Today’s Topic: What Was Ryan Day’s Biggest Recruiting Challenge?
On December 4, Ryan Day was named Urban Meyer’s successor as the head football coach at Ohio State. That announcement began his quickly ticking clock towards the February signing day.
Day had nine weeks to prepare for the Rose Bowl, put his staff together, ingratiate himself with the current players, get to know each of OSU’s commits as well as a head coach should, and still find the time to sign a handful of new commits.
Day’s staff took shape shortly after the Rose Bowl, as was expected. With just one month between the bowl game and signing day, recruits had to know which position coaches they would be playing under.
Day’s staff was finalized with a couple of weeks to spare, and when the nine weeks were all over and the letters of intent were signed, the Buckeyes had lost two 2020 commits — possibly temporarily, one 2019 commit, added five signees — including 5-star defensive end Zach Harrison, landed a transfer from former 5-star quarterback Justin Fields, and lost just two players to transfer.
Nobody expected it to be perfect. It never is. But things could have ended up much, much worse.
While Day was out looking for coaches and schmoozing recruits, the players back at Ohio State could have been wondering if OSU was still where they wanted to be. Recruits who had signed with Urban Meyer could have been asking themselves that same question. And forget about signing anybody new. That would have been asking too much.
Ryan Day had challenges every day, and every day he was on the phone or on a plane or in a living room facing those challenges. What could have been an opportunity for mayhem was barely a blip on the crisis radar.
“I think the biggest challenge early on is getting to know everybody,” Day said. “Then when the staff got put into place, we still wanted those guys to make sure they built relationships with 2019s. The loyalty there was off the charts, the families we made connections with, recruiting, has been awesome. Then going with the 2020s.”
Loyalty wasn’t just coming from recruits and their families, however. It was also prevalent throughout the program, and Day made sure throughout bowl prep to talk to all of the players, just as he had done back in the summer. Even though the head coach was changing, Day wanted to make sure his players — and recruits — knew that Ohio State was going to remain the same.
“When you look at what we’ve done as a culture since August, with the coaching change, we’ve only had two guys leave the program, Keandre Jones, Tate Martell,” Day said. “One was a grad transfer, one a quarterback. When you keep the retention like that, it shows about the culture in the coaching change, but also it isn’t about signing 27 guys, because you’re retaining guys. Guys want to stay in the program. That’s the strength of our team right now.”