Ryan Day

Ohio State Football Notebook: ‘There’s times where maybe they don’t like it’

Communication Is Key

The Buckeyes made a splash in the offseason with a handful of transfer portal additions. The biggest noise came when Alabama safety Caleb Downs and Ole Miss running back Quinshon Judkins decided to jump on board, but Ohio State had already added Alabama center Seth McLaughlin, Ohio tight end Will Kacmarek, and Kansas State quarterback Will Howard by that time.

Interestingly, each of those three spots — center, tight end, and quarterback — feature either a returning starter or somebody who viewed themselves as next in line.

As a head coach, Ryan Day’s job is to field the best team possible, which means the acquisition of talent can’t really ever stop. But while doing that, he’s also careful to make sure he is communicating with current players about possible additions being made.

“Yeah, that’s, that’s something I try to really do a thorough job of, is making sure I communicate when we’re doing something like that,” Day explained. “Because this is not a program that brings in 20, 25, 30 guys in the portal, but when we do I’ve tried to share my thoughts on why. I try to communicate it.”

Nobody should come to Ohio State expecting an easy road to playing time, and those who do don’t last long. But Day doesn’t ever want guys to be blindsided by the personnel side of things.

“And for the most part, guys embrace it,” he said. “There’s times where maybe they don’t like it, but I always feel like it’s important for me to communicate the best that I can. Not always perfect, but I think it’s important to do it.”

…There’s A Way

When Ryan Day searches for a quarterback, the first thing he looks for is an elite trait. Does this quarterback have an elite trait to build off of?

That trait can come in a number of forms, be it athleticism, toughness, ball placement, arm strength, awareness, and a number of other possibilities.

When the Buckeyes went into the portal searching for a quarterback this offseason, they settled on Kansas State’s Will Howard. So what is his elite trait?

“I mean, you go to the film and you try to identify with the film. Particularly with Will, I like his competitiveness. I like his toughness,” Day said. “I think [strength coach] Mick [Marotti] would tell you that he sees that everyday in the weight room right now.”

That may feel like more of an intangible, but it presents itself in tangible ways.

“He’s a guy who won a Big 12 championship,” Day said. “He’s a field goal or whatever away from beating Texas this year. He’s got a mature approach about him and he’s got the ability to throw the football. When he needs to run, he can run. But he’s big. You see the size when he gets up on you. He’s a big guy. So there’s a few things there that you really can grab on to.”

NIL Is Constantly Evolving

It wasn’t too long ago that panic merchants were touting the end of Ohio State football because of an NIL program that was lacking or unwilling to break the rules. Now the nation looks at Ohio State and sees an NIL program that is out of control and simply buying up players.

It’s all noise put forward by the loudest people possible.

Ohio State’s NIL efforts were a productive force this offseason, but that’s not new. The college football sands are constantly shifting right now, so finding your footing is almost a daily battle. Right now, Ohio State has traction, but Ryan Day knows that they will need to be prepared for the next NIL change coming up as well.

“It changes all the time. Boy, it’s changed in the last year. It changed in December, and it’s probably going to change again in May,” he said. “So it’s something that we all have to adapt to. And we’re working hard. Everybody involved has been working really hard to make sure that we’re where we need to be to be competitive. And so we’ll keep trying to adapt the best we can, knowing that I’m sure there are changes coming again in the next couple of months.”

When there are constant changes, it is hard to find consistency. But it is the consistency within the Ohio State football program that has really been the biggest lure for talented transfers and recruits.

“You know, [NIL] is very important, but what’s most important is guys embracing the culture and knowing that when they come in the building every day, they’re going to be part of the program that cares about each other,” Day said. “We’ve got a great locker room. Got a great staff. And we’ve got a fan base that’s gonna support them.”

Familiarity Is A Definite Plus

Ryan Day’s coaching staff has three new assistants on it, as over the offseason he added Chip Kelly as offensive coordinator, James Laurinaitis as linebackers coach, and Matt Guerrierri as safeties coach.

Kelly and Day go all the way back to Day’s quarterback days at New Hampshire when Kelly was his coach. Laurinaitis, meanwhile, is a Buckeye legend who was a graduate assistant last year for the Buckeyes. Guerrieri was part of Day’s staff as an analyst in 2022 when he came over with defensive coordinator Jim Knowles to install a new defense. All three have a familiarity with either Day or this program.

So when Day didn’t renew safeties coach Perry Eliano’s contract following last season, it wasn’t a surprise that he and Knowles went out and landed Knowles’ old right-hand man from their days together at Duke.

But it’s more than just the familiarity that landed Guerrieri the job.

“I think Matt brings a diverse background in terms of he’s been a coordinator, he’s an excellent teacher,” Day said. “He also has been here before, so the guys, Lathan [Ransom] and some of the older guys knew who Matt was. So it’s not just a brand new addition to the staff. I think he’s going to work really well with [cornerbacks coach] Tim [Walton] back there. He knows Jim’s system very well, and so that’s going to be seamless. He knows the system.”

The moves on the coaching staff also included removing Parker Fleming as special teams coordinator. That could also be an area where Guerrieri helps out.

“In terms of his help on special teams, we’re gonna see how big that is,” Day said. “But I feel like Matt really is a great teacher. He’s very intelligent. He’s been a coordinator before. So, we’ll see…how much responsibility he’ll have.”

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