Day recaps Buckeyes’ third spring practice


With spring break now in the rearview mirror, Ohio State returned to the practice field on Tuesday for its third practice of the spring and the first with players in pads. Following the practice, head coach Ryan Day met with the media to recap the morning and speak for the first time on the departure of running backs coach Tony Alford to archrival Michigan last week.

It didn’t take long for Day to be asked about Alford’s surprising departure, which Day said he was made aware of last week, two practices into the spring schedule. Now Day must scramble to fill the position and is currently interviewing candidates.

“I’m excited about the group we’ve already identified, and we’re going to be thorough in the process,” Day said. “I think the good news is we’re not in a situation where we have to make a quick decision based on recruiting or the (transfer) portal or anything like that.

“I talked to the running backs and they’re great. They’re actually going to be part of the (hiring) process. I’d like for part of the interview process to be for the running backs to meet the candidates. Obviously, ultimately, I’ll make the decision and (offensive coordinator) Chip (Kelly) will be a huge part of it. But the input of the running backs will be important as well. But they’ve been great.”

Day said he believes Ohio State’s running back room is the best in the country at the moment, which makes for “an exciting job” with a candidate pool that’s been “excellent.”

In the interim, Day has taken it upon himself to shoulder some of the responsibilities in the running back room, something he’s never done before in his coaching career. While he may have never worked directly with running backs, Day said on Monday, with an ear-to-ear grin, that the process has been “great” even if the running backs may not agree.

“We went in (the meeting room) and put up the first play, and I think I went off for 20 minutes on one play. Some of the guys were looking around like, ‘Oh boy,’” Day joked. “But I think it’s going to be good for them to see it through the eyes of a quarterback. I think it’s really good for them in the passing game and I think it’s really good for them overall to understand from a high view of things. So we had great meetings. We have a very intelligent group in that room.”

Ohio State’s quarterback situation remains in flux as Kansas State transfer Will Howard continues to find his place in a room that is otherwise light on experience. With Devin Brown and Lincoln Keinholz representing the only quarterbacks on the roster to have taken snaps at Ohio State, much is still left to be decided as spring practice moves forward.

For now, Day said the aim for each practice is to continue to split reps between the three, with true freshmen Air Noland and Julian Sayin also involved, until there is a larger sample size.

“We were on and off the field in an hour and a half today … The next two practices will be longer and more physical, so Chip and I are going to get together on that and figure out how we break down those reps. But there will be a lot more reps in the next couple of practices. We’re still only three practices in, so we still want to roll them as much as we can and get as many reps as we can. As we start getting into the heart of practice, we’ll start to divvy up those reps the best we can.”

Much like the quarterback group, Ohio State’s offensive line remains a work in progress, particularly along the right side. Josh Fryar returns after starting at right tackle all of last season, but Luke Montgomery is pushing to crack the starting lineup at either guard or tackle, leaving questions about how the final unit will look come August.

Day again noted the lack of evaluation time to make any declarations but did say Fryar has impressed this offseason with a strong series of winter workouts.

“I can’t say we’re in a different place now than we were about a month ago because there really isn’t enough valuation to go off,” Day said. “I will say that Josh Fryar had one of the best offseasons of anybody in the building. Now, we had a bunch of guys who had really good offseasons, but he stuck out. If he can continue to stay in the shape he is now, I think he’s going to continue to have a really good spring and take the next step.

“If that’s the case, then the big spot will be at right guard. Luke’s in there right now, but we have a bunch of guys moving through there. But if Josh can possibly move in to guard and then Tegra (Tshabola) moves in (at tackle) if he makes a push, that would be great as well.”

Carson Hinzman and Alabama transfer Seth McLaughlin continue to battle to start at center. Like the right side of the line, Day said there will be a better feel for how that battle is taking shape next week as the two get more practices under their belts.

“I don’t think there was one issue with the snaps today, so that’s critical,” Day said. “They both have experience, so that’s great. And then it’s trying to figure out who the best five (offensive linemen) will be, but you don’t know about offensive linemen until the pads come on. You just don’t. Today was a padded practice but it was on and off (in 90 minutes) for a reason. As we get some inside drill going and a few other things, we’ll get a better idea. But they both have had good offseasons and good approaches.”

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

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