during stops at Texas Lutheran, Texas, Sam Houston State, Texas State, and Rice, Meyer admitted that the 37-year-old's Texas ties were appealing to him when he hired Herman before the 2012 season.
"I knew very well Tom had a background in Texas and I knew he's a good recruiter, because I did the homework before we hired him. Very good recruiter," Meyer said. "That was all part of the deal."
Recruiting players to play for the Longhorns or even Rice is one thing, but to convince them to come up north to Columbus? That's a different story. By Meyer's own admittance, the Buckeyes' haven't found much success recruiting the United States' second-most populated state in recent years, with former OSU headman Jim Tressel securing just three commitments from Texas in his 11 years at the school.
While the Buckeyes have maintained strong pipelines to Florida and, to a lesser degree, California, Texas has seemingly been left out of Ohio State's targeted territories, but not anymore. According to Herman, the key to his success during the recent recruiting season came from taking the same approach any coach would take to leaving the friendly confines of Ohio.
"The biggest thing in the state of Texas, and really any out of state recruiting area, is- to say that we're going to go in to the state of Texas and beat Texas and Texas A&M and Oklahoma on any kid that we want- that's not going to happen," Herman said. "You've got to find and identify the kids that A. Fit your need, and then B. Have that reciprocated interest in you, and then you continue to recruit those guys and let the chips fall where they may at the end."
And while following that plan certainly didn't hurt in landing Barrett, Wilson, and Mitchell, neither did all that Ohio State has going for itself at the moment.
"Recruiting is about relationships and it is about developing that over a period of time," Herman said. "But at the same time, we were fortunate enough to as Coach Meyer puts it, be a little bit of the flavor of the month and have Coach Meyer and his track record and obviously this great university and its support system."
Add all of that up, and you get a new pipeline in Ohio State's arsenal. But although Herman is quick to credit Meyer's success for his own, the two-time national champion head coach knows that exploring the new land that he is wouldn't be possible without the presence that his offensive coordinator is making in it.
"Tom Herman did an excellent job down in Texas, an area that traditionally has not been strong for Ohio State. I wish I could claim I had more experience in Texas," Meyer said. "Texas was a new one. Tom Herman's footprint on that that really helped us."