COLUMBUS — In just his first week after taking over for Urban Meyer as the coach of Ohio State, Ryan Day has contributed to a Rose Bowl title, seen a handful of players make choices regarding their future and revamped the defensive staff of the Buckeyes. And the changes are likely not yet through.
Day wasted no time in moving things around at Ohio State, and despite losing a few important pieces along the way to the NFL, he also gained a massive asset at quarterback and learned that a handful of Buckeyes plan on returning for another season. The Silver Bullets also landed a group of coaches brought in to make improvements to one of the worst defenses statistically in program history.
And it’s only been eight days.
In that time, the new head coach of the Buckeyes has taken the reins and already begun to move a program sprinkled with talent at every position toward its goal of another national championship.
Head spinning from all the moves? Lettermen Row is looking back on the timeline of a busy first week for Day and Ohio State.
Jan. 1: The Buckeyes defeat Washington in the Rose Bowl, earning Urban Meyer his first-ever win in the bowl and final victory at Ohio State. Meyer then, quite literally, handed the whistle over to Ryan Day in the locker room following the game — officially kickstarting the Day era of the program.
Jan. 2: Day makes his first move as coach of the Buckeyes, bringing former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich on the Ohio State staff as the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach. At 43, Yurcich comes from a Cowboys offense that was consistently ranked among the nation’s leaders in offensive efficiency in each of the last three seasons. With Ohio roots, he should fair well on the local recruiting front.
Jan. 3: Ohio State received some good news on the defensive side of the ball, as safety Jordan Fuller announced he would be returning to the program for another season. A captain, he led the team with 81 tackles while adding an interception and two fumbles this season. After a rough year for the Silver Bullets, the return of Fuller is huge along with Malik Harrison, who said after the Rose Bowl that he would also be coming back for his senior year.
Jan. 4: The next day, however, Ohio State learned of two departures from the program — one on staff and one on the field. Co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Alex Grinch left the Buckeyes for the defensive coordinator position at Oklahoma while center Michael Jordan announced his intentions of entering the NFL Draft.
That was offset by one massive addition, though, as former five-star recruit Justin Fields officially announced his transfer from Georgia to Ohio State. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Fields was the country’s No. 2-ranked overall prospect in the recruiting class of 2018 and is now the highest-rated player to ever play for Ohio State. If granted immediate eligibility, he will bring an elite arm and NFL talent to an already excellent quarterback room as well as impacting other aspects of the team.
Jan. 5: There was not a bit of news on the coaching or NFL Draft front, but the men’s basketball game against Michigan State was full of special guests. Former Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer was honored during a timeout in the first half of the game, and after walking off the floor, he made his way over to Dwayne Haskins and Fields who were sitting courtside.
Jan. 6: Early enrollees from the 2019 recruiting class made their way onto to campus to get things rolling for them at Ohio State. The eight new Buckeyes will be getting ready for spring ball in March and April by jumping right into the offseason conditioning program. The group includes Ronnie Hickman, Noah Potter, Ryan Jacoby, Garrett Wilson, Marcus Crowley, Zach Harrison and Justin Fields.
Jan. 7: By far the busiest day of the first week on the job for Ryan Day, Monday brought a handful of coaching changes in hopes of improving one of the worst defenses statistically in all of college football this past season. First, it was announced that Day hired former Michigan coach Greg Mattison and San Francisco 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley as co-defensive coordinators. In turn, Greg Schiano, Bill Davis and Taver Johnson were all given the green light to pursue other opportunities — with Schiano and Davis already saying their eyes are on the NFL ranks.
It will be interesting to see how Hafley and Mattison work together on the field, but how they recruit around the country will also be something to keep an eye on.
Jan. 8: One more coaching addition and one returning asset on offense capped off Day’s first week as head coach at Ohio State, as he announced the hiring of Michigan linebackers coach Al Washington to tighten up that position for the Silver Bullets. He was known as an excellent recruiter while with the Wolverines after coaching there for one season following stints at Cincinnati and Boston College. At Ohio State, he’ll not only rejoin Mattison but also be returning to his hometown of Columbus.
Additionally, the Buckeyes learned that a Zone Six veteran would be back for one more season in the Scarlet and Gray after K.J. Hill announced he was returning. Now instead of needing to replace all of their four top wide receivers from a season that produced record-setting passing numbers, a Big Ten championship and a Rose Bowl victory, the Buckeyes will be able to build around one of their most consistent weapons over the last two seasons.