Sources: Ohio State planning to elevate Corey Dennis to QB coach. He replaces Mike Yurcich, who left for Texas for $1.7 million and to become the play caller. Ryan Day will remain heavily involved with the OSU QBs and continue to call plays.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) January 1, 2020
Ryan Day wasted little time in making a move to fill one of his assistant coaching vacancies, hiring from within and promoting senior quality coach Corey Dennis to QB coach. Dennis replaces Mike Yurcich, who left Ohio State after just one season on the staff and reportedly never quite saw eye to eye with the teams philosophy. As Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports reported on Twitter, Day will continue to call plays and still play a big part in helping develop Buckeye QBs.
Dennis will make it easy for OSU to maintain continuity on its staff, as he has spent the last two seasons as the team’s assistant quarterbacks coach. Hiring from within makes everything easier, as Dennis will not have to take some time to learn all the ins and outs of the program having already spent ample time within the system. Although it is his first gig as a full-time assistant coach, Dennis has been highly regarded by the players he has worked with in his time with the Buckeyes, including both Dwayne Haskins and Justin Fields.
“Basically Corey is like my personal quarterbacks coach when coach Day is not around,” Haskins said in 2018. “I can ask him about looks, coverages, different pressures and he has everything that coach Day teaches him. He helps me throughout practice, throughout meetings. He helps out a lot.”
Having joined the staff as a coaching intern in 2015, Dennis has been viewed as a rising star in the profession, even reportedly being in line to become Colorado State’s QB coach before the news of Yurcich’s exit. The promotion will be his second in two years, having been named the senior quality control coach when Brian Hartline was promoted to wide receivers coach in 2018.
While his coaching ability isn't all that uncertain, he will have to be able to prove himself on the recruiting trail. Recruiting was one of the areas it seemed Yurcich was lacking, having reportedly almost derailed the relationship with now-OSU signee CJ Stroud on a lack of communication. However, it seems as though almost every move Ryan Day has made in building his staff in his short time at Ohio State — especially when promoting guys already on staff — has worked out, and so there is no reason to doubt him here.
“Coach Hafley and our DBs, we were a match made in heaven. He was looking for redemption, and so were we. And it just fit. One thing I appreciated a lot about Coach is that he respected my desire to learn — and in a way that always felt real.”
If you haven't already heard the news, Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah has declared for the NFL Draft. In 2017, Okudah wrote a letter to his mother, who passed shortly after he enrolled, about his decision to commit to OSU. Now, having made the decision to move on to the next level, Okudah has written another letter explaining to his late mother about his time with the Buckeyes and all the people that have helped him along the way.
In his most recent letter, Okudah had a ton of praise for secondary coach Jeff Hafley, who has since moved on to become the head coach at Boston College. He explained that the team was skeptical at first of the hire, as Hafley was coming over from a San Francisco 49ers team that just went 4-12. However, they kept an open mind, and the move wound up being the perfect fit for both sides. Okudah said that as much as anyone else, Hafley helped him to become the player he always wanted to be.
“He wouldn’t just get up in my face, or yell at me about something and then that was that. He would bring me in and actually pick my brain. He would let me go back and forth with him about the nuances of the game — not just the plays we were running, but the thinking behind those plays. And he’s the first coach I had where I felt like, when I came into his office, we could just talk” Okudah said of Hafley.
Okudah talked about a bunch of other things in his letter that is certainly worth taking time out of your day to read. He discussed a conversation with former DB coach Kerry Coombs about wanting to be the best in America, his pride he took in doing well in the classroom because he knew his mother would want it that way, and even some of his feelings and emotions following the Clemson game.
Okudah is clearly an excellent man both on and off the football field, and as he makes the transition to the next level we all wish him the very best.
“It’s the worst feeling in the world, being the target on that last play [and coming up short],” the sophomore said. “I feel like I let the seniors down and my team down, and I’ve just got to learn from it and bounce back.”
Even with everything that went against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, the Buckeyes still likely would have won the game had Chris Olave finished his route on the offense’s final play. A miscommunication and some confusion led to a changing of the route, a slip and ultimately an interception. While it was certainly nowhere near the reason OSU lost the game, it was a play that did sting, and nobody was more upset about it than Olave.
While some guys may have shied away from the media after a play like that, the sophomore wideout took it like a pro and answered every question at his locker postgame. He admitted it was his mistake, changing the route when he thought he saw Justin Fields begin to scramble, and unfairly pinned the loss on himself saying he felt like he let his teammates down.
Olave’s one mistake does not nearly take away from what was a spectacular season for the young wide receiver. He hauled in 48 passes for a team-high 840 yards and team-high 12 touchdowns. The most impressive thing about Olave is that he didn’t just stack up garbage time stats against bad teams, but instead always seemed to come up huge in big games. Ohio State ended its season against five-straight top 15 opponents, and in four of the five Olave hauled in at least one TD. The one he didn’t, the Big Ten title game against Wisconsin, he still led the team with 94 receiving yards including a big 50-yard play.
The Buckeyes will be losing three senior wide receivers in K.J. Hill, Binjimen Victor and Austin Mack, and so it will be Olave who becomes the No. 1 wide receiver next season. He is clearly an incredibly talented wideout, showcasing fantastic hands as he became one of the most reliable pass-catchers on the team and a favorite target of Fields in 2019. With the memory of his mistake creating a big chip on his shoulder, Olave will no doubt bounce back and be a dominant force on the Buckeye offense in 2020.