With Ohio State set to open fall camp bright and early Wednesday morning, head coach Ryan Day briefly met with the media this afternoon to discuss his expectations for the preseason.
“(We’re) excited to get these guys back out on the field,” Day said. “We certainly have a lot of young players who haven’t played a lot of football. They’ve had a really good 11 weeks leading up to tomorrow, and then we have some older guys that need to get game ready here in a hurry. We’re excited to get back on our routine and get back to work.”
The biggest question on everyone’s mind is undoubtedly the looming quarterback competition between redshirt freshmen C.J. Stroud and Jack Miller and true freshman Kyle McCord, a battle that added another interesting layer on Monday when Southlake (Texas) Carroll five-star signal-caller Quinn Ewers announced that he will reclassify from the class of 2022 and join the Buckeyes in the coming weeks.
Day was unable to discuss Ewers specifically, as he remains a high school prospect until some final details are worked out. He does, however, welcome the challenge of managing a roster with four quarterbacks that have freshman eligibility amid the ever-changing college football landscape.
“The easy thing to do is to get super concerned and start to panic and throw your hands up and get frustrated or you can embrace it. And we’re going to embrace it,” Day said. “We obviously have a lot to sell right now, recruiting is going very, very well. But they have to develop when they’re here, they have to play when they’re here and we have to continue to develop this culture so we understand it’s about us. It’s not just about one singular person at any one moment.
“With the one-time transfer and name, image and likeness, those things are geared more toward the individual than they are the unit and the team. We have to continually work on that and focus on the culture. I know we have a great university and a great culture and we keep putting one foot in front of the other, I think we’ll come out of this thing in a great position.”
Of course, only one quarterback can start at a time and it is likely the program will see attrition at the position as a result. That's just the nature of the beast. But Day believes Ohio State will need all four to get repetitions and be ready when their number is called if the Buckeyes are going to make it back to the College Football Playoff for the third year in a row – and perhaps win the whole thing.
“When you think about it right now, it’s a long journey all the way to January of next year,” Day said. “That’s really the focus of right now is for these guys to realize that in order for us to win championships and to get to where we need to get to, that room has to be strong and they have to pull for each other. That’s just the way it’s going to go.
“They’ve all put themselves in a great position and really the way we look at it is this is practice No. 16 starting tomorrow. There’s already been 15 practices (in the spring) leading up to now, and then they’re going to continue to compete, which they’ve done. They’ve competed hard over the last 11 weeks and I’m really proud with where they’re at physically. I’m proud of where they’re at in terms of understanding the offense.
“Now we’ve got to see how we got execute the next couple of days and how we get going. But there’s been a lot of good work and they are going to continue to compete. They came to Ohio State for a reason and that was to compete. I’m excited to see what those guys are up to in terms of the next couple of days as they get those reps and we get an idea of where it’s at, and then we’ll kind of get ourselves into camp and figure out where it goes from there.
“We’re going to need all of them. We’re going to need that entire room to be strong. The last time they won a national championship around here, it took several guys to go win it. I know that’s probably going to be the case this year.”
Day previously said he would like to name a starter, if not have one start to separate himself from the others, by the second week of camp. That might make it difficult for Ewers to come in, learn the playbook and win the job outright, but Stroud, Miller and McCord all have an opportunity to make their case for the job starting tomorrow.
“I think the first thing you look at is how they lead,” Day said. “At the end of the day, the job is to lead 10 men on the field, however you do that. There are different styles and shapes, when you think about J.T. (Barrett), you think about Dwayne (Haskins), you think about Justin (Fields) and the guys that came before I got here, they all had different shapes and sizes, different ability. But they all had the ability to lead a team and 10 guys down to score, that’s the No. 1 thing.
“Great decision-making is critically important, too. We’re going to have a really good team around the quarterback position. We need the room to make great decisions. We need to make the routine plays routinely and take care of the football. Going on the road at Minnesota is going to be a tough environment for us.”
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