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Football: Ryan Day finds trust in 2019 recruiting class

Ohio State head-coach-in-waiting Ryan Day answers questions from the media during a press conference at the Fawcett Center on Dec. 4. Credit: Amal Saeed

The recruitment of five-star defensive end Zach Harrison came down to the last minute for Ryan Day and Ohio State.

For Day, Harrison was a good representation of what the recruiting process has been like for him transitioning into the head coaching role after Urban Meyer announced that he would retire after the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

“We had a home visit last week, was really important to sit down in the home and talk to the family about the direction of the program and having some communication on just some of the leadership changes that comes with the change of the head coach,” Day said.  

This was a conversation Day had with many recruits in this two-week span following Meyer’s announcement, a needed conversation that the state of the program, despite the transition of leadership, was very strong and would be consistent.

For many, the decision on whether to choose to come to Ohio State was much simpler. Day said the decision comes down to families trusting that their son would be taken care of.

Harrison trusted Day. So did 14 other recruits, giving Ohio State the No. 3 2019 recruiting class in the Big Ten and No. 12 in the nation, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

Day knew from the moment Meyer handed him the reins of Ohio State recruiting that it would be a difficult process in securing the 2019 class during the period of transition, which he started immediately after the Big Ten Championship.

Day had connected with many of the of the 2019 recruits in August and through the first three games of the season when he was named the acting head coach during Meyer’s suspension. He said this helped him have a closeness with the families.

In the two-week span, what he considered to be a whirlwind, Day said it took a level of trust for the families to commit to a program with a brand new head coach.

“I think there was some faith right here because I’ve only been on the job here really for a couple of weeks,” Day said. “When you connect with people, you look them in the eye and you sit in their homes, there’s a connection to be made there, I thought that happened.”

But many of the families had the same types of questions, revolving around the same topic: replacing Meyer and what Day’s vision and direction for the Ohio State football program would be.

“We think we have the most comprehensive program from A to Z in the country. The infrastructure is here and that the plan is not to change that,” Day said. “There’s a reason why there’s been so much success here in the past and we want to keep that going.”

Day said even though there will be a change at the head coaching position, providing a change in personality and demeanor, the infrastructure would stay in place, the “Plan to win,” as Meyer coined, would remain consistent.

This is what brought Harrison to Ohio State, what kept five-star wide receiver Garrett Wilson and five-star center Harry Miller committed.

While the Buckeyes have an expectation for the quality of player and person they recruit, the storyline for the 2018 early signing period revolved around the expectation that the recruits have in Ohio State, despite the off-the-field storylines the program went through.

And for those that remained with Ohio State through the firing of former wide receivers coach Zach Smith, the suspension of Meyer, Meyer’s retirement and Day’s promotion, the new and acting head coach is very grateful.

“When you look at who these kids are in the last seven months, their loyalty, it’s amazing,” Day said. “What happened in August and then the coaching change down the stretch, these kids stuck with us, that means a lot to us. And we are not going to forget that moving forward.”

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