Even though he’s only been on the job for a little while, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day has already made an impact on the recruiting trail.
Along with defensive line coach Larry Johnson, the two of them were instrumental in keeping Central Ohio defensive end Zach Harrison from heading out of state.
Harrison is not the first Columbus-area 5-star product to feel the pressure of staying home and the allure of branching out and searching for the unfamiliar.
Rising senior defensive end Jonathon Cooper was a local 5-star signee in the 2016 class and finally broke through into the starting lineup this past season.
As a local product there is added pressure, but at Ohio State pressure is just part of the job, which Harrison will find in due time.
“Yeah, there definitely was pressure,” Cooper said recently. “Being the hometown kid, it can definitely add pressure, because everybody expects more of you. But I feel like when it comes to football players, nobody holds us to a higher standard than we do ourselves. I know with the pressure that came, I just knew if I kept working hard and trusted my coaches that I would be in the position that I am right now.”
Back to the Wall
If a conversation takes place about the 2018 Ohio State Buckeyes, it won’t be long before the linebackers are discussed. Specifically, how the group struggled and wasn’t as productive as they were expected to be.
Middle linebacker Tuf Borland had to come back from an Achilles injury, Pete Werner was asked to cover every inch of the field, regardless of player he was defending, and Malik Harrison finished well after a slow start.
There were good moments, bad moments, and a lot of moments that should have never happened.
With a new linebackers coach on hand now in Al Washington, expectations are that things will improve. That is the expectation of the linebackers as well, but they’re not looking to prove anything to anybody outside of the football facilities.
“Yeah, I mean, I don’t think we’re worried about proving anything to anybody,” Borland said. “We definitely need to keep improving. I’m just saying like we don’t feel the need to prove ourselves to others.”
Johnny Come Lately
Prior to the Rose Bowl, reports and rumors of Justin Fields’ potential transfer were addressed with Buckeye quarterback Tate Martell. Martell was emphatic with his insistence that nobody could come in and win the job in one offseason. He was also emphatic that he wouldn’t be transferring if Fields transferred to Ohio State.
Since that day, Fields has finalized his transfer and Martell is looking to begin his. Some people may assume that Martell’s change of heart was due to a conversation with Ryan Day. That may or may not be the case, but according to Day back in Pasadena, there is always a conversation happening about the present and the future.
“I think there’s always constant communication about their future here and what we think of them and where they are,” he said. “I think that’s a huge part of coaching is making sure you’re constantly talking to the quarterbacks, or any position for that matter, about where they are and where their expectations are moving forward. So there’s always communication.”
I Ain’t Ever Satisfied
Ohio State is losing head coach Urban Meyer, record-setting quarterback Dwayne Haskins, running back Mike Weber, three productive receivers, and three starting offensive linemen.
Sure, Ryan Day and Kevin Wilson return, and they add Mike Yurcich, so that’s plenty of offensive brainpower, but is the manpower there?
The Buckeyes will have a new starting quarterback, new starters along the offensive line, and a new reliance upon some young skill players.
In other words, Buckeye fans might want to expect a bit of a drop-off in 2019.
Not according to receiver KJ Hill.
“I don’t feel like there’s going to be a drop-off,” he said. “Coach Day turned the offense around and now him being the head coach, it probably is going to be even more explosive being the OC going to a head coach. But yeah, like I say, I feel like it’s not going to be a drop-off.”