Ohio State football: 5 things to learn about Buckeyes at Big Ten Media Days

Ohio State joins the Big Ten Football Media Days party Friday along with representatives from six other teams.

Here are some things we are hoping to learn on the second day of the annual event that marks the unofficial beginning of football’s preseason.

Explore6 questions facing the Buckeyes this preseason

1. How is the new Zach Harrison?

Among the storylines for Ohio State this season is building the defense back to championship level.

Getting a better pass rush would go a long way toward achieving that goal, and Harrison might be the best bet in that regard.

A five-star prospect from central Ohio, he came to Ohio State with great expectations but is still working to meet them.

Coaches said he looked like a new man in the spring, but what does that look like? This sill also be a good chance for writers and media members from other schools to get a sense of what Harrison is like.

2. How is life as a super senior for Thayer Munford?

Ohio State’s three-year starter at left tackle surprised many by making the decision to take advantage of a fifth year of eligibility granted by the NCAA as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was Pro Football Focus’ No. 4 offensive tackle in the country last season and could have entered the NFL Draft, but instead he is the No. 1 returning tackle in the country.

Munford said the desire to finish work toward his degree was among his motivations for returning, and he is an engaging interview, so he should do well on the interview stage as well.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

WATCH: Thayer Munford explains why he is back at Ohio State for a 5th year

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

3. What will Jeremy Ruckert do with his final season of eligibility?

A Lindenhurst, N.Y., native, Ruckert was among the top 40 prospects in the country and the No. 2-rated tight end coming out of high school three years ago.

He caught 28 passes for 306 yards and nine touchdowns in three seasons and could have entered the NFL Draft on potential, but he chose to return instead.

That decision could have a big impact on the Buckeye offense even if he does not have a huge season statistically.

The presence of a versatile tight end like Ruckert makes game-planning easier, and it greatly raises the chances Ohio State again has the type of depth it has enjoyed at tight end the last couple of seasons, something that cleared the way for more offensive packages.

Ruckert’s version of how he might be used and what the rest of the tight end room has done this summer should be interesting.

Explore5 things to know about the schedule

4. Has Ohio State had the type of offseason it needed to in order to close the gap between the Buckeyes and Alabama?

The Crimson Tide’s decisive win over the Buckeyes in the National Championship Game left no doubt UA is the pre-eminent program in the country, but Day said he was still happy to get a shot at the champs.

He also admitted there is a gap between the programs but suggested it would have been wider if Ohio State had not been able to play last season.

After a fairly normal offseason, where does his team stand now in relation to Nick Saban’s?

5. What is the rest of the league doing to try to catch the Buckeyes?

The other coaches set to speak on the second day no doubt would like to be in Day’s position — coaching the defending champions of the league.

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, Michigan State coach Mel Tucker, Indiana coach Tom Allen and Purdue coach Jeff Brohm will all get their chances to beat Ohio State in the regular season while Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz or Paul Chryst of Wisconsin could get a shot in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Allen, whose team rose to No. 2 in the Big Ten East last season, admitted two years ago what everyone already knew: They’re all chasing the Buckeyes. How are they going to catch up?