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Ryan Day finding recruiting success with focus on family feel

Ryan Day-Ohio State buckeyes-ohio state football
Ryan Day excelled as a recruiter as an assistant coach for Ohio State before taking over the program. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football Recruiting

Ryan Day finding recruiting success with focus on family feel

Want a job working for Ohio State football? Better love recruiting.

It’s the first thing anybody reporting for a shift will be dealing with every single day, because that’s what Ryan Day is working on as soon as he walks in the door of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center each morning.

“Our No. 1 priority in the building is recruiting,” Day said at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago last week. “And so as the head coach, as the position coach, anybody else in the building, that’s the first things we focus on every day.

“As football coaches a lot of times we want to hit on scheme. We want to talk about plays, but it’s more about recruiting and about working with our guys to create that brotherhood amongst each other and having that approach now where it’s more of a macro approach as opposed to just looking at the Xs and Os and the football and everything like that.”

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Ryan Day has a program built in Urban Meyer’s shadow but he’s adapting it to his own style. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Judging the results of Day’s first few months as a head coach solely on the recruiting outcomes, it’s hard to suggest it’s been anything but positive. Ohio State has the country’s third-ranked 2020 recruiting class after an incredible run of commitments in June and July and has a chance to climb to the top spot in the weeks ahead.

Day had been a formidable recruiter as an assistant coach and was the primary recruiter for Garrett Wilson and Harry Miller, a pair of 5-star recruits in the 2019 class. And he has found a handful of dynamic recruiters led by Jeff Hafley and Brian Hartline to work alongside him and complement staff holdovers like Tony Alford and Larry Johnson. Hafley and Hartline have gone back and forth in the top three of the 247Sports.com coach recruiting rankings, and those two young, energetic and straightforward coaches have become the face of Day’s first staff.

Day, 40-years-old, isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel in Columbus. His predecessor built a recruiting machine that he has left alone for the most part. Still, there’s a clear-cut and definable energy radiating from Ohio State right now. And it’s a little different than it used to be.

It’s a little bit country, and it’s a little bit rock-and-roll. It’s embracing the grind while embracing each other.

“Our staff is killing it,” Day said during his hour-long session with the media last Thursday. “They’re doing a great job. It’s competitiveness. Being ultra-competitive and trying to find ways to win the battle. That’s got to carry over to the season, but so far it’s working in the recruiting world.

“Our staff is doing a great job, but empowering those guys and understanding that it’s everybody involved. If a kid commits, it’s not just the head coach or the coordinator or the position coach, it’s everybody in that building understanding that they have a piece of this thing. Go around and congratulate everybody, they’re all involved with this. I think if you asked the families of the kids who are involved in this right now, they would tell you the same thing. They feel that there’s this family environment going on, and it’s a place they feel comfortable sending their kid.”

Brian Hartline-Wandale Robinson-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football-Ohio State recruiting

Brian Hartline has become one of the country’s most successful relationship-builders. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Day is direct and honest, but engaging and available. He is demanding that the Ohio State program stay elite, but he also is refusing to appear elitist. For Day it’s all about making sure that his vision doesn’t get confused with Urban Meyer’s, even if his own plan has spun off from that approach and influence.

So far, so good.

“I think the plan is working,” Day said. “The minute someone met Urban or he went into a house, there was instant credibility there. I think our staff and me as the new head coach, we had to spend a little more time of understanding that this is our vision and selling our vision of what this is. It’s been successful that way. We spent a lot of time talking about how it’s not just the coaches. It’s everybody involved. The [graduate assistants]. Everybody in that building.

“When someone walks in the building, it’s the environment. Because if we say we’re going to be a family, we have to be a family. If you send your son to Ohio State, he’s going to be taken care of. This program is going to be motivated through love and that’s part of being a family.

“What I say to our guys all the time, and what I say to the recruits is: ‘Who do you love the most in your life?’ And they all say their family. ‘What would you do for them?’ And they say anything. Well, why can’t we have that same relationship with our players and our coaches? That’s really what we talk about with our guys.”

That message is being heard loud and clear around the country. And it’s getting Ryan Day and the new Ohio State family off to an incredible start.

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