Presser Bullets: Ryan Day Confirmed He'll Give Up Playcalling Duties, Final Assistant Coaching Spot Could Be Special Teams Coordinator or Defensive Assistant, Sonny Styles' Future Position Being Evaluated

By Andy Anders on February 7, 2024 at 10:37 am

National Signing Day might have been Wednesday, but Ryan Day's first press conference since the Cotton Bowl put that topic very much on the back burner.

Day hired a new offensive coordinator in Bill O'Brien to call plays, but with O'Brien emerging as a leading candidate for a head coaching vacancy at Boston College, Day discussed some of the uncertainty surrounding the situation.

Plenty of other updates and big-picture items filled the press conference, however. Ohio State is still evaluating the best position for Sonny Styles going forward, and the same goes for Josh Fryar. Day said he could go in either direction when it comes to spending his last open assistant coaching spot on another defensive coach or a special teams coordinator to replace Parker Fleming.

There was also discussion on the division of reps among Ohio State's quarterbacks in the spring, the Buckeyes' additions in the transfer portal including new quarterback Will Howard, NIL and the job of Tim Walton.

  • Day said that there are "no updates" on where O'Brien stands with Boston College.
  • On why he hired O'Brien: "At Ohio State we're chasing that 1 to 2 percent. ... For me to be able to hand over a lot of the duties that I was doing, I was looking for someone that had a great background in the NFL, in the SEC, he had a great background as a former head coach."
  • The culture and testimonies of players at Ohio State were a draw for transfers, Day said. "We're trying to fill needs, but I think guys can see what's going on here."
  • Ohio State is still evaluating the best position for Sonny Styles moving forward. "He has the flexibility to do a lot of different things and that's great. ... He's really willing to embrace some of those roles."
  • Devin Brown is ready to compete at quarterback in spring practice, Day said.
  • Day said that the team can go in a "couple of different directions" with its available 10th assistant coaching spot.
  • Dividing up reps among the quarterbacks this spring will be a matter of seeing what each player needs to be ready for the summer, Day said. "We're going to try and get as many reps as they can of team reps, seven-on-seven reps."
  • Day had high praise for cornerbacks coach Tim Walton. "First off, it's his personality and his makeup and character. ... His background of developing secondary play in the NFL speaks for himself. ... When you get around him more, you just realize, he's talented. ... Our secondary is super competitive, they want to compete in everything they're doing ... I think that reflects Tim's mentality."
  • Day isn't ready to name Howard as the team's starter yet, saying he needs to earn the respect of the building first. "Will came here to play football, so I hope that's his mentality. ... He's gonna learn the offense and get going but he's done a great job so far."
  • TreVeyon Henderson has emerged as a "tremendous" leader this offseason, Day said, which showed when the staff approached him about pursuing Quinshon Judkins in the portal. According to Day, Henderson said, "If you think it helps the team coach, then let's do it."
  • Air Noland and Julian Sayin will have a leg up arriving in the spring, learning the offense and getting acclimated to collegiate life, Day said.
  • Day said he feels it's important for him to "communicate the best I can" with players on the roster when transfer portal additions are made. He said that Ohio State still isn't a program that will add 20 or 30 transfers in a cycle. "When we do, I try to share my thoughts on why."
  • On Dominic Kirks: "He's from the state of Ohio, he understands the rivalry ... he knows he's going to have to come in and work and compete."
  • Day wanted to give a big shoutout to Ohio State general manager Mark Pantoni and his staff. "His job has changed so much in the last couple years and he's killing it right now."
  • Day said it's also a possibility the last coaching spot is used on another full-time special teams coordinator instead of a defensive assistant. "I feel comfortable going either direction, but finding the right guy is what's important."
  • Matt Guerrieri's familiarity with the program and background as both a coordinator and position coach made him an attractive hire as safeties coach, Day said. "I think Matt brings a diverse background."
  • On NIL and SEC schools being mad about Ohio State's spending: "Recruiting's always going to be competitive. It is, that's how it goes. So we're trying to bring in the best talent that we can. ... All these guys wanted to be here."
  • Ohio State's organization behind NIL has been great, Day said. "I think the administration has been unbelievable. ... That's been huge to have that type of support. ... But it all goes back to our players coming back. There's nothing more important than that."
  • On Caleb Downs: "You saw what he did as a freshman. To say we're all excited to have him in the program is an understatement. ... His talent is exceptional, but he's already created an incredible amount of discipline in his life."
  • On having a plan in place for if O'Brien does leave for Boston College: "It isn't one of those situations where you take one guy out and put another guy in there ... we'll have contingency plans in place. Hopefully we don't go down that road, but if we do, we'll adapt."
  • Ohio State will take a chance to evaluate its offensive line in the spring. "A fresh set of eyes, 'What do you see?' And he sees some talent. ... We're gonna have a really competitive spring and see if we have enough."
  • Josh Fryar will play some guard this spring and the staff will evaluate and have conversations with him about a potential move to the interior this year. He could still factor in at tackle, however, Day said.
  • While Day said that he loves the football side of things, calling plays, he knows that with everything going on in the modern era of college football, it was a necessity for him to give up those duties. "I know that that is an ideal situation and I have to do it. ... Do I want to? No."
  • Day confirmed that he believes Ohio State has a championship roster.
  • On Howard: "I like his competitiveness, I like his toughness. ... He's got a mature approach about him, he's got an ability to throw the football and when he needs to run he can run."
  • The addition of Alabama center Seth McLaughlin was "critical" for leadership on the interior of the offensive line, Day said. "He brings something different to the table. ... And I think it's good for our guys to say, 'How is it different than what you were doing at Alabama.'"
  • Day said that James Laurinaitis has impressed him with his ability as a coach and that it's been good to see him get out on the recruiting trail. He feels he has a bright future.
  • O'Brien or whoever the new coordinator is will have a chance to implement some of his own scheme ideas to Ohio State's offense.
  • Day wanted to make sure Ohio State's new transfer quarterback had an ability to run, just to present the threat to a defense. "You want to have someone that at least needs to be accounted for in the run game."
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