Ryan Day raves about several 2021 offensive and defensive signees
Even with National Signing Day having passed by already, Ohio State's 2021 class could potentially receive another addition in the future.
J.T. Tuimoloau, who is seen by most as a Buckeyes lean at this time, opted not to sign his Letter of Intent on Wednesday. He'll instead wait to take his visits before making a decision, which may not happen until late April or early May.
Most of OSU's class has been signed already, which gives head man Ryan Day the freedom to talk about each of the prospects his staff officially added back in December. This allowed him to speak with Rivals National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell this week about this group of incoming freshmen, and you can find that full interview HERE.
Before talking about each individual signee, however, Day opened up about signing the No. 2 overall class on Rivals.
"Well, I mean, first off, I think we did sign a great class," Day told Farrell. "But the thing I always say is, we got to find the number one class for our school, and the right fit culture-wise, you know. And certainly, it's, it's great when people can recognize these guys for being talented and ranking them high. We have some of the best players in the country coming into our program. But more importantly, it's got to be the right fit for us."
Geographically speaking, Ohio State signed one of the most complete classes in this past recruiting cycle. Whether it be Emeka Egbuka from Washington, Donovan Jackson from Texas, Denzel Burke from Arizona or Kyle McCord and Marvin Harrison Jr. from Pennsylvania, distance was not a factor at all for the Buckeyes on the trail.
Day discussed what it means to be a part of an established program that is recognized throughout the nation.
"That's been the thing that we've tried to do is just figure out the right fit for us that could be anywhere in the country," Day said. "The cool thing about Ohio State is we've got a brand that resonates from coast to coast and from the south to the north. So that's great. So how do we identify the right fit for us, you know, in all areas?"
Assessment on some offensive players
There were a couple of key offensive linemen targets the Buckeyes missed out on, but it's hard not to marvel at the group of players they added on offense.
The program signed a pair of five-stars in Egbuka and Jackson, added two of the top running backs in the nation in Evan Pryor and TreVeyon Henderson and, overall, every offensive player they signed had a four-star rating or higher.
Kicking things off for Ohio State on offense was McCord, who rewarded the staff with a commitment nearly two years ago.
"I mean, Kyle was somebody that we saw early on," Day said. "He came to our camp that we really liked just the way he threw it. I really like his size potential. I like his approach to the game; very, very serious and a football junkie... I can tell you one thing about Kyle: He loves football. He's already learning about our protections, our formations, he wants to, you know, just learn more and more and get the playbook and that's a sign of a good quarterback when someone who loves football that way.
"I also liked his leadership. He was one of the first guys to sign on our side of the ball. He did a great job of you know, getting guys together on zoom and different social media and kept building the class."
Day mentioned above that McCord assisted in building the OSU class that is one of the best in the country. One of the most notable players he helped to pursue was Egbuka, who he had been working on developing a relationship with for the better part of his commitment.
Egbuka was a top target for Ohio State not only because of what he'll bring to the football field, but also due to his high character and work in the classroom.
"Emeka was somebody early on that we thought was a dynamite talent, but also a great culture fit," Day said. "Just really well-rounded, 4.0 student and the number one wide receiver in the country. He was a can't-miss and he's gonna have a great career here."
It's reasonable that Egbuka would soak up a lot of attention considering he's the No. 1 overall wide receiver in the country. Joining Egbuka as well, however, are Jayden Ballard and Harrison Jr., both of whom Day is excited to add to his team's already stacked wide receiver room.
"Marvin Harrison is somebody that we had, pegged as unbelievable growth potential and boy, we were right on that one," Day said. "He came in the other day 6’3." He's 205 pounds running like low 4.5s. Couldn't believe what he looks like... I mean, just going to be really talented.
"And Jayden Ballard, talking about somebody who's got really tremendous ball skills downfield. An Ohio product. Comes from a great program in Massillon and, again, another guy who we think could be a really good player for us. So, all those guys, we're very, very excited about. They're all on campus already working."
Switching over from who McCord will be targeting in OSU's aerial attack to the players he'll be handing the ball off to, Henderson and Pryor are a couple of true freshmen that Buckeye Nation cannot wait to see in the Scarlet and Gray.
Day, who credited Tony Alford for doing an excellent job of manufacturing strong bonds with each player, raved about their skill sets. He believes that with continued growth and development, there's a chance both could see the field together at the same time.
"Evan really has great versatility. You know, they both do," Day said. "But I really like Evan's ability to line up a little bit at slot, come back into the backfield, you know, Jet sweeps, he's really good and can do a lot of different things and TreVeyon, a little bit bigger. A little bit more, probably every down back, can do some different things coming off the “I,” can do some things coming out of the backfield as well.
"But, you know, both really, really talented, and they're excited about playing with each other. If both these guys continue to develop the way that they had the last couple of years and can continue to build, I can see us having packages of both of them on the field the same time. They're both that talented."
Switching over to the other side of the ball
Turning our attention over to defense, we already know that the addition of Tuimoloau could quickly change the perception of how that side of the ball was recruited in this cycle.
When evaluating the group of signees they have, however, the standout name here is definitely Jack Sawyer. Along with being the No. 11 overall senior on our rankings service, Day says Sawyer was a five-star recruiter for the Buckeyes on the trail.
"Jack's a man," Day said of Sawyer. "He's one of the most mature young men I have been around at that age in a long time. Just like what Kyle did on offense, he did on defense, early, jumped in and then helped recruit this class. Single handedly just recruited some guys. He's a stud. And I think he's gonna be a great player here."
As some know, Sawyer opted not to play in his final season of high school, citing the uncertainty regarding COVID-19 when opening up about his decision. Another potential factor in that choice was that he had suffered a torn MCL back in November 2019.
According to Day, the 6-foot-5, 240-pounder has no lingering issues from that serious injury he dealt with as a junior.
"It was hard for him not to play this year," Day said. "But I think at the time, there was a lot of unknown. He was coming off of that knee [injury]. It killed him because he's so competitive. But at the same time, he knew how much he had in front of them. And I think it was the right decision for him and his family. But he looks good now that's he is 100%. And boy, I can't wait to get him on the field of spring."
Looking at who Ohio State signed elsewhere on defense, this defensive back class definitely addressed some needs. Ohio State added three of the top 11 cornerbacks in the nation in Jakailin Johnson, Jordan Hancock and Denzel Burke, while also signing four-stars Andre Turrentine and Jantzen Dunn.
With Ohio State admittedly needing more depth in the secondary, Day is in the mindset that they knocked DB recruiting out of the park in this cycle.
"We knew we had to hit a home run this year and I think we did," Day said. "Brought in great numbers. Really good talent. And like you said, you know, we're gonna count on these guys to come in and make an impact. And so, some of these guys are already here, some of them are gonna be here in the summer.
"We try to do a great job through Zoom in any way we can to make sure that when they get here in the summer, they're ready to roll and compete. Because we're going to need some depth there. And we're gonna have to play these guys."
Day would go on to discuss the NCAA Transfer Portal and the future of Ohio State. Stay tuned later today for a story on what Day had to say during his extended conversation with Farrell.