COLUMBUS — Ohio State head coach Ryan Day met with reporters for the first time in 2023. Even though today is signing day, there was no new news on the recruiting front. The Buckeyes have added several new players through the transfer portal, however, including a new linebackers coach. Day answered questions about each of these topics and also previewed spring ball for Ohio State, which gets underway in five weeks. The highlights of everything Day had to say can be found below.
- Is Day giving up playcalling duties? They’ll go through the spring and talk to Brian Hartline about it. They’ll let Hartline do it some in the spring, but nothing is decided yet.
- The additions in the portal were done to fill needs. All of them fill needs Ja’Had Carter comes in as one of three safeties. He’s already done a nice job. Victor Cutler comes in to work inside. John Ferlmann is in as a long snapper to replace Bradley Robinson. Tristan Gebbia comes in to give OSU a fourth quarterback this year. He’s played in rivalry games, which is a plus. He wants to be a graduate assistant after his eligibility is done. He’s a great addition to the room.
- Why is he more open to giving up playcalling? The demands on a head coach continue to grow. You evaluate everything after the season. You have to look at time management during the season. The middle and end of the season requires him to better manage his time. He is making sure he’s evaluating himself at the end of the day.
- Why was Brian Hartline the pick as offensive coordinator? Hartline has done a great job of succeeding at everything he’s ever done. And he’s maximized himself. He’s done that at Ohio State. He’s the best WR coach in the country. It’s important to become an expert at something, and he is. He took on the role as pass game coordinator last year and did a great job. His recruiting is important. He’ll recruit the entire offensive room. His knowledge of offensive football is excellent. This is a natural step for him. Day also has a very good staff for Hartline to work with. Justin Frye as the run-game coordinator will be a good addition to that as well. He’s the best OL coach in the country.
- Excited to see the two QBs compete. Unbelievable opportunity for both of them. Great surrounding cast. Hoping one of them emerges as a starter in the spring. That would be good for the program.
- Bowl practices allowed both QBs to get work. There were some very competitive practices in there while CJ Stroud was away. They have a little different skillsets, but the best leader and the toughest guy will win the job.
- Is Ohio State falling behind in NIL? Ohio State is situation really well for NIL. In terms of legislative things coming down, OSU doesn’t see it impacting them or forcing them to change what they’ve done. NIL isn’t going anywhere, so it has to be done well and built the right way. “It’s going to be a big business.” At Ohio State, they are held to a very high standard. He expects to ultimately have one of the best NIL programs in the country.
- There are a lot of conversations about NIL at OSU. “There’s frustration, there is.” Any time there is frustration and there are gray areas, there can be hard feelings. There’s definitely been angst over the last year. The biggest thing OSU has done is advocated for their guys. The guys who have signed love what Ohio State has to offer. The majority of the team is doing very well with it. “When you look at our class, that’s going to show in the end.”
- What do you look for in a play caller? A lot of it is just experience and getting a feel for those situations. Keeping your mind wrapped around it and prepared. It takes experience. You make mistakes and you learn. Everybody has had to do it for the first time. When are you ready to be a play caller? When are you ready to be a parent? When are you ready to buy a house? You just figure it out. The more game-like situations they can create in spring, the better.
- This will be a true quarterback competition. Even footing at the start.
- How do you go back to ground zero with QBs when you already know about them? Both guys are going to get a ton of reps. You look at how they do, the numbers, at the end of the day it will be the guy that the team believes in that can lead them to a championship.
- Can you be a leader as a QB until you are named No. 1? “I absolutely think you can.” You set a standard and then you help others to live up to it. That’s being a leader. Being named a starter can give a guy more confidence, but you don’t need to be the starter to be a leader.
- The running back room, how is it looking? The way the season shook out last year was unpredictable. They will need everybody. There are a lot of games.
- Guys who are out this spring: Julian Fleming, Emeka Egbuka, Tommy Eichenberg, Evan Pryor, Mitchell Melton, TreVeyon Henderson, Kourt Williams, Jakob James, and a couple more. They’ll be fine after spring.
- There is a lot of value in promoting graduate assistants. He’s excited for new tight ends coach Keenan Bailey this year. He used to think it was best to go outside, but if you’ve got the right coach in front of you, just keep them.
- Tristan Gebbia made it clear to them that he wants to be a coach and that he would treat this year almost like a graduate assistant, but he’s also the most experienced guy in the room. It’s a good situation for everyone. When you have multiple guys in that room who are supporting the starter, good things happen. And you also never know what’s going to happen. Look at the 49ers this past weekend.
- Why did they add more portal guys than ever before? They probably had more needs than they normally do that they wanted to fill with experience, rather than freshmen. They had needs at safety and offensive line.
- He feels “okay” at offensive tackle. They’re going to move some guys around, but he’s not ready to talk about it yet. Josh Fryar has a big challenge ahead of him. “I think we have a chance to have a good offensive line.” If they feel like they have to add somebody else, they will.
- Tyler Friday and Palaie Gaoteote will not be back.
- Was there any chance that CJ Stroud was going to stay? There was some back and forth. He loves Ohio State and his teammates. It took a long time to figure out the positives and negatives.
- Any thoughts to changing the turf at Ohio State? No, there have been no issues. The guys like it.
- The lingering soft-tissue injuries, are you evaluating that? He feels very strongly about the OSU medical personnel. Injuries happen and you try to deal with them as best as you can.
- If he gives up play calling, it would allow him more time to just be concerned about everything else. The culture of the program, etc.
- How concerned are you about the offensive line? Right now the plan is to keep Matt Jones and Donovan Jackson at guard. They have some younger guys who need to step up. Probably moving Tegra Tshabola to tackle. Carson Hinzman has had a good offseason.
- The addition of James Laurinaitis, do you envision him following the Brian Hartline path? He brings great experience. He’s a former play on staff, which is always exciting. When you have guys who were part of the program, it just means a little more. Laurinaitis is excited to learn from Jim Knowles.
- Have you gotten over how close you got this year or will it stay with you forever? It’s not going to go away but you can’t let it dominate your mind. You’ve got to move forward. “Time does heal all wounds, but it’s going to take a while.”
- How much did Luke Wypler declaring catch you off guard? They were hoping he wouldn’t declare, but he did and they wish him the best. It’s not normal to lose two guys after three years. Paris Johnson should be a top ten pick. They didn’t expect to lose Wypler, so they had to adapt and that’s why they brought in Vic Cutler.
- How much mixing and matching will you do in the spring on the offensive line? They want to make sure they get somebody good at playing one position, but you also have to move guys around to see what you have. Justin Frye will be trying to figure it all out.
- They need to see leadership and confidence from the quarterbacks. They need to be able to extend the play to help the offensive line as well. They have to put them in game situations and let them compete.
- What does he need to see from the offensive linemen that will keep him out of the portal in May? They need to see tough guys. It’s a thankless job. You have to be smart. You have to know what you’re doing. You also have to then be able to do the job. Fail, learn, grow. The guys who make it aren’t just super-talented, but they’re smart, tough, and they’ve figured out how to make it all work.
- Are you guys trying to be more aggressive in the portal? They only go in there to fill holes. His concern is bringing in guys just to bring guys in, can affect the culture. He doesn’t want to do that. The offseason program is the backbone of the program, and he doesn’t want to add guys just to add guys.
- There are now six former Buckeyes who are now part of the program. “These are guys who understand what it means to be a player here.”
- The Big Ten only signed two 5-star players. Is there conversation league-wide on how to fix that? There was a Big Ten meeting yesterday. There will be another meeting in a few weeks about NIL and these kinds of things. NIL is also unique to each institution.
- There are some really good Ohio prospects in 2024 and 2025. That’s really exciting.
- The early enrollees have done well. The feedback is very good. Luke Montgomery and Austin Siereveld look good moving around. They need to get stronger, which is the case for freshmen.
- Does this offseason feel similar to the offseason following the loss to Clemson in 2019? “We’ll see.” When you’re talking about one or two plays, or one or two calls, it hurts. It motivates the guys. That 2020 season was a strange one. Players had to individually motivate themselves from home. “We’ll see how this team comes together.”
- Why now for James Laurinaitis? They had spoken a couple of times. Day asked if he really wanted to get into coaching, and he did. The timing was right now.
- The frustration with NIL and recruiting? It’s for everybody, when this got passed, there were very little guidelines. There were unknowns about what can and can’t be done. When you start to see the dust settling and what it looks like, he feels confident they will have a good plan in the next couple of months as it relates to recruiting.
- Is there more tampering than before with current rosters? “It’s illegal to do, and if people are doing it and it’s not being enforced, yeah, that creates hard feelings.” Is it being done more than before? Not sure.
- Regarding his conversations with Jim Knowles, were there unnecessary gambles? “We can’t give up big plays like that. That hurt us in the last two games.” That’s no secret. It wasn’t the only problem. Jim Knowles knows that and they need to fix it in the offseason.
- Asked about the Marvin Harrison targeting call? “Can I talk about it? I made a lot of calls after the game. I felt like it was targeting.” The hard thing is to hear the medical staff tell him he was knocked unconscious and that’s why he couldn’t go back in the game, and then to see the flag picked up. The officials told him that it wasn’t forceable enough. The shot wasn’t to the head, it was to the shoulder.
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