Ohio State signing day: 2 QBs, 6 O-linemen and 1 happy coach

Ohio State football coach Ryan Day had a lot to smile about when he met reporters on National Signing Day.

Not only had he just signed a recruiting class ranked No. 3 at the time in the 247Sports Composite, he did so despite being in his first year as a college head coach.

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The Buckeyes overcame a major staff loss at the end of the cycle, too, but still came out with the best class in the Big Ten by a wide margin.

Here are five takeaways:

1. Ohio State signed two quarterbacks for the first time in five years.

C.J. Stroud, a four-star prospect from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., announced shortly after noon he had chosen Ohio State after being pursued by Georgia and others.

With long-time commit Jack Miller of Scottsdale, Ariz., already in the fold, that gave the Buckeyes a pair of signal-callers in the same class for the first time since they signed Joe Burrow and Torrence Gibson in 2015.

Day said the decision to do so was hard but necessary after the past year saw Dwayne Haskins go pro early and Tate Martell and Matthew Baldwin both transfer.

“This was not something we took lightly,” Day said of signing two quarterbacks.

“We felt like we had to try to get more depth in that room. Jack and CJ both brings different things to the table. Jack is somebody that has been committed all along. He was loyal from the get-go. I watched him throw when he was 16-years-old, and I saw something in him, and he never wavered, either. And I think he’s got a chance to be a really good player. And then CJ is somebody who came on the scene a little bit later, and I think he has a high ceiling, as well.”

2. The Buckeyes signing two quarterbacks is somewhat rare in the past 20 years, but the results have been interesting when they have. 

Craig Krenzel, who signed along with Scott McMullen in 1999, led Ohio State to the 2002 national championship.

Troy Smith, the last member of a ballyhooed 2002 recruiting class under Jim Tressel and overshadowed by Justin Zwick on signing day, ultimately won the starting job, a pair of Big Ten championships and the Heisman Trophy.

In 2011, Wayne High School star Braxton Miller headlined Ohio State’s class, but Tressel opted to add Cardale Jones as a grayshirt late in the cycle. Miller was a two-time Big Ten MVP while Jones ultimately quarterbacked Ohio State to victory in the first College Football Playoff after Miller and successor J.T. Barrett suffered season-ending injuries in the 2014 season.

Burrow and Gibson both left Ohio State before using up their eligibility, but Burrow won the Heisman Trophy last week after a record-setting regular season at LSU.

“If you believe in the system, if you believe in what goes on, you look at what J.T. and Cardale and Braxton did, you look at Joe got his degree from here,” Day said. “He fought it out and it was hard, but he got his degree and things are going good for him, and it went good for Dwayne, and so if you just hang in there and you work through it, good things are going to happen to you, and they’ll happen to these guys, as well.”

3. Eight of the prospects are from Ohio.

That is the highest number of in-state recruits since the 2016 class included 10, and Day reiterated how important the Buckeye State is in the Buckeyes’ recruiting.

“Having those Ohio guys here who are loyal, they’re going to put years into the program, they’re going to develop, they want to get their degree here, they’re Buckeyes, that means a lot,” he said. “You need to have that in the program.”

4. Ohio State remains a national name in recruiting, though.

Day might not have the rockstar status predecessor Urban Meyer enjoyed when he arrived in Columbus with a pair of national championships on his resume seven years ago, but he was still able to find highly regarded prospects in 13 different states who wanted to be Buckeyes.

“I think that the world has gotten smaller,” Day said. “I think with the internet, with just the way the world is now, no matter where you go and they see that block ‘O’, it’s unbelievable, it doesn’t matter. When we went out to see Enokk Vimahi (last year), there were people in Hawaii that recognized me right away, and that was before I had coached a game.”

>>READ MORE: How Day can beef up in-state recruiting without sacrificing nationally

“I think the brand of Buckeye Nation is throughout the country, and I think people feel that. I think they feel nowadays kids are more inclined to get on a plane and come to school in Ohio. I think that’s changed a little bit, maybe more than 20 years ago when it was a little bit more regional based I would say.”

5. He called the offensive line class a home run.

Ohio State needed a large class of linemen to keep numbers up, and coach Greg Studrawa helped deliver just that with a group that includes both highly regarded recruits (five-star tackle Paris Johnson Jr. of Cincinnati Princeton and four-star interior lineman Luke Wypler of Montvale, N.J.) and developmental prospects (three-stars Josh Fryar of Beech Grove, Ind., Grant Toutant of Warren, Mich., Jakob James of Cincinnati Elder and Trey Leroux of Norwalk, Ohio).

“I think it’s a great mix,” Day said. “I think you’re looking at guys like Paris and Luke who have an opportunity to come in here and compete right away. I think Trey and Jacob, Josh, they know they’ve got a little developing to do, whether it’s just playing more, whether it’s physically, whatever it is, they need to get in here and just learn the offense, learn what’s going on, get bigger, get stronger.”

College Football Semifinal (Fiesta Bowl)

Saturday, Dec. 28

Ohio State vs. Clemson, 8 p.m., ESPN, 1410

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