Quick hitters from Ryan Day pre-spring game press conference

IMG_7408by:Andy Backstrom04/10/24


COLUMBUS — Ohio State head coach Ryan Day met with the media ahead of the Buckeyes’ 2024 spring game. Lettermen Row has a rundown of what he said.

What Day said Wednesday…

+ “It was an absolute slam dunk for us,” Day said of the Carlos Locklyn running backs coach hire. Day said Locklyn’s story and background — including a career in law enforcement — is captivating. Day said the search for a new running backs coach was thorough and patient. The search included at least 12 candidates, and they pared it down to four or five, but Locklyn stuck out because of his overall mentality, his approach and his understanding of football.

+ Day said most of the Ohio State running backs knew Locklyn from their recruiting days. When they heard that he was one of the finalists, you could see in their eyes they were excited about it, Day said. He noted that that reaction was one of the things that put Locklyn over the top.

+ Day was asked what he needs to see from the O-Line down the stretch of spring ball. He said individual improvement is key, and they need to continue to see that. He said the biggest thing is the right side, including the right guard position, where they’ve tried not only Luke Montgomery but also Carson Hinzman and Seth McLaughlin. “Both tackles have really improved. It’s noticeable,” said Day, who emphasized the leadership of left guard Donovan Jackson is prevalent.

+ When asked about the tackles, he said you’re just seeing those guys in better position against the edge rushers. They’re just more consistent in blocking. Josh Fryar is moving his feet quicker, and he’s bending better. His body change — he slimmed down this offseason — is a factor in that. Josh Simmons has a greater understanding of the offense and has more experience.

+ Day was asked about Julian Sayin losing his black stripe nine practices in. “They know, they see it,” Day said of his team knowing Sayin was making a lot of throws in big spots, even against the ones. “The play speaks for itself,” Day added. He said Sayin has the respect of the team.

+ Day said Julian Sayin is “in the mix” for the starting quarterback job. Offensive coordinator Chip Kelly rolls the quarterbacks, including Sayin, with the first-team offense.

+ Day later noted that Sayin — listed at 6-foot-1, 203 pounds — has put on 15 pounds since arriving at Ohio State.

+ Day was asked if there’s anything he learned from last spring and the quarterback battle. He said he’s not sure he would do it any different: It was a battle, and it wasn’t clear cut until a couple games in. Saturday will be another barometer to see where guys are at.

+ Day said they are north of 50,000 tickets sold for the spring game. It will be a good opportunity for the quarterbacks to command the offense in that type of environment.

+ Day was asked about the transfer portal reopening on Monday. “It is crazy. It’s unique, but I feel like we have a team that’s come together for a common purpose,” Day said. He emphasized “the brotherhood,” and he said he doesn’t see a bunch of guys wanting to hit the portal. Day talked about the importance of depth next season with the potential for a 16- or 17-game season with a 12-team College Football Playoff. He even said the depth chart’s not as critical as it has been in years past because of that.

+ When asked about the spring game, Day said some of the veteran guys will be in a thud mode early on, but then when it’s offense vs. defense, it will be tackle. He gave the example of how someone like running back TreVeyon Henderson doesn’t need to get tackled Saturday.

+ When asked about running back Dallan Hayden reportedly entering the portal next week, Day said right now they are on track to be in a situation where they’ll be at five scholarship running backs, and they feel comfortable with that group. But if they feel like they need to add a sixth, they’ll do that.

+ Day was asked if he’s seen the growth he wanted to see from Will Howard the final two weeks of spring ball. “His experience is definitely showing,” Day said. His combination of extending plays with his feet and running as a quarterback stresses the defense. Day said Howard is in the building early and late, and the team sees that.

+ Day was asked about Devin Brown’s spring, too. “The big thing with him is just being as consistent as he possibly can,” said Day, who noted Brown definitely has the ability, and he continues to flash that. Day said Brown is probably the most comfortable in the room in terms of knowing the offense given that it’s his third year in the system.

+ Day was asked about starting a true freshman quarterback, in reference to Sayin. “He’s got to be ready to go” to play at Oregon, at Penn State, etc., Day explained. Because Ohio State is putting a greater emphasis on running the quarterback this year, it’s going to need guys. Sayin is not someone who wants his hand held, said Day, who’s been impressed with the first-year signal caller’s approach.

+ “We’re going to do whatever we can to win games,” Day said. He said it’s a priority to have 2-3 quarterbacks who can help them accomplish their goals. That might mean getting guys more reps in games so that they’re ready. He referenced Lincoln Kienholz being thrown into the fire in the Cotton Bowl, and he said they can’t be in that situation again this season.

+ Day said he’s excited to see James Peoples, Sam Williams-Dixon and TC Caffey in the spring game. It will be the first time those running backs are really tackled this spring, and he believes all three of them are capable of contributing, in addition to TreVeyon Henderson and Quinshon Judkins.

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