Nation's Top Pass Rusher Latest to Commit to Ohio State
By Tony Gerdeman
As if the Buckeyes haven't received enough good news on the recruiting trail over the last few weeks, perhaps the best news of all broke on Sunday night with word that Pennsylvania defensive end Noah Spence (6-4 245) had committed to Urban Meyer.
As first reported by Bob Lichtenfels at Scout.com, Spence, out of Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, finally made it known that he is going to be a Buckeye.
A five-star prospect by all four major recruiting services, Spence took his official visit to Ohio State over the weekend, and quickly came to the realization that there was nowhere else for him to be.
The weekend didn't start out all that great, however, as Spence's high school football team lost 52-0 in the state championship game, but things picked up for him on Saturday and Sunday in Columbus.
Originally planning to announce his intentions at the Under Armour All-American Game on ESPN January 5th, he just didn't feel like waiting any longer.
"It just felt right -- the family atmosphere, the great coaches," Spence told ESPN. "The players want to win and the coaches want to win, and they're trying to build something that I want to be a part of. I wanted to get it out the way. It felt right, so, you know, why not?"
Spence finished the season with 106 tackles, with 12.5 sacks and 27 tackles for loss. His speed off the edge and ability to change directions makes him yet another ideal defensive end/linebacker hybrid that used to be known as a "Leo" at Ohio State.
Based strictly on recruiting rankings, Spence's commitment is the biggest get for Meyer as Ohio State's head coach. ESPN has him as their fourth-ranked prospect overall. Scout has him at sixth, Rivals has him ninth, and 247 Sports ranks him the 14th-best prospect overall in the 2012 class.
Spence wasn't thinking seriously about Ohio State until he received a phone call from Urban Meyer on the very same day that Meyer was introduced as the Buckeyes' new head coach.
The call was so effective that Spence tweeted that Ohio State was "definitely at the top of the list for now". It was clear from that point that if a simple phone call could sway Spence so greatly, then Meyer would likely to be able to close the deal in person down the road, which he did.
“We did a lot of homework before we went up there. Once we got there, everything just fell in line,” Spence’s father Greg told the Harrisburg Patriot-News. “The emphasis on family and faith is very important. It was starting to get hectic for him and our family.
“We’ve seen quite a few coaches and schools. Why wait any longer? I’m proud of him. And he seems to be happy and content, it’s just beautiful.”
The commitment from Spence, the top player in Pennsylvania, is the fourth on the defensive line for Ohio State in the last month, and third since Meyer has been hired.
Defensive end Adolphus Washington got the ball rolling with his commitment on November 22, citing his excitement to play for Meyer—who had not yet even been named the coach.
Then came Thursday December 12, when defensive tackle Tommy Schutt committed, followed hours later by defensive end Se'Von Pittman. Now with Spence on board and room in this recruiting class shrinking, the Buckeyes are likely done pursuing defensive line prospects.
Spence was named the Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year for 2011, but was just as impressive as a junior, finishing with 102 tackles, with 22 sacks and 33 tackles for loss. He also recorded 17.5 sacks combined during his freshman and sophomore years.
The last time Ohio State landed the top prospect in Pennsylvania was 2008 with Terrelle Pryor. The last time Urban Meyer did it, however, was 2010 with defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd.
When they sign, the four defensive line commits in the 2012 class will join five signees from the 2011 class to form a deep and talented front four for years to come.
The nucleus for success starts up front, and the Buckeyes have certainly addressed their defensive line with emphasis over the last two years. The Ohio State coaches were looking for an explosive speed rusher in this class, and it appears that they have finally found him.
But for Spence, he was intent on finding a place that felt like home, and once he did, there was no reason for him to keep looking.
"I can see where I'm going to be at for the next four years," Spence told ESPN. "I'll always have my family at McDevitt, but now I'll be building a new family and helping a new family out."
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