Ohio State is set to honor 24 players during Senior Day festivities before its final home game of the season against Michigan State on Saturday.
Per Ohio State’s game notes for Saturday’s game, the players who will be honored before kickoff at Ohio Stadium on Saturday are Aaron Cox, Jack Jamieson, Robert Cope, Austin Kutscher, Jagger LaRoe, Corey Rau, Ryan Batsch, Cade Kacherski, Sam Wiglusz, Chris Booker, Cameron Brown, Master Teague, Mitch Rossi, Tyreke Smith, Nicholas Petit-Frere, Sevyn Banks, Bradley Robinson, Jeremy Ruckert, Marcus Williamson, Antwuan Jackson, Demario McCall, Haskell Garrett, Chris Olave and Thayer Munford.
Notably, the list of honorees includes three fourth-year Buckeyes – Brown, Teague and Petit-Frere – who are considered to be redshirt juniors in terms of eligibility. While participating in Senior Day doesn't lock them into leaving, it is typically an indicator that a player is planning to move on from the program following the season.
Ryan Day said Tuesday he did not believe most players with remaining eligibility had decided whether or not they would return to Ohio State next season, but that Ohio State gives all players who are seniors academically the opportunity to participate in Senior Day if they want to.
“Anybody who’s considered a senior, whether it’s eligibility-wise, who wants to go ahead and walk out before the game, they get a chance to do that. I don’t think most of them have made up a decision on what their future holds for them, but at the same time, they want to have that opportunity,” Day said. “So if something were to happen, whether they go to the NFL or whatever, they would have an option to do that. So we just leave it up to them. I wouldn’t look too far into any of those things.”
Because the NCAA gave all players an additional year of eligibility in 2020, the only players who cannot return for 2022 are the Buckeyes’ eight super seniors: Munford, Garrett, McCall, Jackson, Williamson, Robinson, Booker and Rau. That said, it is likely that all of the other seniors participating in Senior Day will move on after this season, as Olave, Ruckert and Smith are among the players who have already indicated that this will be their final year at Ohio State.
Numerous players who are listed as seniors on this year's roster are not among the list of players set to be honored on Senior Day, including defensive ends Javontae Jean-Baptiste and Tyler Friday, defensive tackle Jerron Cage, linebackers Teradja Mitchell and Palaie Gaoteote, safety Josh Proctor and kicker Noah Ruggles, which could be an indicator that all of them are planning to use their additional year of eligibility and return for the 2022 season.
Friday and Proctor were already expected to return next season after suffering season-ending injuries this year, while Cage and Ruggles have both said in recent interviews that they had not yet decided whether they would return for another year.
As for the players who will be honored on Senior Day, Day said he is “very proud of the legacy that they’ve left our younger players.”
“They’ve been through a lot,” Day said. “They’ve been through COVID. They’ve been through a great run last year. And they’ve been through a lot this year. And they’ve grown a lot. A lot of them didn’t have a ton of experience going into this year. Some others did, they came back, so there’s a bunch of them in there. But they’ve won a lot of football games, and like you said, a lot of them have left legacies behind. How others have shown them the way and how now they’re showing some of the younger guys the same way. And I think that’s been really strong.
“I think they take a lot of pride in Ohio State. Especially at a time where it’s a little bit more about me than it is the university and the program, I don’t feel that with our team. I think there’s a lot of pride in being Buckeyes, and I know that going out in the stadium is going to mean a lot to them.”
Day expects Saturday to be an emotional day for those seniors, but says he has told them all season to make sure they appreciate every opportunity they get to play rather than waiting until their final opportunity.
“I try to talk to them about it during the season. I mentioned it for a while last week. I just talked to them: ‘Don’t wait until the last game to leave it all on the field.’ I was there. My last game, it’s like, ‘Man, I wish I had a couple more games.’ And so I try to bring it up to them all the time. ‘Don’t wait until your last game. Do it now.’ Because you just never know what’s coming, and you certainly don’t want any regrets,” Day said. “So this is just another opportunity to get out there. But it also will bring up some emotions. There’s been a lot that they’ve done to get to this point, just a lot of work, and they need to enjoy the day and take it all in.”