Ohio State begins fall camp in less than a week, and when the whistles finally start blowing next Thursday, the Buckeyes will be bolstered by a group of true freshmen that head coach Ryan Day has been very pleased with.
Ohio State signed 20 players in a 2023 recruiting class that was ranked fifth-best in the nation. Eleven of those players enrolled back in January, which allowed them to go through winter conditioning and spring practice. That experience has put them in a different light.
“I think we’ve recruited a really good batch,” Day said at Big Ten Media Days this week. “When you say ‘freshmen,’ you know, Carnell Tate, I guess is still a freshman, although all those guys who came in mid-year, I told them they’re not a freshman anymore at their exit meetings coming out of spring practice. So all those guys are now considered sophomores in my eyes.”
Tate impressed from just about his first day on campus. He is one of three freshmen receivers who have been on campus for the past seven months. A fourth — five-star Brandon Inniss — arrived a couple of months ago.
The Buckeyes also had all four of their offensive line signees on campus early, including Luke Montgomery, out of Findlay, Ohio. Montgomery spent the spring as the No. 3 left tackle for the Buckeyes, but according to Day, he could be in the mix at right tackle this year.
“He’s in the competition right now,” Day said of Montgomery. “I told him the other day, I said, ‘I know you’re a true freshman, but you came here to play. So that should be your mentality.’ Now, whether you play in the first game or not, I don’t know. Maybe you don’t play this year, but I just see things in him, we see things in him that are very encouraging. And I think everything you invest in Luke, you’re gonna get back. He has all the traits you look for in a really good offensive lineman. But maybe it’s game three, maybe it’s game four, I don’t know what it’s going to be. But he’s got a huge upside as well.”
The rest of the freshmen class rolled in this summer. Day is generally cautious in singling out a player or two in any regard because he doesn’t want to forget somebody, but that didn’t stop him from mentioning a few of the newest Buckeyes, including quarterback Luke Kienholz.
Kienholz was the starting quarterback for three state championships in South Dakota. He threw for over 9,000 yards in high school, while also rushing for over 3,000 yards. The confidence was high with Day and quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis that they were getting a good one. So far, that confidence has been validated.
“The guys who came in this summer, I’ve got to give Lincoln credit, he’s coming from South Dakota, doesn’t have a huge background in playing quarterback, but he’s jumped right in, hasn’t been overwhelmed,” Day said. “He’s athletic. He’s got a long way to go but he’s got a bright future ahead of him.”
Glenville linebacker Arvell Reese and Waxahachie, Texas cornerback Calvin Simpson-Hunt were also mentioned by Day.
“Arvell Reese is very, very talented. He’s got a lot to learn. For a lot of the guys that came in this summer, they have a lot to learn,” he said. “Calvin Simpson-Hunt, he’s got a really bright future ahead of him. I hate to sit here and tell you they’re gonna be great players, because they have to put all the work in to get there. But when you’re looking at the ability level of some of the guys that have come in, we’re excited about all of them.”
Day stopped himself there when it came to naming names, but suffice it to say, they are some lofty expectations for the newest batch of Buckeyes.
“It’s hard to pick one out because my phone’s gonna ring and someone’s parent’s gonna ask me ‘why didn’t you mention my son?’ but I think some of those guys have a chance to get on the field this year.”