Ryan Day took the Ohio State head coaching job from Urban Meyer knowing full well there is no substitute for winning when it comes to leading the Buckeyes.
Succeeding with players from Ohio isn’t an absolute necessity, but it sure is nice in a state that takes football as seriously or more than any other.
And as an assistant on Meyer’s staff the past three years, Day surely became aware trying to maximize signing the best talent available (i. e., players from across the country interested in Ohio State) and keeping local pipelines open is a tricky balancing act.
To that end, the biggest obstacle Meyer faced was getting comfortable enough with an in-state prospect to make a scholarship offer as early as some programs from elsewhere were.
Waiting too long to make that call appears to cost him at least a player or two annually, and that seems to be something Day intends to prevent.
According to 247Sports.com, five members of the 2021 class (current sophomores) already have verbal offers from Ohio State: receivers Jayden Ballard of Massillon Washington and Lorenzo Styles Jr. of Pickerington Central, offensive lineman Ben Christman of Richfield Revere and defensive linemen Najee Story of Solon and Jack Sawyer of Pickerington North.
By comparison, only seven offers are reportedly out for current juniors: running backs Jutahn McClain of Fairfield and Michael Drennan II of Dublin Coffman, tight end Caden Clark of Akron Hoban, offensive linemen Parris Johnson II of Cincinnati St. Xavier and Jakob James of Cincinnati Elder, defensive lineman Darrion Henry of Cincinnati Princeton and linebacker DeaMonte Trayanum of Akron Hoban.
Prior to that, Ohio State sent out 13 in-state offers in 2019, 10 in 2018 and nine in 2017.
When speaking about wrapping up the 2019 class on Feb. 6, Day acknowledged the uptick in early offers was both a result of the level of talent available in the sophomore class and a desire to get the ball rolling with some of those prospects earlier.
“There are great players in the state of Ohio,” Day said. “We’re out there being aggressive and going after them."
While Clark has verbally committed to Alabama, Johnson and James are both Ohio State verbal commitments for 2020.
With offensive line depth being a priority in this class, getting those two early commitments for next year is a double-win for Day, who can’t speak about specific recruits on the record until they sign.
"When I was here for the first signing day (in December), I think the question was asked about Ohio offensive linemen,” he said. “I said that was going to be an emphasis, and it is. We're all over that. I mean, that's from when we wake up in the morning till we go to bed at night. That's not going to change.”