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OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
December 18, 2019
RYAN DAY: Had a great morning. So far this has been -- what a great day this has been. We have 24 guys that signed in this class. We think it's an unbelievable class. As this coaching staff's inaugural class, there's a lot of people that had to make this happen, and the thing that I want to make sure I do first off publicly is thank the families. There's a lot of families here that jumped on board here before we won a game at all this year, and they believed in what we were talking to these families about and the philosophies and what was going to go on. And here we are in the early signing day, and undefeated, playing in the national semifinals.
I just want to say thank you publicly to all the families out there and the recruits who believed in us from the beginning, and this is going to be one heck of a class. We have eight guys from Ohio, we have 13 states represented, and 14 of these guys are coming in at mid year, which is the highest we've ever had here, so we're excited to get these guys in here and get to work. With that, I'll answer any of your questions.
Q. Obviously you guys had a couple defensive backs committed who haven't signed yet, but other than that, is the class pretty much full at this point?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, yeah, 24 guys, that's a full class right there. I thought the staff did an unbelievable job, and you could tell the relationships that were built to get guys like Lejond Cavazos and Ryan Watts, Lathan Ransom, Kourt Williams, to get these guys here, going through the turmoil that we went in with losing Jeff, just goes to show you how much these guys love Ohio State and how much they want to be here and how much they believe in the development that goes on here. They made their commitment to Ohio State and I know Buckeye Nation is really happy they signed today.
Q. What was the process like for the defensive backs? Who all was involved in that and playing those roles?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, we just talked about how when you come to Ohio State you're going to go to practice first off against the best players in the country every day. There's been NFL GMs that ask to come in and watch our practice film. Why, because there's first rounders going against you every single day. That's one of the things that we do, and then also, Mickey Marotti is a huge part of the development here at any position, certainly at DB, and that defense is not going to change. This is a defense that I had a vision for, and Jeff came in and did a great job of putting that defense on the field this year but recruited to that system, and it was a team effort. It was everybody just communicating with that. It was Mark Pantoni, it was Matt Barnes, and I obviously had a big hand in it.
Q. Do you guys having anyone serving as a temp assistant coach serving on the recruiting trail?
RYAN DAY: No. You know, Jeff was out there recruiting up until the last day of recruiting when we were on the road. Jeff also reached out to those guys and understands that this has been a great place before Jeff came and it'll be great after he left, and he was fortunate enough to be a part of this thing, but we're going to be in great hands moving forward.
Q. As you mentioned, most of the guys in the class committed well before you were 13-0. How much momentum does this give you going into 2021?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I think it gives us unbelievable momentum. Just talking about getting some of the best players in the country, but the best people. I think you're going to find out as these guys come in, they're some of the best people I've been around just in terms of the way that they handle their business on and off the field. Great students, captains, leadership, and again, loyalty. From the get-go on this thing, these guys have been loyal. A couple things that came through, whether it was the change in staff from Coach Meyer to me and our staff and then also just not knowing throughout the summer what this year was going to look like, and there was a faith there and that means a lot to me, and then for the guys who lost Jeff right here a week before signing day.
That shows a lot about who these people are. I thought going into this recruiting cycle, offensive line was a huge deal, and I thought Coach Stud did an unbelievable job. We signed six offensive linemen, three from Ohio, one from Indiana, one from the state up north, and then one from New Jersey.
Paris Johnson, the No. 1 tackle in America, he's been with us all along. He helped us in recruiting. He and his mom Monica were a huge part of this thing. I owe them everything because they've kind of kept this thing together for us. They've been a huge part of it, and he's going to have an unbelievable career here.
But again, that was a position of need going into this class, and I thought we hit a home run there.
Q. I want to get your opinion on the timing of the early signing period in football. What do you think about the timing, just six weeks away from the next signing day? Do you think it should be before the season?
RYAN DAY: I've got to really sit down and think about this because I was not part of those conversations but I'm in it right now, and however this came down, I'm not sure that they realized what this was going to be like for a coaching staff and a team where you're playing on the 28th, you play in a Big Ten Championship game, you have one week on the road to go recruit these guys and get out there. There's possible coaching changes on your staff. You have 14 guys coming at mid year. You have award shows to go to, and then, by the way, once you get off the road you have two weeks to get ready to go play Clemson. That's a very stressful time, and it is what it is, we're keeping our head down and we're going, but I think we have to take a hard look at that.
Q. Last year when we talked to you about the class you were trying to keep it together after the coaching change. This is your first time to put together a whole class. Curious how it was different for you this time around, attacking it from the head coaching perspective?
RYAN DAY: Well, at this time last year, like you said, it was just talking to the guys about our coaching staff and where we were going and that was kind of a short order. But this was our first real class. This is our first class from beginning to end. There was a lot more time, a lot more relationships built with deeper connections there and just a lot more time. Again, I thought our staff did a great job. You talk about some of the work it takes to recruit nationally, just the travel and time and phone calls and the work Mark Pantoni and his staff did to get this class together is just tremendous. It's great to celebrate on a day like today because there's so much work that gets put into this.
Q. How much did you take from working under Coach Meyer, how you handle all this, the importance of recruiting? Obviously that's important, but he put such an emphasis on these type of classes.
RYAN DAY: Yeah, he was a great recruiter. He really recruited unbelievable players here, and that's why our roster is so good the way it is right now. So we want to continue that, and learned a ton.
Q. I wanted to ask you about the receiver hall. A couple five stars, a couple four stars, how that class came together, and have you seen a group in one class just that strong with what you have there with Julian and Jaxon and Gee and with Luke?
RYAN DAY: No, this is probably the strongest class I've seen in a long time that I can remember. Julian Fleming had an unbelievable high school career, comes in highly decorated, but he's a great young man. His family is awesome. His mom Betsy and his grandfather Mick and all of them, they're really going to help support him while we're here. That was a hard decision for him to leave Pennsylvania to come here, but he's going to have a great career here, and we think that he has a chance to be a great one.
And then Jaxon, talk about having an unbelievable season. The season he had down there at Rockwall is, again, one of the better ones I've seen in a long time. Again, I can't wait to see him on the field. Gee Scott is one of those guys that every time you talk about Gee Scott, everybody has unbelievable things to say about him. Why? Because he's not only a great player but he's a great person. He's been loyal from the get-go. This is a young man from Seattle, Washington, who's got a long way to come here and a lot of people had to go through that door to say, hey, why don't you stay closer to home, and he stayed loyal the whole time. He's a big, strong, physical receiver that's got a chance to be great.
And then Mookie Cooper, didn't get a chance t play this year because of an ineligibility situation in his school, but he's more of a slot receiver. He kind of is going to work inside a little bit, great short-area quickness, so I know he's looking forward to getting back on the field and playing. But again, I think those are real weapons. And I think that had something to do with being about to sign two quarterbacks in this class was knowing they're coming in with really good receivers.
Q. With Gee, talk about him being a good person, there were stories coming out of Seattle with him friending the homeless Buckeye fan and everything. Talk about Gee maybe as a person, what he's like off the field?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, he's special. Like you said, he's got a huge heart. Some of the stuff he's done you guys have seen, but we saw that early on, and what he's done to help put this class together just through text messages, group texts, talking to those guys, meeting different guys at camps when he's here on campus, and again, comes from a great family, and I can't say enough about who he is, but also as a player. You talk about a dominant physical player when you watch his film, it just jumps off the screen. Super excited he's a Buckeye.
Q. What's your relationship like with Luke Wypler, both East Coast guys coming to the Midwest? I wonder if you guys bonded over that type of stuff?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, we did. His coach Augie Hoffman played at Boston College when I was there. He was an offensive lineman, and that's an area that I've recruited when I was at Boston College. It's a great school, and Luke is another guy who was bought in from the beginning. He never wavered at all. I think he's got a chance to be a great interior lineman. You talk about somebody who really takes a lot of pride in the way he goes about his business, he's going to come in here, going to be detailed, he's going to work hard. He comes from a great program, and again, another guy that I think has got a great ceiling.
Q. How do you think he exemplifies both East Coast and Midwest qualities?
RYAN DAY: Well, that's a good question. I think he's definitely got some Jersey in him. He's got an edge to him, but he also has that hard-working mentality that I think he's got a lot of pride and loyalty. So yeah, I agree. I think he's got kind of both things.
Q. Do you remember who his dog is named after?
RYAN DAY: I forget.
Q. Mark Sanchez.
RYAN DAY: Oh, that's right, with the Jets.
Q. Do you guys remember bonding over that, too.
RYAN DAY: Yeah, we talked about that for a while, too, because I coached Mark when I was with the Eagles. That's right, I forgot about that.
Q. When you are scouting or looking at players, do you compare them to past players that these receivers, do they remind you of other players?
RYAN DAY: Sometimes. Sometimes you see somebody and you say, that guy kind of reminds me of somebody else. But then other times they just kind of are who they are, and then the more you get around them, the more you learn about them, too. Because it is hard to kind of see things on film. Film helps you. It's a part of the process. But so much of it is who they are as people, too, and their work ethic, and when you go into the school you ask the guidance counselors and the assistant coaches and all the people in the school about who they are, and that's just as important as anything. I don't think you truly get a feel for who they are until they get here and they're in the program for a little while.
Q. With Jaxon, just the numbers that he puts up, how is that possible? What do you think when you see that, when you see the constant production? Does it translate to college?
RYAN DAY: I hope so, yeah. It's exciting when you see stuff like that, when you just see the numbers, over 200 yards receiving a game, one-handed catches, releases where guys fall down on the ground. Yeah, that gets exciting. We can't wait to get him here.
Q. Obviously yourself and two of the other teams in the playoff are showing what you can do with a transfer quarterback, but getting two guys in this class, what does that help you do as far as maybe establishing something long-term here and did you see that as something that was important?
RYAN DAY: Huge, and this was not something we took lightly. This is difficult stuff. You guys have asked me a lot of questions over the last year about transfers and with Joe and with Justin and different things that have gone on. We've lost Matthew and Tate and trying to figure out what that is, and so the idea is to have four quarterbacks in that room, and that's not easy to do.
And we felt like we had to try to get more depth in that room. Jack and CJ both brings different things to the table. Jack is somebody that has been committed all along. He was loyal from the get-go. I watched him throw when he was 16 years old, and I saw something in him, and he never wavered, either. And I think he's got a chance to be a really good player. And then CJ is somebody who came on the scene a little bit later, and I think he has a high ceiling, as well.
Both kind of different stories, but I think both are really excited to come in here and go fight for playing time. I think to say that they're going to go compete with Justin to be the starter next year is a little bit unfair, but to fight for that backup spot next year is real. They'll both be coming in here, and you never know how that works. Before you know it, you're in it. In order to go win championships, you have to have depth at that position.
What an opportunity for a couple guys to come in and compete against each other, get developed in what I think is the best offense in college football and get coached by some of the best coaches.
Q. Obviously things worked out really well with Justin. They're not always going to work out immediately that well. Is there something about bringing these two guys in yourself, the background you had, you get to kind of build this from the ground up, the kind of quarterback you want at the front of this program?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I mean, Mike Yurcich did a great job recruiting these guys, and he's going to do everything he can to develop these two, and that's the promise you make in recruiting. We're going to do everything we can to develop you. And yeah, I think this offense is very quarterback friendly, and when you look at our history and the past, what we've done here, having Dwayne and seeing what Joe did and now Justin being in New York City, I think it speaks for itself. I think it's exciting, and not being able to have to start right away is a good thing. I think it's good when you can get developed, and it's going to start in a couple weeks here. Those guys will be enrolled in school, they'll get going with Mick on the mat drills and everything else, and then before you know it we're in spring ball and we go from there.
Q. CJ has some things in common with Justin and Dwayne as far as they're trained by the same QB trainer and Quincy was here when CJ came for the game. Did you lean on Quincy when asking for some evaluations on CJ?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, there's a lot of guys that we ask. All these recruits, we just ask different people for their opinions on these guys. Because you don't get to spend as much time with these guys. You just don't. By the time it's contact period, like for instance, we recruited all these guys for years, and the only time we were allowed to actually go into their home and have contact with them was this past week before we got here. That's it. So all the other time is on campus. So many people around the school at these camps, different people you trust are the people you ask to find out more about them, and then the more people you trust, you trust their opinions, you kind of go with that as time goes on, and then you make your own opinions. Yeah, certainly I think the mark of a good recruiter is asking a lot of questions and finding out what other people think.
Q. You made an emphasis on wanting to kind of take back Ohio when you first took this job in recruiting, and you did that with this class and also are off to a good start with 2021. But I think all the guys in this class are from southern Ohio. What did you guys locate in that area when you guys were looking for recruits?
RYAN DAY: Until you said that, I didn't really notice that. It really has nothing to do with the location in Ohio, other than I think that's maybe just circumstance more than anything. But maybe in a couple years it'll be all northern Ohio.
Because I think Trey is from -- he's not from southern Ohio. There's just kind of trends, I guess, as time goes on. So we're just -- obviously Ohio has a priority for us and always will, and certainly offensive linemen from Ohio, that was great for us, that was really big, and we'll keep recruiting Ohio because they have priority, and it means a lot to the people in Ohio to be Buckeyes and to be a part of this thing, and that matters to us.
Q. There were some guys in this class that committed before you took the job, and obviously Paris stayed committed the entire time and Lejond decided to decommit and reopen his options, then came back to the class. What were some of your conversations with those guys when you first took the job and they were getting to know you?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, Paris we sat down with he and Monica and just said, listen, we want to just kind of start from scratch, and we kind of just literally wiped the slate clean and started from scratch and just got to know each other and spending time with each other and getting to another each other on and off the field, and over time that relationship and trust grew to where it is right now. We had a conversation, emotional conversation early this morning just talking about how we're finally here and we made it, and again, I just thanked them for their loyalty and all that, and then with Lejond, he kind of went through that same process. He did decommit and then decided he wanted to be a Buckeye, and then what his dad did, CJ, too, to help us with this thing was unbelievable. He knows football and he's got a great way around these young men, and he helped us a lot, as well. Both of those guys really mean a lot to me.
Q. In a world where the transfer portal exists, is it easier to get two elite-level quarterbacks because they've seen players like Joe Burrow be successful if things don't work out? Is that just the world you live in where they have a safety blanket?
RYAN DAY: I don't know. I try not to think about that. I know it's real. I know it's a real question. But we bring in guys to come in here and develop and get a degree from Ohio State and go play and stay throughout their career. We try to tackle those things as they come up, and I understand the question, but I hope not. I hope people don't leave. You try to bring guys in. But there are situations that come up and you try to deal with them one situation at a time. But I know this: I think our future at quarterback is much stronger after today.
Q. Are you ever going to go into a signing day without complete panic?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, there's a lot of stress. There's a lot that goes into it because there's so much time put into it. Again, it goes back to relationships, and I think if you've build relationships over time and built trust, then when things like this come up, you can just calm the waters a little bit, and I think that's what happened.
Q. You have commitments I think from 13 different states in this class, and when Urban Meyer was here obviously he brought this program into the national spotlight and was taking the already big Ohio State brand and it made it a national brand, but part of that was because he was like a larger-than-life figure that everybody knew. I was wondering, did you have a lot of challenges continuing to keep that national recruiting approach? What difficulties did you maybe encounter, and how do you think you were able to continue signing a national Urban Meyer-like class in your first year doing this?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I certainly think what you say is accurate. I also think that the world has gotten smaller. I think with the internet, with just the way the world is now, no matter where you go and they see that block O, it's unbelievable, it doesn't matter. When we went out to see Enokk Vimahi, there were people in Hawaii that recognized me right away, and that was before I had coached a game. You go into California, there are Buckeyes everywhere. You go out to Washington, it's unbelievable. Went down to Charlotte, North Carolina, to the Nagurski award, and there was a whole Buckeye club of just hundreds of people. We go down to Dallas, Texas, there's Buckeyes everywhere.
I think the brand of Buckeye Nation is throughout the country, and I think people feel that. I think they feel nowadays kids are more inclined to get on a plane and come to school in Ohio. I think that's changed a little bit, maybe more than 20 years ago when it was a little bit more regional based I would say.
But no, I think that for the most part families are supportive of their sons in doing that. There are some that we faced where they say, we want you to be closer to home, and that happens. I'm not going to get into specifics on who those were, but they wanted to stay maybe within an eight-hour radius or whatever that is. But we try to target the right profile for Ohio State, making sure that we have the right students and the right background and everything like that, and then we go get them.
We find out if there's real interest. We try not to talk people into coming here. That's the other thing. I think the day of selling and just trying to get guys to sign their name on a piece of paper, those days are over because of the transfer portal. And so you have to talk to them about your school, talk to them about what you're going to do. You have to treat them the same way that they're being recruited and then you go from there.
And so I think our staff did a great job of that, and it's great to see such a variety of guys throughout the country coming into this class.
Q. I understand that Ohio State is a big brand, there's no question about it, but there are other programs in this country that have big brands that can't recruit the way this place has been recruiting the last seven years, and Urban Meyer had a name to him. Maybe you're building yours now in the playoff, undefeated, the first year. Did you encounter any when you were on the road -- Urban Meyer, everybody knew who Urban Meyer was. Maybe you didn't have that at the beginning of the year. Was there any difficulties in continuing that?
RYAN DAY: No. Certainly like you said, Urban is larger than life when he goes on the road and he's like a rock star and all that. But at the end of the day, I think these kids want relationships and they want people who care about their kids. That's what it comes down to in the end. It's about building the relationships, and then bringing them here. And once they get here, they realize that this is such a special place, and the circle of care that's been built here by Gene Smith and the administration, it just blows people away. I think they feel that family atmosphere. It's hard to find a place where you're competing for National Championships but when you walk in the building you just feel the love and you feel family. I think more than anything, that's what a parent wants.
As a head coach, I want to be approachable and be able to pick up my phone and talk to them about those things and be there to develop their sons, and I think, again, Ohio State will get you in the door, but that's not going to close the deal. You have to really show you're going to take care of their sons, and that's what I think our staff has done a good job of.
Q. I don't mean to belabor the quarterback point, but signing two, especially as difficult as the process is anymore, you talked about it a number of times, you didn't get to sell the same thing as other schools that were just looking for one guy. How did you pull this off, I guess?
RYAN DAY: It's not even pulling it off. It's just what a great opportunity. I think if you're a high school quarterback right now, a lot of people that would want to do that, and it's an exciting time. Just look what we've done the last couple years and look what Justin has done, look what Dwayne has done and look what Joe has done. When you combine that all up, there's some great excitement. And I think for the situation that we have, it's unbelievable because you have Justin and you have Gunnar, but other than that, there's nobody in the program other than some of the other walk-ons who are still developing, and we hope they become candidates to win a backup job or whatever.
But in terms of scholarship guys, that's it, because we had the hole in there with Matt and with Tate left. So I think that was exciting to them, and they want to get in here and get developed, and I think they see what we're doing on offense and it's exciting to them.
Q. At running back I think it was an up-and-down year for you recruiting there. To end up with Miyan, what made him the guy?
RYAN DAY: First off, he's from Ohio. That matters a lot. He's a big, strong, physical back. He's very, very productive. Everybody in that area just talked about how strong of a runner he was, how productive he was, and so after we kept going through it over and over again, we looked at a lot of people throughout the country, we're like wait a minute, we've got on right in Ohio here. And that meant a lot to us. I just think he's going to have a great career. He runs with an edge. He runs tough, he runs hard. It's like he's angry when he runs. We like that. And he's big and strong. We just think he's a great fit and he's another Buckeye.
Q. Urban Meyer always said the No. 1 trait he looked for in a recruit was competitiveness. What's the No. 1 thing that you want when you're out recruiting?
RYAN DAY: I mean, competitiveness is one of them, but there's so many more things that go into it that we look for. It's the whole package, whether it's the film, whether it's the transcript, whether it's what people say in the school, it's just a piece of the pie. And I think when you start to put all those pieces together, you get a good picture of who they are. But there's a lot that goes into it, the right fit, the right background, the right family situation, and it's not always a perfect thing, like we'll just look for one thing. No, it's a lot, and especially here, because there's a lot of people that want to be Buckeyes.
We can go recruit some of the best players and best families and best students in the country and we don't have to compromise in one of those areas.
Q. Your feeling after the Michigan win was one of relief. What is it today?
RYAN DAY: This is exciting. This is a great day for us. The amount of work that gets put into putting a class together, the phone calls, the traveling, the meetings, just on a -- let's say it's a junior day after spring ball, the meetings in your office, the talk, the families. You can't imagine the amount of time it takes in recruiting, and to put together a class like this, it's just great. And we have great people, too.
You want to know where the program is headed? Obviously you look at how we did this year, that's great, but when you want to look at the future, you look at recruiting. And not only do we have great players, we have great families, we have great students and great people and great leaders who are loyal. It wasn't easy for them. It wasn't like this was real smooth this last year. We had a coaching change, we had Coach Hafley leave a week before signing day, and these guys stuck in there, and that goes to show you when adversity hits these guys are going to be strong. It's exciting for our program because it's our future.
Q. You guys are preparing to face a pretty versatile defender in Isaiah Simmons. You've done a lot of different things with Pete Werner this year. When you look at Kourt Williams, do you see him as that kind of player and what did you guys like about him?
RYAN DAY: First off, Kourt, I'll be surprised if he's not a captain when he's here. I've said that to he and his parents a million times. They're probably tired of hearing me say that. But state champ in California, which is not easy to do. He comes from a great program, same program as Wyatt Davis, and the coaches at Bosco do an unbelievable job. To go and win the way they did in the state championship, play the way that they played, he's playing at a high level, and he's got a lot of versatility. He can do a lot of things. So we're going to find different ways to get him on the field, like you said. He kind of has -- he's a little bit different style than Simmons. Simmons is a little bit longer. Kourt is maybe a little bit more compact and bigger, but the same idea, thought. You can use different things with them, and those are the kind of guys you want.
Q. Is it hard to evaluate guys at the high school level when you're looking for somebody like that? How often do you encounter use guys in that way?
RYAN DAY: More and more. I think more and more now. I think more with the three-down fronts and the hybrid fronts, you're starting to see more of that in high school.
Q. This offensive line class, you talked about it a little bit. It looks like you have a pretty good mix of guys who if you needed them to are a little advanced, could play maybe next year and then some developmental guys. Is this the sweet spot for an offensive line group, and then for those developmental players, how important is it that they come from Ohio and neighboring states and not from far away?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, you hit it right on the head. I think it's a great mix. I think you're looking at guys like Paris and Luke who have an opportunity to come in here and compete right away. I think Trey and Jacob, Josh, they know they've got a little developing to do, whether it's just playing more, whether it's physically, whatever it is, they need to get in here and just learn the offense, learn what's going on, get bigger, get stronger, get -- you know, Josh Myers, it took him three years to get on the field. There's nothing wrong with that as an offensive lineman. And sometimes that's the best way to go about it.
But yeah, like you said, there's a nice combination there. Having those Ohio guys here who are loyal, they're going to put years into the program, they're going to develop, they want to get their degree here, they're Buckeyes, that means a lot. You need to have that in the program, and these are great guys. You talk about Jacob James and what he did at Elder this year and his family are great people. So we're super excited.
Q. Ty Hamilton is the only local kid here. What do you like about him? Is he one of those developmental guys, or what do you like about him?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, going into this year, Ty had some stuff going on but nothing huge. When you look at what DaVon did, first off, that's kind of the model. But Larry Johnson saw something in him in camp this year that he really liked and then all of a sudden he had a great year. He was kind of terrorizing every team he played. Played big, played strong, and I think he's got a chance to be really good. I think he probably has a chance to have a bigger impact early on in the career than we maybe thought going into the season.
Between he and DaVon, they really had great seasons.
Q. How similar is he to DaVon?
RYAN DAY: I think he's different. I think DaVon is a little bit bigger and thicker. Ty is a little bit more quicker, maybe a little bit more explosive. But I'm sure if you asked them, they would fight over both of those things.
Q. Just having been through the whole cycle for the first time, what was there about the process that you could not have anticipated until you went through it?
RYAN DAY: I mean, I think -- I don't think there was anything that I wasn't ready for. It's just the time and it's building relationships and being honest. That's the biggest thing. It's not about getting a sale. I was around a coach one time where you put a book on your desk and it was about how to close a sale. That's not what recruiting is. It's about building a vision and letting them know what your program is and what you're going to do for their sons, building that relationships, and then treat them the way they're recruited. That's what it comes down to. When you're honest and you're real with them, then obviously it translates better for when they get here. It's not about getting them to sign, it's about making sure they're successful when they're here. So we just went with that, trusted it, and it went well.
Q. During CJ Stroud's announcement he was saying that after the opening he played well at the opening there, played with other Ohio State commits and they reported back to you that this guy's leadership is good. Was that when he got on you guys' radar?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, so like you said, we ask a lot of people about a lot of people. We got a lot of great feedback on CJ. Yeah, up until then, he was kind of an unknown. We were looking at a lot of different quarterbacks out there and trying to figure out what was the right fit in the room with Jack, and so the more we learned about CJ and certainly the senior year that he had, it goes to show you how talented he is. I think those guys are going to get along great. They're going to compete. They're both going to get developed and let them fight it out. But it wasn't like we just flippantly made this decision. There was a lot of conversation about what was the right fit in that room, and we asked some of the players what CJ was like and we got a lot of great feedback.
Q. Of all that feedback, what do you think was the biggest thing they told you?
RYAN DAY: As a person, his communication, his leadership. He just handles himself the right way. He looks you in the eye, he shakes your hand. I think you're talking about somebody who was raised the right way and he's got a lot of respect and makes great decisions.
Q. Speaking of that, I would think Ryan Day, New Hampshire star quarterback, would be the start of this, but what is the prototype, the template you have in your mind as you're looking at quarterbacks now? Is it just wide open, and if this guy is a great player and a great person, I'll make him fit? How do you approach that now?
RYAN DAY: The first thing I think you look for is an extraordinary quality. That's what you want. And then you can tailor the offense based on what that quality is, and hopefully you can find two or three, and if you have, you probably have a great one, and that's what we look for. There's a lot that goes into it. There's certainly the aptitude of being able to handle information, see the field, accuracy, athletic ability, size, ability to handle adversity, family situation, what's it going to be like when they're not named the starter? Are their parents going to come in and ask to transfer right away? There's a lot of things that go into play. We do the best we can to make that decision and go from there.
Q. Do you actually ask like Jack and CJ, hey, give us a two-year commitment? Does that even come up with the transfer portal situation as it is? Do you ask for some kind of tacit commitment --
RYAN DAY: No, what we tell them is that we expect them to be here and graduate. That's what we expect. In this day and age, I know that the transfer portal is in there, but that's not even a conversation. That's not even something we bring up. It's about coming in here, competing, winning a job and getting your degree and going on to do great things. That's it, because we know that -- everybody knows they're going to have to compete, and the only thing I can guarantee is that there's going to be two or three other guys in the room, really good players because they're getting recruited by Ohio State, that they're going to have to compete against.
If you believe in the system, if you believe in what goes on, you look at what J.T. and Cardale and Braxton did, you look at Joe got his degree from here. He fought it out and it was hard, but he got his degree and things are going good for him and it went good for Dwayne, and so if you just hang in there and you work through it, good things are going to happen to you, and they'll happen to these guys, as well.
Q. K.J. Hill was a signing commitment way back when. Is he an example of development that this program can bring along? Do you use him as an example? Do you understand what I'm saying?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I do. Again, I wasn't here when he first got here, but K.J. has just had production throughout his career since I've been here. He's been clutch. He's been very, very productive, and I think he's a great example of that, yeah. If you look at the guys, and he's not the only one who have been in the program for four and five years, you see a high level of development, and that's kind of what I was getting at with the defensive backs. If you're here and you're competing -- like Jonah Jackson is a great example of that. Jonah Jackson comes in and competes against DaVon Hamilton, he's blocking Chase Young every day for the last year. Guess what: He's a first-team all-Big Ten player. Why? There's a lot of reasons that come into it, but one of them is you're going against great players every day, and that's the same thing at every other position.
Q. Would you have room if another guy or two wants to be a Buckeye?
RYAN DAY: We might be able to make some room. (Laughter.)
Q. Overall you're going to have some guys leave for the NFL. Just overall on numbers, I know it's always fluid, but how are you overall looking ahead?
RYAN DAY: Well, we're kind of right at the number right now, but there's some wiggle room in there.
Q. I forgot to ask about Dawand Jones on Monday, so I'm going to make it a recruiting question. A guy like that, a year ago he's maybe a raw guy with some tools. What have you thought of his development this year? And are you sometimes intrigued by recruits like that who maybe aren't as polished but you think, man, we might be able to do something with this guy?
RYAN DAY: I just talked about it today, walking on the field, that we didn't -- Enokk Vimahi and Dawand Jones were not really even much on our board all that much at this point last year and then we went out and found those guys. Enokk was pretty heavily recruited, but Dawand really wasn't. He kind of came on the scene late. To see the way those guys have developed, those guys are really good players, I mean, really good players. They work hard. They're great kids. Stud has done a great job of -- they've gotten a lot of work this year. Typically young offensive linemen don't get as much work, game experience. These guys played, and again, when you're on the scout team going against these guys, Jashon Cornell and Coop and those guys every day, you're just getting better, and I think they've done a great job. Both those guys came in here in the summer and it's December. So what, in seven months, they've come a long way.
Q. You told the story a couple years ago you're in California watching Jack Tuttle and come across Chris Olave. You have two Arizona kids, two California kids, a Washington kid in this class. You were involved with a lot of other guys in that area of the country. Why was Ohio State on the West Coast of this class?
RYAN DAY: You know, I think it's more of just there were really good players out there, and when we went out there and you make those calls and you go out there and visit those guys in the spring or last winter, there's interest there. We played in that Rose Bowl, I don't know if that had something to do with it, just being out that way, but there was just an interest there, and we followed up with it, and we fell in love with these guys. I mean, Lathan Ransom is going to be as good a safety as we've had here in a long time. He and his family are unbelievable people. They believed in this place, they believed in what we're doing, and I'm so excited he's part of this thing.
Again, whether he's from Arizona or Kentucky or wherever, it doesn't matter. This is a guy who wants to be at Ohio State. He's a great student, great person, has a chance to be a really good player. He's only 17 years old.
Yeah, I don't know what it is nowadays. Again, I think that maybe the world has gotten a little smaller and guys are less inclined to stay closer to home. They're okay with going a little bit further away to play, and so because of that, I feel strong, and I think when you look at our locker room, it's not -- there's a lot of Ohio guys here, a lot of Midwest guys, but like you said, there's some guys like Chris and Wyatt and different people from throughout the country where there is that support system in place when they get here -- again, Enokk is from Hawai'i, there's different people throughout the country, guys from Texas, J.K., Jeff, Barron, those guys, they kind of take them in and say, listen, you're going to be homesick a little bit but it's okay. The Ohio guys are the foundation of this program. But they're the ones that kind of set the whole pace of this program, and they're willing to bring guys in. They don't get territorial.
Again, I don't know if it's like that in every program, but it's a really good culture here.
Q. You've talked several times today about getting guys their degrees. As you looked at your commitment list the other day, I think 11 of your 22 starters for your bowl game will be Ohio State graduates. I know your kids come here hoping to get to the National Football League and plenty of them will, but is this also part of the recruiting pitch, just watch our game, this guys is a graduate, that guy is a graduate? What do you say about that and the support those guys have gotten here?
RYAN DAY: I'm really proud of that, and I think there is for people who don't know Ohio State, sometimes they think because we play at such a high level of football, there's a little bit of that factory tag, and then the closer they get to the program, they realize that's nothing to be the case. When you look at the guys who are on our team, when you look at how veteran we are, I think that goes to show you why the season we've had, is because we have veteran guys, we have graduates out there, we have some senior laden -- we have a senior-laden team. That matters. And I think the more veteran you can be, the better.
And the more you can develop these guys and get them into their fourth and fifth year, the better it's going to be, and some of these guys -- a lot of these guys are working on their Masters. And the way that it's organized for these guys where they can get their Masters paid for and come back and finish it, it's as good as there is anywhere in the country. When you combine all that together with competing for National Championships, it makes it very, very attractive for recruits.
Q. We talked to you Monday, you've now had a couple more days of practice to prepare and you're sending everybody away to go home for a few days. What have you learned about this team the last two days? Are you happy with the preparation? Are you -- do you feel like you've got everything you need to get accomplished?
RYAN DAY: Well, it's very different because we practiced five of the last six days, and typically you have different phases as you get ready for bowl practice, but this was very different. We had three really good days of practice, had a good day of practice today, but they need to go home for three days and get away, and then meet us in Arizona on Sunday and then have a great week of practice. It's a long season, and it's almost like having just a couple of bye weeks getting ready for a game. It's not really like getting ready for a bowl game in my opinion.
I think these three days are going to be critical for them to get home. It's only three days; we're king of making it sound like as coaches that they're going away for a week. They get away from us for a few days, it seems like a long time, but they get home with their families, they deserve it, they need to get some rest and then see us in Arizona.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports