Ryan Day on Ohio State’s Rose Bowl opt-outs: ‘I love those guys’

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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VIDEO: Ryan Day, C.J. Stroud talk about arriving in California for the Rose Bowl

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Ohio State will be somewhat short-handed in the Rose Bowl against Utah.

After receiver Garrett Wilson announced he will not play Saturday and intends to enter the 2022 NFL Draft, head coach Ryan Day told reporters receiver Chris Olave, offensive lineman Nicholas Petit-Frere and defensive lineman Haskell Garrett won’t play either.

ExploreMichigan loss, fallout motivating Buckeyes for Rose Bowl

Wilson and Petit-Frere are juniors in eligibility who could have returned for another season, but they are also five-star recruits who have long been considered potential high draft picks.

Olave and Garrett are both seniors who many thought would go pro last year but chose to return for another season in Scarlet and Gray.

“I love those guys,” Day said Monday afternoon at a welcome event at Disneyland. “I certainly think this game is important for our team, and the guys playing in their last game want to finish with a victory in the Rose Bowl playing well, and the younger guys want an opportunity to get some momentum going into next year. That’s kind of what we’ve focused on. Each guy has to make the decision for that role, but I know there are still a bunch of guys who want to play really well in this game.”

Olave and Wilson combined to 135 catches for 1,994 yards and 25 touchdowns this season, but without them the cupboard is hardly bare.

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The head football coaches and select players from The Ohio State University Buckeyes and the Utah Utes appear in a festive cavalcade at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, Calif., Dec. 27, 2021. The teams made their first stop on the way to the 2022 Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One Venture X in Pasadena, Calif., with a traditional visit to the Disneyland Resort. (Christian Thompson/Disneyland Resort)

Credit: Richard Harbaugh/Disneyland Resort

The head football coaches and select players from The Ohio State University Buckeyes and the Utah Utes appear in a festive cavalcade at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, Calif., Dec. 27, 2021. The teams made their first stop on the way to the 2022 Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One Venture X in Pasadena, Calif., with a traditional visit to the Disneyland Resort. (Christian Thompson/Disneyland Resort)

Credit: Richard Harbaugh/Disneyland Resort

caption arrowCaption
The head football coaches and select players from The Ohio State University Buckeyes and the Utah Utes appear in a festive cavalcade at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, Calif., Dec. 27, 2021. The teams made their first stop on the way to the 2022 Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One Venture X in Pasadena, Calif., with a traditional visit to the Disneyland Resort. (Christian Thompson/Disneyland Resort)

Credit: Richard Harbaugh/Disneyland Resort

Credit: Richard Harbaugh/Disneyland Resort

Sophomore Jaxon Smith-Njigba is actually the team’s top receiver statistically, in part because Wilson missed a game and also because of the attention opposing teams put on trying to stop the veterans. Smith-Njigba has 1,259 yards on 80 catches this season and six touchdowns.

Sophomore Julian Fleming and highly-regarded freshmen Emeka Ogbuka and Marvin Harrison Jr. are likely to get much more playing time Saturday as a result of Olave and Wilson opting out.

“I’m really excited for their opportunity to come out and play,” quarterback C.J. Stroud told reporters at Disneyland.

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The head football coaches and select players from The Ohio State University Buckeyes and the Utah Utes pose for a photo with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland Park, in Anaheim, Calif., Dec. 27, 2021. From left to right: Bryson Shaw, C.J. Stroud, Ryan Day, Dawand Jones, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Britain Covey, Kyle Whittingham, Mika Tafua, Cameron Rising and Devin Lloyd. The teams made their first stop on the way to the 2022 Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One Venture X in Pasadena, Calif., with a traditional visit to the Disneyland Resort. (Christian Thompson/Disneyland Resort)

The head football coaches and select players from The Ohio State University Buckeyes and the Utah Utes pose for a photo with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland Park, in Anaheim, Calif., Dec. 27, 2021. From left to right: Bryson Shaw, C.J. Stroud, Ryan Day, Dawand Jones, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Britain Covey, Kyle Whittingham, Mika Tafua, Cameron Rising and Devin Lloyd. The teams made their first stop on the way to the 2022 Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One Venture X in Pasadena, Calif., with a traditional visit to the Disneyland Resort. (Christian Thompson/Disneyland Resort)

caption arrowCaption
The head football coaches and select players from The Ohio State University Buckeyes and the Utah Utes pose for a photo with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland Park, in Anaheim, Calif., Dec. 27, 2021. From left to right: Bryson Shaw, C.J. Stroud, Ryan Day, Dawand Jones, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Britain Covey, Kyle Whittingham, Mika Tafua, Cameron Rising and Devin Lloyd. The teams made their first stop on the way to the 2022 Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One Venture X in Pasadena, Calif., with a traditional visit to the Disneyland Resort. (Christian Thompson/Disneyland Resort)

Day said to look for Thayer Munford to start at left tackle for Petit-Frere with Matt Jones likely to join the starting lineup at guard.

Garrett, an all-American last season, was the team’s top defensive lineman when healthy this season. He had a team-leading seven tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks but saw his playing time and effectiveness limited in the second half of the season by unspecified injuries.

Veterans Antwuan Jackson, Taron Vincent and Jerron Cage along with youngsters Tyliek Williams and Ty Hamilton figure to be part of the rotation on the interior line without Garrett.

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Players opting out of bowl games to protect their NFL draft stock has become more prevalent in recent years, but Ohio State has not had to worry about it since Day became the head coach of the Buckeyes because they were in the College Football Playoff the last two seasons.

“Each guy — we had conversations, and I’m excited for the guys who are playing,” Day said. “The guys who aren’t, I’m obviously thankful for what they have done for the program. It’s a different time/era, and we’re excited about playing in this game.”

Senior defensive end Tyreke Smith and junior defensive end Zach Harrison said earlier this month they planned to play in the Rose Bowl with Harrison still weighing his options as far as the draft.

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