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How college football coaches help rivals with recruiting

Ohio State was recruiting two under-the-radar skill players from Columbus in the weeks leading into national signing day in 2010, with space to add only one to an already crowded roster and the odds favoring Verlon Reed, a high school quarterback with the athleticism to audition at multiple positions upon his arrival on campus.

Reed’s competition was a three-star running back with limited hype and only a small handful of scholarship opportunities, a prospect who until the final stretch of his recruitment seemed destined to play in the Mid-American Conference. Ohio State liked him — just not enough to extend an offer. Instead, then-coach Jim Tressel called up then-Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, a former Ohio State assistant, and shared what his staff knew about the recruit.

The running back, Le’Veon Bell, would sign with the Spartans and run for 3,346 yards with 34 touchdowns across three seasons, and then blossom into one of the best players at his position in the NFL. Reed, meanwhile, would last two seasons with the Buckeyes before transferring.

Before signing with Michigan State, Le'Veon Bell was being recruited by Ohio State. But when the Buckeyes couldn't find space for him, Bell ended up with the Spartans.

“I don’t feel any regret for it,” said Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell, previously a longtime Ohio State assistant at the time of Bell’s recruitment. “Sometimes it’s not always the best fit where you are, or numbers-wise, or whatever. It probably helped the kid get in a lot better place and get some exposure. And you know they’re going with good people.”

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