Presser Bullets: Ryan Day Discusses His First Recruiting Class on Early Signing Day

By Dan Hope on December 19, 2018 at 2:50 pm

After officially signing 14 players to his first-ever recruiting class on Wednesday (Jaden McKenzie had not yet signed at the time of his press conference), soon-to-be Ohio State head coach Ryan Day met with the media on Wednesday afternoon to talk about the Buckeyes' early signing period haul and what's next for the Buckeyes.

In addition to discussing Wednesday's signees, including five-star defensive end Zach Harrison, Day also talked about what the Buckeyes still need to do to finish out their recruiting class of 2019 – including their need for a quarterback after Dwan Mathis' flip to Georgia on Wednesday morning – and about what the Buckeyes will need to do from a recruiting standpoint in 2020 and beyond.

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

  • Day on Ohio State's 2019 recruiting class: "I think this class would rank top-5 nationally when grading the individual players." Said the Buckeyes don't have as many slots in the 2019 recruiting class due to the lack of seniors this year, hence the smaller class.
  • Day said he felt good about the home visit he and Larry Johnson had with Zach Harrison. “The family trusted that we were going to take care of their son when he came to Ohio State.” Overall, he said Harrison's recruitment was a long process that came "down to the wire."
  • Day hit the recruiting trail the night after he was announced as Ohio State's next coach and said the past two weeks have been a "whirlwind" and "exhausting." “I’ve felt like I’ve had two phones to my ear the past two weeks."
  • Day said recruiting kids from Ohio will always be the first priority. Five of the Buckeyes' first 14 signees this year are from Ohio.
  • Day said the Buckeyes will figure out their quarterback plan after finding out Dwayne Haskins' decision on his future after the Rose Bowl. “We always want to have four guys on the roster.”
  • Day said he would not comment or speculate on whether Ohio State will pursue a transfer quarterback, but said he has confidence in both Tate Martell and Matthew Baldwin and their potential for the future.
  • On whether the Buckeyes will pursue transfers, in general: “We’ll always look at all the options, whatever we think can help our roster.”
  • Day said he felt the families he made strong relationships earlier in the recruiting process, including Garrett Wilson's family and Harry Miller's family, talked to other families and expressed their confidence in Day's ability to lead the program forward without Urban Meyer.
  • On keeping the current infrastructure of Ohio State's program in place: "We're not going to come in and blow that up."
  • Day described Garrett Wilson as a great football player who could also "be a Division I basketball player if he wanted to be, but an even better young man."
  • The day after Day was in Times Square to attend the Heisman Trophy ceremony, he was visiting Cade Stover on his family farm in Lexington. Described that as an "extreme" juxtaposition in environments.
  • Day said he received a congratulatory text message from Chris Holtmann when he was named Ohio State's next head coach, and that he and his wife sat down with Holtmann and his wife this past week.
  • On Harrison: "The potential that he has, all you can think of are the Bosas are the world, and some of the top defensive ends in the United States of America ... The ceiling for Zach is really, really high."
  • On the importance of landing Harrison: "This is the ones we had to win ... that was a big get for us."
  • On the players the Buckeyes signed: "The kids that we have, we love. We love these kids."
  • Day said the loyalty of the recruits who stuck with Ohio State through everything that happened this year is "amazing."
  • Day said "there isn't that much room" for the Buckeyes to sign many more players in this recruiting class, but says he and his fellow coaches do "need to do a really good job" of identifying the talent who is still on the board and seeing who they can get.
  • On recruiting the offensive line: "We do a really good job in the 2020 class" to make up some numbers on that unit. Said the Buckeyes are hoping that Michael Jordan decides to stay for his senior year.
  • On freshman running back Brian Snead, who has been suspended since Ohio State's first two games of the season: "I don't have an update on him right now."
  • Day said that both his relationship with Haskins and Haskins' success on the field have to be part of his pitch on the recruiting trail.
  • On the impact of having Larry Johnson on his staff: "Huge. Larry, he's a legend. He has a legacy here ... There's defensive linemen all over the country that want to come and be coached by Larry Johnson."
  • Day said the Buckeyes are losing three key leaders who are tough to replace in the wide receiver room in Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin, but is excited about bringing in Wilson and Jameson Williams as potential replacements.
  • Ryan Day on wide receivers coach Brian Hartline: "We're very excited about Brian ... that's a big hire for us. To get him elevated means a lot for our program."
  • Day did not comment on which other assistant coaches will be retained, but said it is "very, very important" to make sure he has the right coaches on his staff.
  • "Our staff is going to be one of the best recruiters in the country. That's the first part of this thing as we move forward."
  • On recruiting Harry Miller: "It was us and Stanford in the end, and he chose Ohio State," which he believes speaks to what Ohio State can offer student-athletes academically.
  • On striking the correct balance between maintaining the infrastructure and doing things his own way: "You trust your instincts. I don't think there's any right or wrong answer."
  • On quarterbacks: "I think the No. 1 thing you look for is some sort of extraordinary trait." Arm talent and accuracy are important, but said he believes it is important to be adjust the offense to quarterbacks who have other extraordinary traits, like J.T. Barrett and his running ability.
  • On missing on in-state offensive linemen: "It's something that for sure, I'm well aware of, and it's something that we got to do a better job of."
  • On assistant athletic director of player personnel Mark Pantoni, who is being retained from Meyer's staff: "I have the ultimate respect for Mark. I think he's the best there is in the business."
  • On the state of quarterback recruiting in college football: "It's pretty wild right now." Said recruits need to understand that their best chance of success is to go to a place that can develop them, not simply where they can play right away. Day says "one of the best things to happen to Dwayne Haskins" was him waiting to play until this year. He says Haskins would agree with him, and they have talked about it.
  • Day said it is crucial for Ohio State to be great on defense, not just to be great on offense. "The No. 1 thing in our plan to win is to play great defense." 
  • Day said the goal of the last two weeks was to get into homes and explain his background and who he is as a person and his vision for the program.
  • Ohio State will hold its final practice on campus this season on Thursday morning before breaking for the holidays. The Buckeyes will reconvene on Christmas night, with some players traveling directly to Pasadena and the rest of the team flying on a team charter from Columbus.

Stay tuned with Eleven Warriors for much more coverage of the early signing period and the new crop of incoming Buckeyes.

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