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Ryan Day is prepared for the loss of co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley

The Buckeyes won’t make any significant changes with his departure

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 31 FAU at Ohio State Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“Day says he told the defensive backs at this time last year that they were gonna go get the best guy in the country to coach the secondary. “They didn’t know who Jeff Hafley was,” but everyone grew to love him and they’re gonna miss him.”

- Ryan Day via Eleven Warriors

Ohio State’s national spotlight is both a blessing and a curse. The country-wide recognition makes it easy to recruit and attract all sorts of attention and glory. On the flip side, it puts your top assistant coaches in the limelight, and opens the door for smaller programs to pillage your staff for head coaching positions. It’s unfortunate to see your best assistants walk out the door, but it shows just how good of a job the Buckeye coaches do that other programs want them for their top spot.

Jeff Hafley is the latest OSU assistant to move on to bigger things, as the Buckeyes’ co-defensive coordinator has accepted the head coaching job at Boston College. Hafley has played a major role in turning around Ohio State’s dreadful defense from a year ago and making it into one of the best units in the country. His work was especially impressive in the secondary, where guys like Jeff Okudah and Shaun Wade have blossomed into highly regarded NFL prospects.

Hafley will continue to coach at Ohio State until the season comes to an end, which both parties hope results in a National Championship before his departure. Head coach Ryan Day addressed the matter in his press conference this week, and had nothing but praise for the secondary coach and what he accomplished in Columbus this season. Day explained that he was prepared for this day to come, and it is part of the reason the staff uses two co-defensive coordinators so that in the event someone left, continuity could be maintained.

It was a crazy week for the Buckeye headman, having to deal with the Hafley news on top of recruiting, miscellaneous award shows and College Football Playoff prep. While he has not yet named any candidates for the open position, Day told the media “We are going to get the best coach in America to go coach that position.” He is also not worried about rumors of linebackers coach Al Washington going off to join Hafley’s staff at BC, “I don't see that happening at all.” Day said.

“Fields is still planning to wear the bulky knee brace when the Buckeyes resume practice on Monday. But there’s a chance he could be scaling back to a lighter version next week in Arizona, and he’s hoping that eventually he’ll be able to ditch both of them in time to play Clemson.”

- Austin Ward, Lettermen Row

Justin Fields was clearly compromised by his knee brace in Ohio State’s Big Ten Championship win over Wisconsin. His numbers were still good, but the mobility was lacking, and there were more than a few plays where it looked like Fields had the open lane to tuck the ball and run but decided instead to sit in the pocket. Fields’ legs are a huge part of opening up things for the Buckeyes on offense, and if they want their best attack against Clemson they will need their quarterback to be fully healthy.

The sophomore transfer QB has been putting in a ton of work away from practice to help speed of the recovery of his sprained MCL that forced him to wear the brace in the first place. While all the travel of awards season has certainly not been ideal for the injured signal caller, he has had special workouts assigned to him he can do whenever he gets some free time and has also been using exercise bikes in hotels to stay loose and aid in his rehab.

Fields’ ability to extend plays has been incredibly important for Ohio State this season, and will definitely be needed against a tough Clemson defense. The current plan is for him to continue practicing with the brace next week, and work towards a smaller brace if the knee feels good. If all goes well, Fields hopes to be able to be without the brace entirely by the time the game comes around.

“Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow of LSU highlights the first-team offense and Heisman finalist Chase Young of Ohio State leads the defense on the team presented by Regions Bank, which was chosen by a panel of 15 college football poll voters.”

- Associated Press via ESPN

Awards lists continue to roll in, and the latest honors come via the Associated Press All-America team, which was announced on Monday. Ohio State and LSU led the way with three players each on the first team, with Georgia and Wisconsin the only other schools with multiple first-team selections.

Buckeye sophomore guard Wyatt Davis was the only OSU player to make the first-team offense, while junior defensive end Chase Young and junior corner Jeff Okudah both made the first-team defense. A pair of Buckeyes made the second-team offense, as Justin Fields and junior running back J.K. Dobbins earned honors as well. Two more OSU players made the third team, with senior guard Jonah Jackson on offense and senior linebacker Malik Harrison.

Overall, Ohio State led all teams with seven players in total on the three All-America squads.

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