Ohio State Buckeyes: Day satisfied with ‘23 class so far, says more work to do

Credit: Nick Wass

Credit: Nick Wass

COLUMBUS — Ohio State football coach Ryan Day spent about half his press conference Wednesday talking about players he was able to add to his program.

The other half was about name, image and likeness payments that have upended college recruiting over the past year or so.

Explore5 things to know about Ohio State's class prior to signing day

Ohio State had already received 19 letters of intent by 1 p.m., and the class was among the national top 10 according to 247Sports Composite rankings.

Whether it could have been better if not for a few prospects being lured elsewhere by offers of payment for NIL was not a question Day wanted to take on directly.

“That’s hard to say,” Day replied when asked how many players chose another school specifically because of NIL offers.

“It’s become part of the conversation for sure, but I think for me these 19 guys that have signed right now deserve the recognition on a day like today because it’s a great group. And I think when you look at the quality of the people that we’re bringing in, I think that’s the focus right now. I think it has to be for us. It’s about not so much maybe who we don’t get but who we are bringing into the program. You know what I mean? So I’m proud of our guys, and they’re gonna have unbelievable opportunities here at Ohio State for sure.”

While NCAA rules were amended last year to pave the way for players to do endorsements and otherwise be compensated for off-field activities, such offers are not supposed to be made to unsigned recruits or extended as direct play to play.

However, with open questions about how much the NCAA’s enforcement staff wants to — or perhaps even legally can — go after programs who do anyway (and third parties sometimes acting with or without a school’s blessing or even knowledge), a perception has been created that the playing field may not be level as respect for the rules varies from place to place.

“There’s a lot of hearsay out there and a lot of people talking about all kinds of different things, and that can be that can be frustrating, but we’re just going to focus on our guys right now,” Day said.

Signing day included good news and bad for the Buckeyes.

While five-star defensive end Matayo Uiagalelei of St. John Bosco Prep in California chose Oregon over Ohio State and long-time cornerback commit Kayin Lee of Ellenwood, Ga., flipped to Auburn, Ohio State picked up a commitment from Joshua Mickens, the No. 2-rated prospect in the state of Indiana.

Any win on signing day is nice, but Mickens’ decision was notable because he is the No. 20 defensive end in the country and therefore fills a positional need.

Offensive line was among the priorities going into the recruiting cycle, and new offensive line coach Justin Frye delivered four players, including three from Ohio.

Day said Joshua Padilla of Wayne projects at center, Austin Siereveld of Lakota East will start his career at guard and Findlay’s Luke Montgomery could play any spot on the line.

They will be joined in Columbus by three-star tackle prospect Miles Walker of Connecticut.

“I thought Justin did an excellent job,” Day said. “I really think all of them have an ability to make an impact right away.”

Lakota West safety Malik Hartford, the state’s No. 2 recruit behind Montgomery, also signed with the Buckeyes.

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