Ryan Day rundown: Ohio State coach says now is time to separate in spring

Ohio State football coach Ryan Day opened the penultimate week of spring practice for 2022 by saying now is the time for players who can help this fall to differentiate themselves from those who might not be ready.

“There’s been a lot of guys who have had great opportunity to step up,” Day said Tuesday. “I guess this is practice nine so we still have Wednesday (and) Friday this week and then we come back and have another week before we head into the spring game.

“So this is kind of where you find out where guys are in terms of they gonna start to separate themselves.”

Here’s a look at everything Day discussed Monday:

  • He likes progress of young linebackers, cornerbacks and defensive linemen.
  • The defense has a lot of different personnel groupings and as they figure out which ones they can use they will develop. The Jack/Leo package is part of that and it’s a good package. They have installed a lot so now it will be a matter of figuring out what fits the personnel and what they can use.

  • Steele Chambers made a significant impact last year despite having little experience at linebacker after starting his career as a running back. He has grown a lot and so obviously is further along this year than he was at this point last year. The whole group has more experience plus there are young guys with some potential, including Alter grad C.J. Hicks.
  • Donovan Jackson getting some work at left tackle is mostly a matter of developing depth. He is a guard overall. He’s very intelligent and athletic. When a guy like Josh Fryar comes back, he will help at tackle. (Fryar is someone many people, including the guys at the combine, have said has shown promise, but he is out with an injury this spring.)
  • Kyle McCord has had a good spring. He has thrown the ball well, and he is competitive so he wants to be at Ohio State. He understands the value of development. He has a better feel for things this year and has displayed better decision-making overall.
  • The “jack” position creates some indecision for the line, as Jim Knowles discussed last week. It messes up blocking schemes by changing from a four-down look to a three-down look without changing personnel.
  • He likes the depth developing on the defensive line. They are two and even three deep at just about all four spots.
  • The safeties seem to be doing well. Guys have respect for Tanner McAlister for what he has done, and he approached the room the right way. The communication between the three safeties is important for the defense to work as intended.
  • Devin Brown has pleased him through nine practices. The true freshman quarterback has the athleticism and a strong arm, and he is working through the early phases of learning everything. They could add another quarterback this year because he likes to have four on the roster, but time will tell. He feels good about the three he has in McCord and starter C.J. Stroud.
  • Stroud has not let his newfound fame go to his head. He has remained on an even keel since last year even with some early struggles and then the strong finish to the season.
  • All of the tight ends have displayed good athleticism this year. In evaluating them, there is a checklist of jobs they must perform to earn playing time. The more they can do, the more they play. Starts with blocking an end and also includes being able to block down, pull and crack a guy, stock block on the outside, run routes, etc. He noted pretty much all of their tight ends perviously played a different position, including Joe Royer being a receiver in high school even though he was recruited to play tight end for the Buckeyes.
  • All signs are the defense is improving this spring. He gets that idea daily as he’s watched it develop. They won’t really know what they have until they play a real game. The spring game should be fun but there is a lot more to do after that, including using preseason continue honing everything.
  • They have done some prep work for Notre Dame, but not much.
  • The format for the spring game has not been determined yet. That will partly depend on who is available at what position.
  • He’s pleased with the job the new secondary coaches and defensive line coach Larry Johnson have done this spring. Overall the energy and confidence is good. Guys seem to be enjoying playing for Perry Eliano and Tim Walton. Just overall the group having more experience is big because it increases their confidence.
  • The way Knowles calls the defense in practice produces more juice overall for the unit.
  • Ohio State had a bunch of recruiting visitors over the weekend, and Day felt it went well. They hosted some really good prospects with great families. Nowadays guys often want to be ready to end recruiting completely when they commit, and Ohio State wants them to feel that way. That apparently means there are some guys who could be close to making announcements but are still finishing up the process.
  • He agreed with Knowles’ comments last week about running backs often translating to good linebackers. Steele Chambers and Chip Trayanum were both recruited as both but went the running back route to start in college. (If you think about it…. Most guys who are good enough to play linebacker in college probably are running backs in high school now, and in the past it was probably ALL of them, so maybe this isn’t as unique as we’ve made it out to be in the media.)
  • Linebacker Tommy Eichenberg does seem to have built up some momentum with a good performance in the Rose Bowl. He sees things well, and he seems to be enjoying the new defense. Now it’s about adding up reps. Having more experience helps, so they are hoping he will play like a veteran like some of those guys a couple of years ago. The game slows down with experience.
  • They are still looking at lots of different positions to try to determine a two-deep. Many guys have shown promise, but how many are game-ready? That remains to be seen (of course it’s still April). They have five or six offensive linemen they can rely on but would like to get that number to eight or nine. The story is similar at receiver.
  • Someone asked about Enokk Vimahi, and Day said the junior offensive linemen is coming along. (He seems to be on the cusp of joining the group of guys the coaches can bank on.)
  • Kam Babb has remained healthy for the most part this spring after injuries have pretty much wiped out his whole career up to this point. The veteran receiver had a bump in the road recently that worried Day, but it appears not to be serious. He should be back in a couple of weeks and looks like he can help them down the road.
  • He agreed C.J. Stroud is great at seeing the whole picture and processing it quickly and making the plays that need to be made. Day also joked he himself had to see the field well because he wasn’t athletic enough to do anything else.
  • He likes how Knowles runs the defense meetings. He is in front and there is a lot of interaction, and the whole team seems to be more tied together this year on that side of the ball. He is a good teacher and it translates well to the field.
  • Having Stroud and center Luke Wypler both going into their second years playing is huge. They are both smart and conscientious, like to watch film and get what they are seeing. Everything was new last year so they had no reference points for anything. Now they do so that helps.
  • Asked about true freshmen playing, he said everyone needs to understand they have their own journey. Some will play right away, many need some development. That is something they stress with everyone, but having guys play early is cool when they show they are worthy of it.

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