Ohio State returned to the field on Monday for its first spring football practice of 2020, and afterward, head coach Ryan Day met with the media for his first press conference of the spring.
Here's a quick recap of what Day had to say about day one:
- Day said there are a lot of guys on the team who have played a lot of football, but for the early enrollees, this is a huge opportunity to get their feet wet.
- Day said the expectations that you set for the program and also for yourself are what ensure that you stay hungry every day. “We're hungry. We felt like we got a good foundation set underneath us this past season, but we didn't reach all our goals.”
- Day said “you always have to keep an eye” on who's in the transfer portal.
- On the injured players: “We've just got a few guys nicked up, but they'll be back soon.” Day said the Buckeyes want to be particularly smart with guys who have played a lot of football rather than rushing them back from injury. They want those guys out there, but it's not a huge concern for the guys who have seen significant playing time already.
Status report from Ohio State's first spring football practice:— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) March 2, 2020
Unavailable: Kamryn Babb, Marcus Crowley, Gavin Cupp, Josh Proctor, C.J. Saunders
Limited: Cameron Brown, Baron Browning, Jonathon Cooper, Jaelen Gill, Ronnie Hickman, Jaden McKenzie, Taron Vincent, Shaun Wade
- Day said spring football is more important for the younger guys, but the older guys have to step up and be leaders.
- Day said Sevyn Banks did well in winter workouts and is a guy the Buckeyes are counting on to step up at cornerback.
- C.J. Stroud, Jack Miller and Gunnar Hoak all got reps with the second-team offense on Monday, and as spring progresses, those guys will all get opportunities to mix in with the first-team offense, Day said.
- On if he's expecting a big jump from year one to year two with Justin Fields: “Let's hope so.”
- On Shaun Wade: “I think Shaun, in my opinion, should be considered the top cornerback in the country coming back in all of college football.”
- Day said the Buckeyes are still hoping to have C.J. Saunders back, but right now, the slot receivers are Garrett Wilson, Demario McCall, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Mookie Cooper. Jaelen Gill did not practice on Monday. Day said the Buckeyes are hoping to get an answer from the NCAA in April on Saunders will get a sixth year of eligibility.
- Day said the Buckeyes are looking at Harry Miller as a potential starter at left guard after he was Josh Myers' backup at center last year. Day said Miller could take the Pat Elflein path of starting at guard before moving back to center after Myers' departure.
- Day said Cade Stover and Cormontae Hamilton both want to get on the field as soon as possible, so they were on board with changing positions as Stover moved to tight end and Hamilton moved to defensive end. Said Stover's basketball background was a factor in his move to tight end.
- Day said the freshman wide receivers were “better than expected“ on day one.
- On the running backs: “That position, when it comes down to the fall, is going to have to step up in a big way.”
- Day said he won't start digging into Ohio State's opponents on the 2020 schedule until June or July. Right now, all focus is on improving as a team.
- Asked whether there would be any circumstances under which Amir Riep or Jahsen Wint could return to the team, Ryan Day gave a firm "No."
- On Paris Johnson Jr., who rotated with Nicholas Petit-Frere at right tackle on Monday: “He's very, very talented, he's got a lot of ability and if he's the best player, he's going to play.”
- Day on his contract extension: “The people that were the most excited about that were my kids, because they know that they weren't going to be the new kids in school again. And that's the idea. We're going to be here for a long time.”
- Day said Demario McCall could still play running back if needed, but they're starting him out at slot receiver. They've been trying to find a role for him, but one reason why that didn't happen last year was because of how well both J.K. Dobbins played at running back and K.J. Hill at wide receiver.
- Marcus Crowley is unavailable for the start of the spring but the Buckeyes are expecting him back in time for the season. Day said the Buckeyes expect everyone who is currently injured to be healthy in time for September.
We were inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center to watch the entirety of Ohio State's first spring practice on Monday morning, so stay tuned with Eleven Warriors for more observations from the Buckeyes' first practice of the year.