For the first time since the Rose Bowl, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day spoke with reporters on Wednesday.
He can be forgiven for his long absence, as he was closing out a recruiting class and putting together a coaching staff.
The purpose for speaking on Wednesday was the annual signing day press conference, but there was also plenty more on the docket.
Day covered a large number of topics over a 45-minute session, including his new coaching staff, the 2019 signees, and newest quarterback Justin Fields.
There was a lot that was said, and plenty stood out. All of it was worthwhile, but here are my 10 takeaways from what I saw and heard from the Buckeyes’ head coach.
1. He acknowledged scholarship numbers. Surprisingly, Day said OSU was at 83 scholarships prior to signing Enokk Vimahe. It wasn’t the number that was surprising, but that Day actually acknowledged where the Buckeyes were. Whenever Urban Meyer was asked about numbers on signing day, or spring ball, or heading closer and closer to fall camp, he would never give a number. In fact, most times he would say he wasn’t entirely sure. He would simply say they’d be okay by the time August rolled around. Some coaches won’t even acknowledge they have players, let alone how many are on scholarship.
2. Day was putting his staff together during bowl prep. Day was asked when he last talked to Jim Harbaugh, and he said it was December. These calls were about putting his staff together. The timeline isn’t surprising, but again, to hear Day be so open about when things were occurring was interesting. He also said that his decision to replace coaches wasn’t about trying to fix the 2018 defense in time for 2019, but rather putting together a defensive staff that he can see here in three or four years down the line.
3. Freshman receiver Garrett Wilson is only going to get better. I mean, this is obvious, but the reasoning for it may not be. Day said that Wilson plays sports other than just football and has never really been able to full concentrate on one sport until now. He is already a natural pass catcher and athlete who is an advanced route runner, and now he’s about to become a full-time football player. Do the math.
4. Mike Yurcich is learning the offense alongside Justin Fields. As quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator, Mike Yurcich has got a lot to learn about the Ohio State offense, which he is doing alongside sophomore quarterback transfer Justin Fields. The good thing about this is that Yurcich said on Wednesday that he doesn’t mind asking stupid questions, and he will no doubt be asking questions for his quarterbacks’ benefit too. This will be an interesting and beneficial way for Fields to learn the offense, which he is trying to do as quickly as possible.
5. Day felt Hawaii offensive lineman Enokk Vimahi was worth the effort. It struck me as a bit surprising that Ohio State would put so much effort into landing a player that may not be in line for a starting position until 2023, but Day had no qualms about it. I guess that tells you how good they think he is going to be eventually. Vimahi is planning on playing one year of college football and then leaving for a 2-year church mission and then returning to Ohio State. Regarding the mission trip, Day said Vimahi’s family would discuss the matter following the season and see where things stand.
6. Day is being more aggressive in Ohio. I wrote a few days ago about Ohio State being more aggressive in Ohio’s sophomore class right now, which Day acknowledged on Wednesday. Urban Meyer had mentioned in the past that OSU has to make sure they want an Ohio prospect before they offer him because he may commit on the spot. Day’s stance is that it’s okay to come to that decision a little sooner than they have been. Not every player will qualify for an offer after just two years in high school, so this won’t be an all-encompassing stance, but it appears as though Day is okay with leaning more towards an offer than not for those players on the bubble (provided there is a need).
7. Zach Harrison is already getting better. Harrison was always ranked as much on his physical measurables and potential as his production. We have written many stories about why that is, and on Wednesday, Day said he has already seen an improvement in Harrison. The workouts and strength training have gone well for Harrison and he is taking to all of it. If his ability to soak in the defensive line teachings is as effective as his ability to grow during strength training, then the Buckeyes are going to be very happy.
8. Cormontae Hamilton was mentioned as a fullback. At 6-foot-2 and 263 pounds, freshman Cormantae Hamilton is a uniquely-sized tight end prospect. When describing him, Day mentioned the terms H-back and fullback. The H-back in this case would be more of the NFL variety as an extra tight end used in the backfield as a blocker. The Buckeyes have already done that under Urban Meyer, but it was just interesting to hear the “F word” mentioned at Ohio State again. By the way, Day also mentioned that Mike Yurcich used a tight end as a fullback in some run personnels as well at Oklahoma State.
9. Day has some transfer rules ideas. Even though the reporting of waiver requests has grown over the last couple of years, not everybody plays immediately. Players without a reason to be deemed immediately eligible are still going to have to sit out a season. Day would like to see those players be given that year back at the end of their career. His other idea was to limit the number of transfers that a school can take to two per year. The first idea is common, but the second was new to me. I do wonder what happens when a player enters the Transfer Portal and has his scholarship pulled, then can’t find a place he wants to play because they already took their two transfers.
10. Expect there to be a Transfer Portal Monitor on OSU’s staff soon. Welcome to the new normal in college football. The Transfer Portal is here and it must be dealt with. That is Ryan Day’s attitude, anyway. Ohio State won’t ever need to be reliant upon transfers, but it would be a disadvantage for them not to keep up to speed on who is looking for a new home. So Day has Mark Pantoni’s staff monitoring it every day and even said they may have to designate part of the recruiting department to monitor it full time.