Presser Bullets: Ryan Day Discusses Justin Fields' Transfer to Ohio State, New Assistant Coaches and More on National Signing Day

By Dan Hope on February 6, 2019 at 1:58 pm

Just moments after Enokk Vimahi announced that he would sign with the Buckeyes, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day met with the media on Wednesday afternoon for his National Signing Day press conference.

While there wasn't a ton of recruiting activity before his press conference on Wednesday for Day to talk about, there were plenty of other topics for him to discuss in his first press conference of 2019, including the addition of new quarterback Justin Fields, the Buckeyes' five new assistant coaches and more.

A bullet-point recap of what Day had to say:

  • Day described Vimahi as a "huge addition." Said the Buckeyes are "waiting on one more here today to bring it to 85." Dawand Jones is set to announce his college decision at 6:30 p.m.
  • "The biggest challenge" of finishing off the recruiting class of 2019 after becoming the new head coach just two months ago, Day said, "was getting to know everybody."
  • Day notes that the Buckeyes have only had two players choose to transfer from the program, Tate Martell and Keandre Jones, and believes that speaks to Ohio State's culture.
  • Day said Ohio State will still prioritize recruiting players out of high school and building relationships with them then, but acknowledged that the transfer portal is something that Mark Pantoni and the recruiting staff need to spend more time working with.
  • On Justin Fields: "Justin is a great fit here for a lot of reasons."
  • On Dwayne Haskins' departure for the 2019 NFL draft: "We thought we were going to get three years out of him. We got one." Day said it "took a little bit of time to get back up from the canvas" after Haskins made his decision to leave.
  • On players leaving for the NFL early: "We don't apologize for developing guys."
  • On Garrett Wilson: "He comes from a great family, and he's a great person. He's amazing, because he's a big-time basketball player, and he's never really spent time on just football. So his potential, as good as he is, is through the roof."
  • On Urban Meyer's impact on the program: "His footprint is on this, and it will be a long time."
  • Day said Meyer will continue to be involved with the Real Life Wednesdays program and other off-field programs.
  • On Mike Yurcich, who said he is still learning Ryan Day's offense: "He picks it up really quick. It's not going to take long."
  • Waiting to find out if Fields will receive a waiver, Day said the Buckeyes are focused on controlling what they can control.
  • Day said he traveled to Hawaii, spent three hours there with Vimahi and then hopped on a plane back to Ohio State. Day said Vimahi and his family will decide after next year whether he wants to go on a two-year mission, and Day said the Buckeyes will support him in whatever decision he makes.
  • Day mentioned Clemson playing Trevor Lawrence as a true freshman on multiple occasions when asked about the possibility of playing a new quarterback immediately.
  • Day said he believes it is important to be honest with players about the competition they will face when they are recruited so they are not caught by surprise when they arrive.
  • Day said the offense that will stay the same regardless of who the quarterback is, but the plays the Buckeyes emphasize will depend on who the quarterback is. "When we move forward with our new quarterback, we'll figure out what he does best, and then we'll emphasize those."
  • "What happened with Dwayne last year is an anomaly," Day said, about how he is now projected to be the first quarterback in the draft and was a Heisman Trophy finalist after just one year as a starting quarterback. "Dwayne may be one of those once-in-a-lifetime."
  • Day said he wanted his new assistant coaching hires to be a mix of two veterans and three younger guys. Said the opportunity to get Jeff Hafley was "a no-brainer." Day thought Greg Mattison would complement Hafley well as co-defensive coordinators. Asked whether his past at Michigan was a consideration, Day smiled and acknowledged that it was, but he said he wasn't trying to cherry-pick off the Wolverines' staff; he thought Mattison and Al Washington were the best fits for their respective openings on the coaching staff.
  • Day said there was "tremendous energy" Wednesday morning at the team's 6 a.m. mat drills.
  • Day praised associate athletic director of compliance Justin Kume for his work in dealing with eligibility issues, including Fields' appeal.
  • In building his coaching staff, Day said he looked for "guys who wanted to be here" and looked for Ohio ties.
  • On Jeff Hafley: "When I worked with Jeff, I saw a coach who was really good at what he did ... He's really knowledgeable. I think he's a special coach."
  • On Al Washington: "The energy Al brings, not only on the field but in recruiting, is off-the-charts ... Anything Al puts his mind to, he's going to do. I believe in Al, and I know he's going to be great."
  • On Greg Mattison: "His experience speaks for itself. He's been successful everywhere he's gone."
  • On Matt Barnes: "I think he's really knowledgeable, and I think he's going to do a great job."
  • On Tate Martell: "Obviously we wish him nothing but the best. Disappointed to see him leave, but he'll have a good career."
  • On senior quality control coach Corey Dennis: "He's a bright young coach in this profession ... His expertise at the quarterback position is growing every year."
  • "The quality is what I keep going back to," Day said when asked for his overall assessment of the recruiting class. Why isn't the class bigger? The Buckeyes didn't have many scholarships available, including only two going into National Signing Day on Wednesday after signing 15 players during the early signing period.
  • Day said the Buckeyes expect early enrollee defensive end Noah Potter to challenge for playing time this spring.
  • Harry Miller and Ryan Jacoby are expected to challenge for spots on the offensive line two-deep in the preseason. Enokk Vimahi is now coming in as well, and Day hinted that the Buckeyes are still looking to land another offensive lineman.
  • Day said he did reach out to Jim Harbaugh and talked to him before hiring Mattison and Washington away from Michigan.
  • On the national brand of Ohio State: "Whether I'm in Hawaii, Seattle ... New York, Cleveland ... it doesn't matter. People know that block O."
  • On Vimahi: "Enokk is a very good athlete. He's a guy that we think can put a lot of weight and get stronger, but he's very stronger."
  • While the Buckeyes still want to have four scholarship quarterbacks, Day said "it's year in and year out," and it's not guaranteed they will add a fourth quarterback this year. "We want to be at four," but if Ohio State adds another offensive lineman, the Buckeyes will be maxed out at 85 scholarships.
  • Ohio State is hoping to hear a decision on Justin Fields' appeal for immediate eligibility in the next few weeks, but Day said he doesn't know exactly when that ruling will come.
  • Day said he would be in favor of schools being limited to bringing in only two scholarship transfers per year.
  • Day said that when he saw his picture on the wall alongside Ohio State's former head coaches, "it takes you to your knees a little bit."
  • Day wants to be at Ohio State for the next "10-15 years," and his goal is to win championships. Recognizes that is the expectation for the program.
  • Day said the defensive coaches are working together now to build their scheme up for the season, much like Day and Kevin Wilson and Meyer did two years ago when Day and Wilson came to Ohio State.
  • On Larry Johnson: "He's been great to me. He's a guy that everybody respects ... He's a father figure to everybody on the team. Making him the associate head coach was important to me."
  • Day said he congratulated Greg Schiano about his new job as the Patriots' defensive coordinator, and told him he's going to "kill it."

Ohio State's five new assistant coaches and seven midyear enrollees, including new quarterback Justin Fields, also met with the media on Wednesday.

Stay tuned with Eleven Warriors for more coverage of National Signing Day and Ohio State's media availability.

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