By Jim Naveau
COLUMBUS – Urban Meyer asked Taylor Decker for one day. He gave him four years.
Decker, the senior leader of Ohio State’s offensive line, had verbally committed to Notre Dame several months before Meyer took over at OSU in 2012. And Meyer, unlike the previous coaching staff, thought the 6-foot, 8-inch, 315-pound offensive tackle from Vandalia Butler High School needed to be a Buckeye.
Four years later, going into his final game at Ohio Stadium on Saturday against Michigan State, Decker is a three-year starter who could be a high-round NFL draft choice.
Earlier this week, Decker remembered what Meyer told him when he asked for one day.
“Coach Meyer said, ‘Just give me one day. Just come up here and visit one day and if you don’t like it, I’ll leave you alone. I won’t bother you and you can go to Notre Dame.”
Meyer and Decker had talked before that day. So he might have known Decker would consider being recruited by Ohio State something very far from being bothered. For him, it was more like winning the lottery.
“Growing up, I always wanted to play here,” Decker said. “I wanted to come here, it was just none of the (old) coaches wanted me to come here. I wanted to but they didn’t want me to.”
Two of the new coaches at OSU on Meyer’s staff were at Notre Dame when the Irish offered Decker. Tim Hinton recruited him and Ed Warinner would have been his position coach.
Decker said the two former Notre Dame assistants being at Ohio State was not a major factor in changing his mind.
But the fact that the two coaches he had developed a relationship with at Notre Dame no longer were going to be there might have made it easier to decommit.
Changing his commitment wasn’t entirely stress free, Decker said.
“Maintaining that commitment was kind of a loyalty thing. I had said for eight months I was going to go to that school. At the end of the day, though, with that kind of decision you have to be selfish,” Decker said. “It has worked out pretty well.”
Decker had a tough introduction to the starting lineup in a 40-20 win over Buffalo in 2013 when he had to line up against future top five NFL draft pick Khalil Mack, who had 2.5 sacks and an interception that day.
But at right tackle that season and at left tackle the last two seasons he has been one of the mainstays on OSU’s offensive line.
In another twist to the story, Michigan State offensive line coach Jim Bollman was one of the former Ohio State coaches who didn’t try to recruit Decker.
“He didn’t want me, either. So hopefully we win,” Decker said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.