Julian Sayin Ohio State Buckeyes Quarterback

Ohio State Football Notebook: ‘You have to earn it in the weight room first’

Earning The Respect

Freshman quarterback Julian Sayin performed about as well in the spring as a coach could expect. He lost his black stripe earlier than any other Ohio State quarterback before himby months. Sayin was the first freshman Buckeye quarterback to actually lose his black stripe in the spring.

What made it happen?

“Usually when you get your black stripe off, it’s because you’ve earned the respect of the team, and I think he’s done that,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said this spring.

One of Sayin’s characteristics that helped him make this happen is that he’s pretty even-keeled overall, but he couldn’t hide his excitement from his high school coach after losing his stripe.

“I know it’s a great honor and everything. I talked to him about it. He was excited,” Carlsbad High School head coach Thadd MacNeal told Buckeye Huddle. “He’s not normally like that. And that’s another great thing about him. He’s not ever really high or really low, but he was really excited about that.”

Having a black stripe removed is ultimately the head coach’s call, but Day solicits feedback from coaches and teammates. While the act itself may happen on the practice field, it will never happen without getting things right in the weight room with strength coach Mickey Marotti.

“You have to earn in it in the weight room first,” Day said. “But then you put it on the field and you start making plays, it speaks for itself.”

Julian Sayin had the kind of spring that foretells other good things happening down the road, but he’s still just a freshman and has plenty of room to grow.

“Just overall experience,” Day said of what Sayin is missing right now. “And then just maturity, physically, mentally, emotionally all those things. But he’s shown great signs. I think he’s put on maybe 15 pounds since he got here, that’s great. But the overall strength and size, and that is a matter of just experience. But I like his approach. I mean, I see things in him that lead us to believe he’s got a really bright future. And it’s very, very encouraging.”

Footwork Makes The Dream Work

Sonny Styles made the move to Will linebacker full time this spring. No more moonlighting in a 4-3 against running teams and then moving back to safety against throwing teams.

Styles prepared for the move throughout the winter, but handling it on the practice field is a different animal.

How did it go for him?

“I think Sonny’s made a really smooth transition to linebacker,” linebackers coach James Laurinaitis said this spring. “Luke Fickell used to say this to us all the time, he’d say, ‘Be slow until it’s time to be fast in the box.’ And what that means is you have to have calm feet. And he’s so used to breaking and going from safety. You had to slow him down. He’s so explosive. And so he’s really gotten his footwork under control.”

Sonny Styles is an incredible athlete who moves better than most, but now he needs to move like a linebacker. He wasn’t expected to be flawless in the spring, but the experience was definitely something to build upon.

“It’s a never-ending process,” Laurinaitis said. “And look, I think playing at safety, seeing the game from that perspective, now moving up, he has a good idea of the whole scheme and how everything kind of works together. So it’s been a really smooth transition for Sonny.”

Use Your Force, Luke

Sophomore Luke Montgomery spent much of the spring working at right guard for the Buckeyes. He began spring ball with the ones and stayed there throughout most of camp. Other players were also given opportunities at the position, which wasn’t a surprise given that it’s the only position on the offensive line that is replacing last year’s starter.

Montgomery, however, spent his freshman season playing right tackle, so this was a new experience for him. Offensive line coach Justin Frye expected some struggles, especially against Ohio State’s defensive tackles.

“All young guys coming in, you’ve gotta learn how to play in friction,” Frye said this spring. “So having a three tech, having a 2i, having those guys right in front of him that every time you take one of those reps and you’re out of your base or you’re in your base, you feel the good, you feel the bad. So being more consistent that way.”

As a tackle, Montgomery was more accustomed to being on an island working in one-on-one situations. At guard, the action happens faster and it takes place in a more congested area. Montgomery knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but in the quest for a starting five, the ability to play multiple positions is invaluable.

“You can’t make moves or shift guys if they’re not mentally there, and so for him, he’s got a pretty good football IQ,” Frye said of Montgomery. “So he’s continued growing every day. He’s working and he’s getting beat every day too. And he’s learning from it.”

Frye has a saying for his offensive line during the spring. “It’s yes and know.” If a rep didn’t work, why didn’t it work? What happened? How do you make sure you don’t repeat the same mistake? A lot of time is spent on understanding what went wrong and why it went wrong.

“And so whether he’s coming in and watching the tape on his own and then coming in with questions, he’s grabbing me and watching tape with me, or we’re coming in and doing stuff as a unit, he’s learning so that the game can slow down and he gets more comfortable there in friction,” Frye said.

“So, I mean, his weight’s up. His strength’s up. He spent an offseason with Mick. There’s a lot of development that still has to be had. Obviously, he’s not a finished product, but being able mentally for a guy to handle that, helps a lot.”

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