For the first time since Feb. 3, Ryan Day met with the media on Wednesday afternoon to preview Ohio State’s spring season which kicks off on Friday. Day discussed everything from the quarterback battle, his thoughts on the criticism Justin Fields has been receiving, his COVID-19 vaccine, players who have stepped up this winter, and much more.
The Buckeyes head coach kicked things off by addressing the elephant in the room— Marcus Hooker’s OVI arrest. As of right now, Hooker is suspended from the team indefinitely.
Ryan Day on Marcus Hooker's OVI arrest: “We're very disappointed... He is suspended right now indefinitely.” Day said Ohio State will let the process play out before a final decision is made on his future.— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) March 17, 2021
This is the second time Hooker has been suspended by the Ohio State football program due to an OVI arrest. He was suspended for the season opener in 2018 after he was charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania.
And now for the other elephant in the room....the quarterback battle.
Day said they’re trying to get all three of the QBs— C.J. Stroud, Jack Miller and Kyle McCord— the same number of reps and an equal shot to compete. He said he expects Ohio State’s next quarterback to be a starter for “at least two years, maybe three years.”
Ryan Day on choosing a starting quarterback: “You'll know when the time is right. We'll know when the time is right.”— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) March 17, 2021
Other than the quarterback position battle, Day said the linebackers and secondary are the other positions to keep an eye on, saying “we need to build some depth there. There’re some young faces in the back end.”
Ryan Day specifically mentions how Lathan Ransom “really stepped up late” and how Josh Proctor “flashed at times” when talking about the secondary.— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) March 17, 2021
Other position groups to watch this Spring: the offensive line and tight ends. Day said Paris Johnson Jr “has some position flexibility” and that the guards and tackles “are interchangeable.” And with the loss of Luke Farrell, a second tight end will need to step up to add depth to the position behind Jeremy Ruckert.
Day said Paris Johnson Jr. will start at guard this spring, but could make the shift to tackle if need be due to his versatility.— Lantern Sports (@LanternSports) March 17, 2021
Day is scheduled to get his COVID-19 vaccine this week, and said that while vaccines won’t be required for players, Ohio State will help them set up their appointments.
Day said he's scheduled to get the vaccine Friday and that they're still organizing the team vaccination plan.— Lantern Sports (@LanternSports) March 17, 2021
When asked about the criticism Justin Fields has been receiving ahead of the NFL Draft, specifically that the former Buckeye QB is a “one-read quarterback,” Day said:
“I don’t really think much about that. I don’t listen to any of them. ... When I was in the NFL, I had my opinion of the guys I would watch on film. ... Some of that stuff I don’t really put much stock into. When you look at Justin’s body of work ... and the first read’s open a lot, that’s not his fault. You know what I mean?”
In other words, if your first read is to go to guys like Chris Olave or Garrett Wilson, then you, I don’t know, throw to your first read?
Ryan Day on Justin Fields: “Whatever NFL team asks him to do something, he will learn it very, very quickly. ... I can promise you this, Justin Fields is going to make plays in the NFL ... Some team's going to get very lucky by drafting him.”— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) March 17, 2021
Day said both Zach Harrison and Thayer Munford have both stepped up as leaders during winter-workouts, and that something has changed in Harrison.
Ryan Day singles out Zach Harrison as somebody who has stepped up the past couple months: "He just looks different. Hats off to him for a great offseason. He just has a different look in his eye."— Colin Hass-Hill (@chasshill) March 17, 2021
Obviously, Day had to shout out Chris Holtmann’s Ohio State basketball team, who will face Oral Roberts in the first round of the NCAA Tournament this Friday at 3:00 p.m. ET.
Ryan Day on Ohio State basketball: “I love March Madness. ... I think Chris (Holtmann) has done an unbelievable job. I think his team plays really, really hard ... As long as they stay healthy, I think they're going to make a great run. It's been fun to watch them play.”— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) March 17, 2021
Speaking of which, Day wasn’t too shabby on the court himself back in the day.
25 years ago today, Central HS won the hoops championship over Winnacunnet. This guy knocking down three's turned out to be a pretty good football coach too! @ryandaytime @OhioStateFB #wmur pic.twitter.com/32WRj9XWKq— Jamie Staton (@JamieStatonWMUR) March 16, 2021
Day said that he actually did consider playing both basketball and football in college, but chose football. He said he doesn’t play basketball anymore because he’s worried about tearing his Achilles at his age.
When asked what the No. 1 thing Day wants to see from his team this spring, he said “I don’t know if there’s just one thing, but we have to get better fundamentally and we have to get 15 practices in. We’ll start with that right there.”
With last year's spring practices being canceled, Day said this spring session will be focused on fundamentals and building on them.— Lantern Sports (@LanternSports) March 17, 2021
"It's like having two freshman classes," Day said.
Day provided an injury update on Kourt Williams and Cam Brown. He said they’re both working their way back from the injuries they suffered last fall, and will not be participating in contact drills this spring but “will be able to get some work in.” He added that they have a spot for Williams at safety once he’s healed.