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Ryan Day had to make a few difficult recruiting decisions in the last month for Ohio State. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Recruiting Question of the Day

Recruiting numbers give Ryan Day early challenge leading Buckeyes

Have a question about Ohio State recruiting? This is the place for you, five days a week. Submit your questions on Twitter or on the Lettermen Row forums. Check-in daily to see what’s on the mind of Buckeyes fans all over the country. Today, we look at the question of scholarship numbers and how Ryan Day handled that difficult topic in his first year as the head coach at Ohio State.

Ohio State Recruiting Question of the Day

Recruiting numbers are a fickle, fickle mistress. We wrote a bit about them back in December of 2018, shortly after Ryan Day signed his first recruiting class at Ohio State with a bit of limitations.

“The numbers can get tricky, but they’re also the most important guideline for coaches and recruiting departments as they attempt to build a class. Ryan Day made note of that almost immediately on Wednesday.

“We signed 14 players as of right now in the early signing period, and we’re very, very excited about all the players that we signed,” Day said. “I think this class would rank top-five nationally when grading the individual player, not cumulatively. We don’t lose a lot of seniors this year, and so within the 85 scholarships, there’s really not that many spots and limited room.”

Ohio State is already over the number when it comes to the Class of 2020. That’s the primary reason that the Buckeyes opted to cancel the official visit that 4-star Georgia running back Jahmyr Gibbs had planned last weekend. Sure, Day and Ohio State could have brought Gibbs in for his visit. And sure, the Buckeyes could have accepted a commitment from him. But for every player that gets added right now, another player has to be subtracted.

Every school operates under the same guideline, and the rule is simple: Get to 85 scholarship players by the time fall camp starts at the end of July or early August.

Not every school operates the same way, though, with some preferring to dismiss players on a whim in order to replace them with new players as they see fit. That’s their right to do so. Nick Saban and Alabama would process their way to 115 or more signees every four years compared to 85 signees for the country’s more conservative programs. Being one of the country’s elite programs affords some unique opportunities for coaches like Saban — and now Ryan Day. So many players want to suit up for this select group of schools, and those kids usually have enough confidence in their own abilities to hold steadfastly to the notion that the roster management will only happen to other players and not them.

Everyone wants to win. Everyone also professes to wanting to win the right way, and while the definition of that changes from person to person, it seems fairly obvious that the right way doesn’t and shouldn’t include cutting players on the roster every year to bring in the next group. Day and the Buckeyes clearly don’t want to make that the norm in Columbus.

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Matthew Baldwin’s transfer meant Ohio State had to play catch up at quarterback in 2020. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

There’s no reason for the program to worry about Day and his experience when it comes to managing a roster. The numbers do the managing for him. The only wiggle room is created by the coach himself based on his knowledge of what players on the current roster are likely to do. There is and always will be attrition from spring to summer and summer to fall, and those changes aren’t usually surprises to a coaching staff that is paying attention to their players.

As for the notion that Ryan Day’s first full recruiting class at Ohio State is full of projects and that is why he passed on a player like Gibbs?

The Buckeyes have the country’s fourth-ranked recruiting class, and it includes nine 3-star prospects according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings. Urban Meyer was regarded as a world-class roster manager — and his first recruiting class for the Buckeyes in 2012 had nine 3-star players also. His 2014 class had seven.

Not every player is going to be a superstar the moment he steps on campus, and it’s much harder to manage a roster down the road when every player heads into his college career with a three-year plan for college football. On the other side of that, when everyone expects to play right away and then they don’t, transfers happen at a higher-than-normal rate. Once again, that would make managing the numbers a matter of playing catchup, and it’s always better to be ahead of the game.

Ohio State recruiting: Ryan Day visits Cameron Martinez, Buckeyes move on to 2021 running backs
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Need more Ohio State recruiting #Stuff? Join the conversation below in the comments and sign up for Scarlet Sunrise, Lettermen Row’s morning newsletter that will get your day started with all the important Ohio State news you need to know. Prefer video? Follow Buckeyes football on YouTube with Lettermen Row. You can also get your recruiting fix by subscribing to Talking Stuff: The Ohio State Recruiting Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and Stitcher

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