Few schools send as many players to the NFL as Ohio State. The halls and walls of the OSU football facilities have photos of these players, showcasing the possible futures of any recruit who is taking a tour.
Ohio State has sold an NFL future to recruits for years, and that will continue under Ryan Day.
But it’s not like OSU will have to hit recruits over the head with it, because they’re already well aware.
Take the case of Georgia transfer quarterback Justin Fields, for instance. Ohio State has no real NFL success story to tell quarterback recruits, but what Dwayne Haskins did last season for the Buckeyes was impossible to miss. Now Haskins will be entering the 2019 NFL Draft as the top quarterback available — after just one season as a starter.
“Just looking based on going back on this and going back on choosing this, I wasn’t really worried about where I went or the climate or whatever,” Fields explained. “I was just worried about the best place to develop me for the next level. So that’s the main thing I was looking for.”
And when looking at coaches, Fields was convinced that Ryan Day was his best option.
“Coach Day, he’s been in the NFL,” Fields said. “He knows what it takes to get quarterbacks to the NFL. And just the offensive mind he has, I can see he’s a smart guy. So that’s why.”
If all goes according to Fields’ plan, he will start for the Buckeyes this year and next, and then head off to the NFL as prepared for his next chapter as Dwayne Haskins.
Players see Buckeye names on draft boards and can easily imagine their own names listed if they follow the same path. The NFL is used as a selling point by Ohio State and so the Buckeye coaches can’t get upset when players buy in.
There are other aspects that will determine whether or a not a player is a good fit, but simply wanting a shot at the NFL is just fine by Day and his coaching staff.
“We don’t apologize for developing guys,” Day said. “To see Dwayne’s development the last two years is pretty remarkable. I think that’s one of the selling points that we have. That’s just one part of it, though. Being able to compete for a national championship, being involved with a culture like we have here, getting around our guys, feeling who we are as a team was also important. That’s just one part of it.”
Not only did Justin Fields see Dwayne Haskins emerge this season as a top NFL prospect, he saw an Ohio State offense that is a dream for any college quarterback. The marriage of Day’s offense with his ability to develop quarterbacks was enough to sell Fields, and appears to be doing well with other players as well.
“For a quarterback, that is important for them,” Day said. “They want to be in an offense where they’re throwing at the high efficiency that we did last year, we’re throwing in an offense where it’s very pro-style oriented, mixed in with the college run game, with RPOs. We think we’re on the cutting edge that way. It’s exciting.
“That’s the response we’re getting from a lot of quarterbacks around the country. That mixed in with the other guys surrounding him, it’s obviously very enticing.”