Ohio University’s response to National Signing Day indicates just how much the process has changed in a relatively short period of time.
Head coach Frank Solich wasn’t in town for Wednesday, the first day of the late signing period. OU’s former recruiting coordinator wasn’t around after leaving for another job at Appalachian State.
And the Bobcats signed just four more recruits on Wednesday.
Instead, Ohio Associate Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator Tim Albin and Ryan Bainbridge — OU’s Director of Player Personnel and High School Relations — answered questions about the 2020 recruiting cycle in a low-key affair on the fifth floor of the Peden Stadium towers.
For all intents and purposes, it felt like most days. With the advent of the early signing date — in mid-December — the February date no longer becomes the most important date in the recruiting cycle.
Ohio did the bulk of its work for the 2020 class in December — like most programs do nowadays — when it received binding National Letters of Intent from 11 players. With the four additions on Wednesday, OU’s class of 2020 stands at just 15. The Bobcats knew all along it was going to be a small class.
“There’s no room for error in the smaller classes,” Bainbridge said. “The guys that we have we’ve been recruiting for a long time.”
Solich was out of town on a fundraising trip with other Ohio Athletic Department brass. Brian Haines, OU’s former recruiting director, is settling in with App State. Neither affected the names or players inked officially on Wednesday, Bainbridge said.
“I don’t think so, no,” he said. “There are some preferred walk-on type players that we’ll announce later in the off-season that decided to stick with us, players that (Haines) had a relationship with.
“Everyone inside this building is pretty happy (about the class) though, I can tell you that much.”
In addition to the 11 players signed in December, Ohio announced four new players joining the program on Wednesday. They include:
Cleotis Anglin, 6-3, 220, DE, Lakeland, Fla. (Lakeland HS)
A three-year letter winner and team captain in high school, Anglin notched 58 tackles, 27 tackles for loss, 24 sacks and three pass breakups last fall en route to being names to the All-County (Polk) First Team. Anglin was graded at 0.7597 (two star) by 247sports.com and had other scholarship offers from Citadel and Alabama A&M.
Demond Arter, 6-4, 300, OL, Elkridge, Md. (St. John’s HS)
Earned all-conference honors and was named to the Washington Post All-Met team as an honorable mention as the starting right tackle for a power program located in Washington, D.C. Rated at 0.892, Arter was graded as the 17th best prospect in D.C. last season and had offers from Buffalo and ECU, and interest from Rutgers, Kansas and Nebraska.
Cam Dorsey, 6-0, 200, OLB, Alpharetta, Ga. (Alpharetta HS)
Dorsey was a team captain and racked up 140 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 17 pass breakups over his last two seasons in high school. He was named First Team All-Region in 7-AAAAAA in Georgia, and is the second-highest graded player in the Ohio class (0.8313). Dorsey had other offers from Mercer and South Alabama.
Rodney Mathews, 6-2, 275, DT, Memphis, Tenn. (Craigmont HS/Hutchinson CC)
Mathews wasn’t rated by 247sports.com, and is the only junior college signee out of the class. He had 19 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks last season at Hutchinson, and had other offers from Central Michigan, FIU, UMass and South Alabama.
With the four additions, Ohio’s 2020 recruiting class included five offensive linemen, one quarterback, one wide receiver, two defensive tackles, one defensive end, two cornerbacks, one linebacker and one ‘defensive athlete’ in Bryce Kitrell.
Ohio is loaded with offensive skill position players returning from 2019, and the class reflected that, Albin said.
“We were thinking let’s try to get the best we can because we don’t need to sign as many,” Albin said. “And we did that with the offensive line.”
Of Ohio’s seven offensive players signed in the class, four are already enrolled and will take part in spring camp including QB C.J. Harris, WR Keegan Wilburn, and OLs Bryce McNair and Wyatt Walton.
“That’s unbelievable, and big for us,” Albin said.
Ohio also has put three players already on the roster, on scholarship. Wide receiver Chase Coakley (redshirt senior), long snapper Justin Holloway (redshirt sophomore) and place-kicker Tristian Vanderberg (redshirt freshmen) were put on scholarship at the start of the current semester.
With 15 new players, it’s the smallest class in Solich’s 16 years with the program. As such, it wasn’t graded well by national recruiting outlets.
For instance, 247sports.com had the Bobcats’ class ranked 11th in the 12-team Mid-American Conference and 128th nationally. Only one other team in the MAC (Buffalo) signed fewer than 20 players for 2020 and the Bulls were graded 12th.
Ohio had 11 three-star recruits in the class according to 247sports.com — again 11th in the MAC — but the average recruit rating was 0.8045 (7th in the MAC).
But no other program in the MAC has as consistently outperformed the recruiting rankings as Ohio. OU won’t be sweating the perception that the small class will have the Bobcats working behind the curve moving forward.
“We knew going in it was going to be a small class and the media outlets might give us a hit for that,” Bainbridge said. “But we like the guys that we got.
“I’d take 15 of our guys over 25 of another team in the MAC’s.”
Albin, with Solich all 16 years in Athens, was just as blunt. He has a list of non-rated, or two-star recruits readily available on his phone that Ohio has seen turn into some of the best players the program has produced in the last two decades. When anyone gets to talking too much about stars and ratings, he’s provides immediate context on overlooked players from Ohio’s recent past.
For example, the three lowest rated player from the 2018 class included WR Jerome Buckner, OLB Keye Thompson and RB O’Shaan Allison. All three were starters as redshirt freshmen in 2019.
“I could give two cents about those rankings and those stars,” Albin said. “It’s not why or how we do it.”