Ohio State’s Ryan Day looking forward to important week

“Now it’s football,” Ohio State football head coach Ryan Day said after his team put on pads for the first time in the preseason Wednesday.

After the Buckeyes’ fifth preseason practice, Day called the upcoming week a defining one and shared a few thoughts on some important position battles.

He also shared his view on the upcoming retirement of athletics director Gene Smith.

1. The offensive tackle battle is competitive and crowded.

Day said Josh Fryar, Tegra Tshabola, Josh Simmons (who is now going by Jimmy), Luke Montgomery and Zen Michalski are all still in the running for the two open spots on the outside of the OSU offensive line.

Fryar was the No. 1 left tackle for most of the spring, but Day said everyone is rotating at each spot as the coaches try to determine a pecking order.

“We always have to figure what the best five is and then where their best position will be,” Day said. “We’ve had guys that have swung before. You guys know that. And some guys it’s easier than others.”

2. He continues to like what he sees from the secondary.

A healthy Jordan Hancock and newcomers Davison Igbinosun and Lorenzo Styles Jr. have created a competitive situation at cornerback, a position that went from strength to weakness over the past four seasons.

With Denzel Burke coming back for a third season as a starter and Lakota West graduate Jyair Brown also in the mix, coach Tim Walton has plenty of options to fill out his depth chart.

“It’s very, very competitive, not only because you have competitive personalities in the room, but you also have more mature guys in the room, and you have depth where there’s competition for the positions,” Day said.

3. Center remains open, too.

Redshirt freshman Carson Hinzman has at times looked like the man to beat, but Day indicated Louisiana Monroe transfer Victor Cutler is pushing him early in camp while Jakob James remains in the mix as well.

“I think a full offseason or not in our program, I think (Cutler) has changed his body,” Day said. “I think he understands what we’re trying to do now and the resources that we have here, so he’s a different-looking body than he was in the spring.”

4. Day hopes to have more clarity on many positions in a week.

That includes quarterback, where Kyle McCord and Devin Brown are still vying to replace C.J. Stroud.

“It’s a good battle, and it’s back and forth for sure,” Day said. “They know this week is important to them. The scrimmage on Saturday will be important, and they’re constantly putting up numbers on a daily basis. And so we’ll compare the statistics but there’s also the eyeball test and they’re both competing at a high level.”

5. He is grateful for Smith and his wife Sheila’s impact on his life and the OSU athletics department as a whole.

Smith changed Day’s life when he opted to promote him from offensive coordinator to replace Meyer rather than hold a national search for a new head coach in December 2018, and the two have developed a close relationship.

“I think for me it was that he believed in me as a person, and that was a big decision,” Day said. “And that’s why I’m so grateful for him, but he obviously saw something, and that instilled confidence in me to do my job.”

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