Ohio State’s Ryan Day updates Buckeyes’ QB competition

COLUMBUS — Ohio State football coach Ryan Day had not spoken publicly in a formal setting in more than a month when he took the mic Wednesday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

While some questions remain regarding the final composition of his 2024 coaching staff, Day covered a lot of ground, including his expectations for what should be a very veteran roster.

Here are five takeaways:

1. Devin Brown is healthy.

The redshirt freshman quarterback had a hard-luck 2023, suffering a hand injury late in spring then two ankle injuries during the season.

The first setback hindered his bid to beat Kyle McCord in the race to be Ohio State’s starting quarterback.

The second stopped him from being able to carve out a niche as a short-yardage weapon in the middle of the season, and the third cut short his bid to impress the coaching staff in McCord’s absence in the Cotton Bowl.

“It’s gonna be a fierce competition this spring, but there’s already some camaraderie in that room,” Day said of the quarterbacks. “And Devin really has the most experience out of that group coming back. He’s shown really good leadership even coming off the last one, a little bit disappointing being injured and everything, but he’s rehabbed well.”

2. Day did not declare Will Howard the likely starter, but he did not rule it out, either.

Brown figures to face another uphill climb to be the starter this fall after Day plucked Howard out of the transfer portal.

How their skills compare remains to be seen, but Howard has a distinct experience advantage after starting 27 games for Kansas State and leading the Wildcats to the Big 12 championship in 2022.

“Listen, Will came here to play football, you know? So I hope that’s his mentality,” Day replied when asked about Howard carrying himself as if he will be the starter. “I hope all guys have that mentality. So he’s gonna learn the offense and get going, but he’s done a great job so far.”

3. The quarterback can expect to be part of the running game.

“One of the things you got to do to win the last game of the year is run the football, and in order to do that, you want to have somebody that at least needs to be accounted for in the run game,” Day said. “If the defense says, ‘Well, he’s not a threat at all to run,’ that certainly changes the angles, changes the numbers, leverage all the above. And so that was one thing that I wanted to make sure we had.”

4. Day thinks the Buckeyes have what they need as far as the offensive line, but spring will tell them more.

Josh Simmons and Josh Fryar return as the starting tackles while left guard Donovan Jackson and center Carson Hinzman are also returning.

Alabama transfer Seth McLaughlin could supplant Hinzman, and Day confirmed Fryar could be a candidate to slide inside to guard, but it remains to be seen who the top five linemen are.

Lakota West grad Tegra Tshabola and Luke Montgomery figure to get the first crack at the open spot created by Matt Jones graduating.

“We’re going to have a really competitive spring and kind of see where we’re at, but the idea right now is that we have enough to go win a national championship with the guys that we have in this building right now,” Day said. “Now, if we come out of the spring and recognize that we don’t, then we’ll have to go from there, but there are some really good young players in that room, and there’s some guys now coming back with some experience. And that should matter going into next season.”

5. Day doesn’t want to give up play calling, but he feels he has to do it.

That starts with being a better decision-maker on game days but filters into all aspects of managing the program throughout the week.

“I know that my energy and my time needs to be focused on other areas, especially with everything going on across the board just with the team and the portal and (name, image and likeness payments) and just all those types of things,” Day said.

“So I know that’s the right thing to do.”

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