Gunnar Hoak is no camp arm. The Kentucky transfer who grew up in the Columbus suburbs was brought in to compete with Justin Fields, who transferred from Georgia in January and battled redshirt freshman Matthew Baldwin for the job in spring ball.
When Baldwin left the program in April, Fields became the presumed starter — but maybe that’s just the view from the outside.
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"Justin got here in February, and he did not win the job, but that wasn’t part of the spring,” Day said. “The spring was just to try to get some 15 practices under our belt, and learn the offense, but now in the preseason is where the real competition goes.
“So he’s going to have a great opportunity. He’s got to learn in short order. He’s a little bit behind in terms of the couple months that we had in the spring, he wasn’t here. But he’s also really, really sharp, I think he’ll pick it up quick, and then let the competition begin in August.
Georgia transfer is the favorite to be Buckeyes starter this fall.
2. Day is satisfied with the way the offensive line looks.
Ohio State entered the offseason needing to replace 80 percent of the starting lineup and facing a serious depth issue up front.
As of June, the situation seems much more stable in both regards thanks to the return of Thayer Munford from injury and the addition of three freshmen and senior grad transfer Jonah Jackson.
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“Thayer Munford is really looking strong right now and then when you when you kind of roll them all out there we have some guys who have a chance to be really good, and you know they're all going to be kind of battling for spots,” Day said. “We lost four guys right there, but then there's some guys who have some experience who've been in the program a little bit, some other guys who have some playing experience in there, so it's gonna be a great competition, but I think it can be a strength for us.
“Obviously the more they play, the more they gel in the preseason and then in September will be important, but a talented group.”
Miamisburg native is in line to be the Buckeyes starting center this fall
3. He’s hoping for a productive month of recruiting.
Talent acquisition is a year-round effort for college coaches, but June is a particularly important month.
Not only is that when Ohio State holds its various camps to work out potential players but now it is a time when prospects heading into their senior seasons can take official visits.
“Yeah, this month is a big month for us,” Day said. “So you know there were a couple of positions of need on offense, and we're working through all those, but it's really what we're gonna be at the end of June. That's when I think we'll have a better handle on the whole class.”
4. He is happy with the way the roster is holding together.
Roster attrition is part of life in college football, but so far Ohio State's roster has been relatively stable since Day replaced Urban Meyer.
Not counting NFL draft early entries, five scholarship players have left the program since the beginning of January, less than half as many departed in the previous offseason and four fewer than the year before that.
That’s especially notable given how many departures generally accompany a coaching change and with multiple players making headlines on a daily basis for entering the new NCAA transfer portal.
“I'm very, very proud of what we've done here,” Day said. “When you look at our numbers, I would (expect they are as) good if not better than everybody else in the country in terms of this this situation you're talking about. I think our culture is really, really good. I think the communication is good. I think our families and their parents and the type of kids that we're recruiting all matter to that.”
5. Day isn’t worried about what bad things might happen this fall.
Any hiring of a first-time head coach is going to bring a certain amount of unknown as compared to bringing in a known figure.
For example, Meyer had a record of destroying his rivals before being hired at Ohio State, so there was reason to be confident he would continue to do so. (He did.)
Day has heard the questions about how he will handle some of the biggest challenges for any OSU coach, but he isn’t sweating it.
“People ask me, ‘What if you don't beat the team up north? What if you don't win the Big Ten championship or a national championship?’ and I always come back with, 'Well, what if I do?' And that's the mentality I've always had.”