Notebook: Ryan Day opens up about 2021 offensive recruits OSU signed today
On Wednesday, Ohio State head football coach Ryan Day was finally able to talk about recruits in his program's 2021 class.
With all of their 21 commits having signed already and sent in their LOIs, Day had the chance to give his thoughts on each signee and what they bring to the table.
In the story below, BuckeyeGrove gives you a rundown of all the things Day had to say about the offensive players his staff was able to haul in during this cycle. Stay tuned later today for a notebook on the new defensive additions for the Buckeyes.
Day praises McCord for his skill set and willingness to recruit
Behind Jack Sawyer, Kyle McCord was the second-longest-tenured verbal pledge in Ohio State's 2021 class. The borderline five-star signal caller rewarded the Buckeyes with a commitment back on April 30, 2019.
Day and his staff recognized McCord's talent early on, and he's been able to live up to what the program expected of him when he committed as a sophomore. On top of the talent McCord will bring to the quarterback room, Day heaped praise on McCord for being a leader on the recruiting trail as well.
“Kyle, right from the jump, is somebody we recognized early as very, very talented," Day said. "We had an opportunity to watch him play and thought he had a chance to be a really, really good player. I know he’s excited about getting here early on and competing the minute he walks in the door.
“He’s also... the thing that he and his family did during this process, which was a very unique recruiting process in this cycle, was they did a good job recruiting the other players. He jumped in early, and that made a major impact on our recruiting class. We’re very, very excited that he’s now a Buckeye.”
Henderson receives praise for his work on the field and in the classroom
Although it's not unheard of, TreVeyon Henderson had a somewhat interesting recruitment as he has yet to step foot on Ohio State's campus. He committed in late March without ever visiting, and didn't get a chance to tour the school during his time in Columbus for the Buckeye Bash back on Oct. 24.
Day touched on the unique nature of Henderson's recruiting process, as well as his thoughts on the Rivals100 RB's success in the classroom.
“First off, as a person, TreVeyon is one of the more special people I’ve had an opportunity to get to know," Day said. "The crazy thing about this is he has not been on our campus. The crazy thing is he’s coming in with another running back in Evan Pryor; both are really, really talented young men, but it’s who these guys are.
"TreVeyon is a 4.0 student, No. 1 running back in the country. Hasn’t visited here, comes in with another running back, and these guys have built a special relationship, he and Evan.”
The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing dead period has been a major blow for high school football prospects across the country. It prevented Henderson from being able to take his official and unofficial visits to Ohio State, as well as not get a chance to interact with Day and his staff in person.
Henderson had a lot of hurdles for most of this year, but earned praise from Day for how he's adjusted and what he's done to assist them on the trail.
“And then what he’s done, again, to recruit this class… I mean, I can’t wait to get around these guys," Day said. "It’s been like forever since we’ve seen them, and some of these guys we haven’t met in person, which is unbelievable to me.
"But how cool is it to see a guy like this that’s a top running back in the country, a 4.0 student, making connections with so many other recruits with the dream to come in here and be a part of a culture that is about winning championships, bettering themselves and being the best version of themselves. Can’t wait to get around him. Really excited that he’s a Buckeye.”
Day is obviously a huge fan of who Henderson is off the field, but his skill set on the gridiron cannot go unnoticed. Henderson possesses track-like speed, incredible elusiveness and can take it to the house on any given play.
Ohio State's head coach also went on to compliment fellow Rivals100 RB Evan Pryor, who can do damage both on the ground and in a team's aerial attack.
“I think they’d both tell you they’re maybe a little different styles of backs,” Day said. “Evan is a little bit more of a hybrid, not that Tre can’t do some of those same things. He can do a lot of things in space. He’s really good as a running back, he can get out in jet sweeps, he can catch bubbles, he can get the ball on the perimeter and catch it. Tre is more of an every down back, but it’ll be interesting to see how they develop.
“You think you have it one way until they get here, but we kind of go from there. I’ve always said, you guys have heard me say this all the time, you adapt to the players that you have… we’ll always adapt and move things around based on our personnel. We try to get the best available and adapt.”
Day discusses recent five-star commit Emeka Egbuka
Emeka Egbuka could have waited until the beginning of the Early Signing Period and had three hats on the table before announcing his decision.
Instead, the top-ranked wide receiver on Rivals did not want to wait any longer as he committed to the Buckeyes last Friday. Oklahoma felt a lot of confidence after he made his way out to Norman just over a week ago, but Ohio State ultimately won out for his services.
Day credited wide receivers coach Brian Hartline for how he was able to manufacture a strong bond with not only Egbuka, but his family as well.
“Emeka is a special young man," Day said. "He’s somebody we identified early on. Brian Hartline did an excellent job building a strong relationship there with he and his family. I was at his high school twice over this whole recruiting process the last couple of years.
"But it’s been the same thing… I know he wanted to come back and visit during this time, but he wasn’t able to. He was able to get out here and get a feel [in 2019], and I think he fell in love with the place when he got here. This is another 4.0 student, No. 1 wide receiver in the country. Culture fit and, again, the fact that Emeka had decided to come become a Buckeye was huge for us. He’s just another piece of the puzzle here."
A big theme in Day's press conference today was that Ohio State added guys who fit their culture. Egbuka certainly fits the mold for the type of player and student the Buckeyes are trying to add to their program.
"He’s, again, when you look at the combination of ability and who they are… I’m talking about a 4.0 student right here coming from across the country to come be a part of this culture is really special, and in a year that’ been really hard," Day added. "Hats off to our staff, but hats off to his family and the work that they put in to find the right place for him and his family.”
Offensive line recruiting earns an "A" from Day
While Ohio State did miss out on noteworthy targets Jager Burton and J.C. Latham, Day was more than satisfied with how they recruited offensive linemen in this class. The Buckeyes were able to reel in signatures from five-star Donovan Jackson, Rivals100 o-lineman Ben Christman and a sleeper prospect in Zenuae Michalski.
“I think Stud worked his tail off and, again, Mark [Pantoni] and everybody did," Day said. "I think we got three really good players, all very different."
The trio of offensive linemen Studrawa and company signed are all fairly similar in their measurements. They're all either 6-foot-4 or 6-foot-6, and weigh in from 285 to 298 pounds.
Each have different positions listed on their Rivals profile pages, but Day believes they're capable of lining up anywhere along the offensive line.
“I think all three of them can play [offensive tackle]," Day said. "We’ve talked about that. I think that’s what’s great about all three of them is they have great versatility. What is he? He’s an offensive lineman. That’s when you really know.
“I think it’s great to have that versatility with all three of those guys. They can play multiple positions if you need them to. We’ll see once they get here, move them around a little bit and see where they’re at. But I think, again, that’s what makes them special.”
Christman committed to the Buckeyes all the way back on June 26, 2019, and never looked back on his recruitment. He is one of six players from the state of Ohio who signed with the program today, and Day talked in general terms about the group of in-state prospects they were able to reel in in this cycle.
“Ben Christman and his family, right from the jump, have been tremendous this whole time," Day said. "The communication has really had to happen like this in Zooms, FaceTimes, texting. All of these guys in Ohio are going to be really good players and you just know it.
"Sometimes you’re not sure… you just know because we really had to dig deep into who these people are and more because of the unique year this has been. I agree with that. This Ohio group is really, really special.”
Day also touched on a little bit about Christman's skill set and what he believes is in store for him in the future.
"Ben, we talked about in Ohio, big, strong, athletic guy," Day said. "He’s going to have a really good career here."
Ohio State is able to recruit at a fairly high level in the Lone Star State, and they continued that trend by signing Donovan Jackson today. Jackson is the top-ranked guard on Rivals, as well as the No. 13 overall player in his class.
Jackson certainly had a wealth of options to choose from, and was down to a group of five that consisted of Georgia, Ohio State, Stanford, Texas and Texas A&M prior to committing to the Buckeyes.
The Houston-based recruit has been loyal to the program since his decision was made on Jan. 8, and Day shared a funny story about how his commitment went down.
“Donovan Jackson just jumps off the film," Day said. "He had a funny commitment to us when things were still early on in the process. He was in my office and I was not expecting him to commit, and when he did, I almost fell on the floor. That was a huge deal for us to get Donovan. Him and his family are unbelievable. They’ve been great throughout this whole process.
“Just schools continuously trying to recruit him out of Texas and he stayed strong. His loyalty and faith has been tremendous. Another really, really good student and great culture fit.”
Zenuae Michalski did not get an offer from Ohio State until September, but that's all he needed for his recruitment to turn around 180 degrees.
You see, Michalski was previously committed to nearby Louisville, but did not have too many big-time offers on the table. That was until the Buckeyes entered the mix on Sept. 8 of this year, which was followed up by offers from Florida State and Penn State.
"And then Zen is a unique situation," Day said. "This is a guy who put on 60-70 pounds in just about a year. This is one of the things we really didn’t have the opportunity to have was to evaluate 2021 guys on senior film. And because of that, it’s been a strange year because a lot of these guys didn’t play, but Zen did.
"We saw right away when we watched his film; Mark brought it down, Stud looked at it. Everybody said, ‘What are we missing here?’
In terms of how the offer went down in September, Michalski showed the staff exactly what they needed to see on Sept. 4 against Elder High School. The now four-star prospect had a solid game, and ended up receiving the green light from Day's staff less than a week later.
"We just kept watching his film and then he played against Elder, and did a great job there," Day said. "We’re like, ‘This guy has a chance to be special.’ He’s in our footprint. We’re really excited to get Zen as well. Three really talented young men. I’d give it an A.”
Day on four-star TE Sam Hart: "Sam is going to come in and make an impact early on."
Ohio State's tight end room will certainly be one to keep an eye on over these next couple of years. Luke Farrell and Jake Hausmann are both set to graduate after this year, and it's unknown if Jeremy Ruckert will forgo his senior season to enter the NFL Draft or not.
Even with some uncertainties here, Day is very excited about how the position is looking, especially with Sam Hart coming in.
“We feel good about the tight end room’s depth,” Day said. “We feel like some of these young guys have really grown and gotten better. Kevin has done a really good job developing that room. We’re certainly going to miss Luke; Ruck is going to make a decision.
"Sam is going to come in and make an impact early on. I think that room has done a really good job… you think about Jake Hausmann doing a really good job day in and day out in providing depth there and giving us really good plays this season."
As he noted about several recruits before in the press conference, Day is happy about Hart because of the way he'll fit the program's culture.
"It’s been a room of strength, and I think some of these tight ends have seen what our plan is for that position moving forward," Day said. "I think some guys are really excited about that. Sam decided he was going to jump in really early on in the process as well. We’re really excited about him. Another great fit, great family. Looking forward to getting to working with him.”
Stay tuned to BuckeyeGrove.