Although college football programs are permitted to host 62 official visitors per recruiting cycle, Ohio State will almost use its entire allotment during the month of June, which marks the end of the nearly 15-month long dead period.
In fact, the Buckeyes currently have 51 prospects scheduled to take an official visit next month and expect to welcome 150-200 others on unofficial visits.
“Obviously, for one month, it’s very overwhelming,” Ohio State director of player personnel Mark Pantoni said during his media availability on Friday morning. “In a normal year, we probably get get into the high 40s to low 50s, so this is pretty extraordinary.
“It’s exciting. We’re just trying to take it day by day right now, but starting next Tuesday, it’s on. It’s all hands on deck and we’re going to do everything we can to just make it as smooth as possible.”
In order to give them more attention, the Buckeyes are planning to host official visitors on the weekends. Unofficial visitors, meanwhile, are encouraged to make their way to campus during the week, which is when one-day camps will be held, as well.
“We have to hit a home run while we have them here because we're not sure if it's going to be the one and only time we have,” Pantoni said. “We just have to assume that it is and hit it out of the park with them and just show all the facts and why we think this place is the best place for them.”
In addition to the one-day camps, which were not held last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA has also permitted unofficial visitors to go through one-hour evaluation periods with coaches while on campus. That alone will make the summer months even more stressful than usual.
“Every day is going to be crazy. There’s not going to be any days off,” Pantoni said. “I think it’s a great problem to have. It’s been almost two years since anyone’s been able to visit, so the kids are excited and the staff’s excited to finally see these people up front rather than these constant Zooms.
“The good thing is we’re not in season right now, so it’s all hands on deck in the building. It’s just my job and (director of on-campus recruiting) Erin Dunston’s job just to be as organized as possible for when they get on campus with so many kids that we have a great plan and envision anything that could possibly go wrong and be prepared for it.”
Of course, the first weekend in June will set the tone for the month, as the staff is set to welcome all 12 commits and several other high-priority targets to campus for what has been coined Buckeye Bash 2.0.
“We discussed that as a staff and we just felt like since they've been so loyal to us, we wanted them to get here that first weekend, just because they deserve it,” Pantoni said. “They deserve to all be here together, get to know each other. They are our best recruiters. Them along with our current players.”
From there, the focus becomes making a lasting impression on the prospects, especially since they’ll also be visiting several other schools during the month of June.
“I’ve brought it up to our coaches,” Pantoni said. “It’s kind of like we’re putting all our chips in right now in the month of June. A lot of these guys we may never get back (on campus) before the December signing period. That’s a long time to go, so that impression may lose a lot of its luster.
“A lot of the top guys we’re going after right now, these next four weeks, are going to be taking visits every weekend. For a top guy who may be visiting this first weekend, and then going on three more trips after, is that feeling of Ohio State still going to last? Obviously the red carpet is going to be rolled out everywhere. We just have to do a great job and after the visit do a great job staying in touch.”
As for when the month ends and the recruiting calendar goes back into a dead period for the majority of July, Pantoni already has some ideas in mind.
“It’s going to be a rough one,” Pantoni said. “In the month of July, my phone’s probably going to be turned off and nobody’s going to track me down.”
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