COLUMBUS — The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry took a ripe turn Friday.
Less than two weeks after OSU completed its perfect season with win over UM, the Buckeyes convinced highly sought Massillon Washington cornerback Gareon Conley to trade blue for scarlet.
The former Michigan recruit now plans to sign with Ohio State, his high school coach, Jason Hall, confirmed in an email.
Conley, who will play in next month’s Under Armour All-America Game, was still committed to Michigan when he took in the OSU-UM game on Nov. 24 with other Buckeyes recruits. But he officially reopened his recruitment afterward and visited Ohio State again this week.
The pledge Friday marks the first time coach Urban Meyer has flipped a recruit once committed to UM — and the latest subplot in an off-the-field rivalry that continues to intensify.
Recruiting analysts say the battle between OSU and UM for Ohio’s top recruits is at a level not seen in decades. While the Buckeyes under Meyer have secured a majority of the state’s elite talent, Michigan’s Brady Hoke, a Kettering native, has proven a worthy adversary.
Benefiting in part from the turmoil at OSU last season, Michigan signed two of Rivals.com’s top five Ohio recruits in 2012, including top-ranked offensive lineman Kyle Kalis from Lakewood, and have commitments from six of the state’s top 15 recruits for the 2013 class.
The 6-foot-1, 165-pound Conley caught 50 passes for 1,096 yards as a senior this season, but projects as a cornerback in college. Rated a four-star recruit by Scout.com, three stars by Rivals.com, and the No. 62 overall recruit by ESPN, Conley is the 18th member of OSU’s 2013 class.