When highly touted high school recruits are introduced as freshmen in front of the Ohio State football team, head coach Ryan Day said veteran players may ask how many recruiting stars they have.
But as soon as they spit out an answer, Day said the newcomers are met with a loud chorus of “We don’t care!”
Though Day said stars don’t matter once a player becomes a Buckeye, top-flight national recruits may face tougher expectations than others, and Day gave updates on the progression of young Ohio State stars-in-the-making after the fourth fall practice.
Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Nicholas Petit-Frere and freshman wide receiver Garrett Wilson count 10 stars between them, as both were top 20 national recruits, but despite positive reviews from Day, neither are locked in for a starting position.
“Nicholas put on 20 pounds,” Day said. “He’s improved immensely; he’s been developed. He’s doing a really good job. I’m really proud of where he’s at, and I think he’s going to really help us this year. He’s battling hard to be a starter right now.”
Even with the additional 20 pounds, the 6-foot-5, 295-pound Petit-Frere still gives up 10 pounds to competing tackles like senior Joshua Alabi, 15 pounds to junior Thayer Munford, and 20 to senior Branden Bowen.
Wilson was the second highest rated recruit in the Buckeyes’ 2018 class and the No. 1 wide receiver in the nation. After a highlight reel 19-yard touchdown grab in the 2019 Spring Game, fans are eager to see if Wilson will make an immediate impact on the field.
That impact will have to be made coming off of the bench, as Day said Wilson is fighting for a backup spot, though he noted that a backup receiver at Ohio State will still see plenty of in-game action.
As the No. 3 and No. 4 wideouts in 2018, K.J. Hill and Johnnie Dixon combined for 112 receptions,1,554 yards and 14 touchdowns through the air, which means Wilson will have a chance to make up for the Buckeyes losing three of their top four receiving yard leaders from a season ago.
“The good thing for us is we had him in spring, so we saw him flash,” Day said. “He does have a lot of ability. Because he has so much talent, he has to learn how to develop discipline and skill.”
Day said another five-star freshman, offensive lineman Harry Miller, has the ability to win the backup center spot behind sophomore Josh Myers, who will be a first-year starter.
Miller ran drills with the first and second string linemen in Tuesday’s practice while other true freshmen on the offensive line spent time in a separate group.
On the other side of the ball, Day said sophomore safety Josh Proctor had two of the defense’s four interceptions during 11-on-11 run throughs.
A top 100, four-star recruit in his own right, Proctor played in nine games as a true freshman and made just one tackle and no interceptions. Day said the production from Proctor in Tuesday’s practice was “really good to see.”
While the Ohio State players may not care much for the high school recruiting accolades of their teammates, Day described a team Tuesday that seems to be gelling regardless.
“They like each other,” Day said. “There’s a chemistry. They like being around each other — you can just tell.”