It was an up and down first day of the Early Signing Period at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, as two top recruits (safety Jordan Battle and quarterback Dwan Mathis) both broke with their commitments to the Buckeyes. However, a little before 1 p.m. ET, new head coach Ryan Day and defensive line coach Larry Johnson sealed the deal on the most sought-after prospect to come out of Ohio in many years with five-star defensive end Zach Harrison of Olentangy Orange High School.
The Ohio State Buckeyes will practice one last time in Columbus tomorrow, Thursday, Dec. 20. Then, they will reconvene together in Southern California the day after Christmas to prepare for the Rose Bowl against the Washington Huskies on Jan. 1, 2019.
Thoughts on the Class
- Ryan Day noted that because the Buckeyes aren’t losing a ton of seniors following this season, they didn’t have as many scholarships available as normal. He noted that if the rankings were judged by average ranking, rather than cumulative points, OSU would be in the top five.
- “I think this class would rank top-five nationally when ranking the individual players,” Day said.
- Day noted that things he thinks about with the class are loyalty and great families.
- He said that it’s difficult to project how many spots they will have available for the traditional February signing period, but they will keep working on recruiting as the number changes moving forward with players leaving for the NFL, transferring, etc.
- Day said that because of the three games that he served as the interim head coach to start the season, he had developed communication lines with a number of recruits and their families.
- He admitted that the entire process was exhausting. He said, “I’ve felt like I’ve had two phones to my ear the past two weeks.”
- Day said that OSU always wants to have four quarterbacks on the roster, and following the bowl, they will see where Dwayne Haskins is. And once he has made a decision, they will make a plan moving forward.
- The new head coach declined to comment on reports that they are pursuing quarterback transfers.
- “We’ll always look at all the options,” Day said, “whatever we think can help our roster.”
- He said that he believes that Ohio State has the best overall program in the country. “We think we have the most comprehensive program from A to Z in the country,” he said.
- The head coach said, “We love these kids. We wanted to keep them all.”
- He added that the loyalty of the players that stuck with the program through August and the coaching change means a great deal. “These kids stuck with us, and we are not going to forget that.”
- The head coach said that some misses in recruiting the offensive line have been evident, and it is something that they need to address. “It’s an area we’ve got to do a better job at.”
- The head coach said that the No. 1 thing that you look for in a quarterback is one extraordinary trait. From there, you evaluate what that is, and adjust the offense to fit the personnel. He said that if you focus on bringing in one type of quarterback, there might not be someone that fits that profile in each class. However, he did say that arm strength and accuracy will always be high up on the list.
- Day said that the thing that is most important for recruits to know — especially quarterbacks — is to find a program that can best develop you as a player, not necessarily the one in which you can player right away.
- However, he did acknowledge that that can be tricky with QBs. “The thing that’s tough about quarterbacks is only one can play, and they all want to play.”
On the staff/program
- Day called Larry Johnson “a legend.”
- The head coach said that other than promoting Brian Hartline to the full-time WR coach, they haven’t made any final determinations about the staff moving forward, but the makeup of the coaching staff is incredibly important.
- He said, “Our staff will be one of the best recruiters in the country.”
- Day said that there is no update on Brian Snead’s status for the bowl game. After seeing playing time early in the year, Snead has been suspended for most of the season, without an official reason given.
- Day said that the program’s focus is going to be to love the players.
- He praised associate athletic director of player personnel Mark Pantoni and talked about how important he and his staff is to the success of the program. Day said that he will be a major part of the program moving forward.
- Day said that the number one thing in their plan is to play good defense. While that wasn’t always great this season, it will be the “tip of the spear” moving forward.
- Day dropped the vital information that Stover has a pet pig named Ronnie.
- Day said that his first time seeing Wilson was while he was recruiting Matthew Baldwin.
- He told a story about seeing him for the first time when he drove a player into a tree, and kept “barking at him.”
- Day said, “As talented a young man I’ve been around in terms of ball skills, speed, changing direction.”
- Day said that he is a deep threat with “legitimate track speed.”
- He praises Williams’ family and high school program.
- The coach said that Williams and Wilson will be important in replacing the skill position players leaving after the season.
- Day said that the fact that Crowley is Florida’s Gatorade Player of the Year, which says something.
- He said that he is a big back with a lot of potential.
- Day said that recruiting the Olentangy star was a long process, but that Urban Meyer and Larry Johnson were instrumental.
- He said that on a home visit last week, he communicated some of the changes happening in the leadership of the program.
- He added that Johnson’s connection with Harrison was extremely important, and that he felt like good about his relationship following the home visit last week.
- “I think there was a connection there. The connection that Larry had was very important.”
- Day said that “it’s not going to happen all at once, but the ceiling’s the limit” for Harrison.
- “The potential that he has,” Day said, “all you can think of are the Bosas are the world, and some of the top defensive ends in the United States of America.”
- Day said that it was “Huge. Huge,” to get the commitment from Harrison.