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Successful Spring for Ryan Day and the Buckeyes

Ryan Day
© Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Ohio State approached this Spring season with goals of moving forward after the last three seasons of not completing their main goals of beating the Wolverines, winning a Big Ten title, and competing for National Titles. One of those goals in order to compete in 2024 was to retain one of the most talented rosters in the country entering 2024. It is no secret that the Buckeyes were winners of the off-season this year, landing key recruits in Caleb Downs, Quinshon Judkins, Seth McLaughlin, Will Howard, Julian Sayin, and others. Not only did they land key guys, but they retained key players on their roster that will for sure be NFL draft picks in 2024.

When the transfer portal window opened after the Spring season, the Buckeye's main priority was to keep their roster intact but knew that some guys were going to leave due to the return of players from the previous year. The main priority was to keep the QB room together and the defense together as well. Although the Buckeyes lost some known names, none were a shock as well. Running back Dallan Hayden entered the portal which was not a surprise after landing Quinshon Judkins in the portal and retaining Treveyon Henderson as well. Wide receiver Kyion Grayes entered his name into the portal, leaving a unit that is deep after retaining Emeka Egbuka for his fourth season as a Buckeye who could have left for the NFL draft. Many expected there could have been more receivers leaving for the portal, but only Grayes name was entered when the window opened. Other guys who entered the portal were offensive lineman Enokk Vimahi, defensive backs Cedrick Hawkins and Ja'Had Carter, and linebacker Nigel Glover, who came to the Buckeyes from Northwestern last season in the portal.

Many expected the Buckeyes to see a mass departure of guys especially in a deep QB room or receiver room due to the lack of wins against the rival, no Big Ten titles, and one playoff berth in the last three seasons. Keeping the roster intact speaks to the culture that Ryan Day and his staff have built since Day took over for the Buckeyes and what this upcoming season means to this talented roster.

Day was no stranger to the criticism of QB play last season with Kyle McCord. Day was aggressive in the Winter portal window going out in getting QB Will Howard from Kansas State and talented freshman Julian Sayin from Alabama. Day also retained Devin Brown and Lincoln Kleinholz as well, who chose to stay and compete for a starting spot going into Fall camp. The Buckeyes now have four QBs on this roster who want to compete and push each other to win the job this upcoming season. Many speculate this will come down to a two-man race in Devin Brown and Will Howard but a testament to the culture and excellence of development Day is known for with QBs in keeping all these guys in the same room.

JTT & Jack Sawyer
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Another key in keeping the roster intact entering the 2024 season was the loaded defense. Ohio State retained key guys in every unit on the defense. Jack Sawyer, JT Tuimoloau, and Tyleik Williams were three guys who could have left for the NFL draft. Defensive end Kenyata Jackson, who is a key rotational piece was a name thrown around that could have sought the portal in order to find a starting job and not just be a rotational piece. Retaining all four guys speaks to the goals of these young men and what it means to compete and develop under Larry Johnson. This defensive line will be the anchor of a highly talented Jim Knowles defense.

Tim Walton with Denzel Burke & Jordan Hancock
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

The secondary retained first-round projected pick Denzel Burke in the NFL draft for 2024. From there, key guys Jordan Hancock and safety Lathan Ransom all chose to return as well to the Buckeyes, guys who could have left for the NFL draft. With these guys returning names that were thrown around that could have left for the portal were Jermaine Matthews Jr, who saw playing time as a true freshman, and safety Malik Hartford, who saw playing time as a true freshman as well. Not only did the Buckeyes retain a loaded secondary, but they also brought in a recruiting class of defensive backs that was ranked top five in the country. The Buckeyes also brought in the number one player in the portal in safety Caleb Downs. A loaded secondary unit with more than 15 guys in the room led many to speculate they were going to lose a handful of names to the portal. The Buckeyes were able to retain the bulk of the secondary only losing two guys in this unit.

All in all, Ohio State has no doubt one of, if not the most talented roster entering the 2024 season. The depth and star power the Buckeyes have will be key in this new format of college football with a 12-team playoff. With the new changes in college football, the goals still remain the same for Ryan Day's team which is to beat the team up north, win the Big Ten, and compete for a National Title!


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