Buckeyes

Addition of Justin Fields capped impressive first week as head coach for Ryan Day

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Ryan Day is a good coach. No one questioned that. The two questions surrounding the Ohio State Buckeyes new head football coach were his ability to recruit, and which coaches he could (and would) be able to bring onto his coaching staff to improve the Buckeyes, both on and off the field. Officially becoming the head coach at 12:01 a.m. ET last Tuesday morning, hours after the conclusion of the Rose Bowl, Day already had his hands full.

Having already added five-star defensive end Zach Harrison to the 2019 recruiting class and then brought Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich onto coaching staff, Ohio State made quite a splash this past Friday, adding sophomore quarterback and Georgia transfer Justin Fields into the fold.

He’s not just any regular quarterback. Fields was the No. 2 overall prospect in the 2018 class and had a .9998 rating according to 247Sports’ Composite Rankings, which makes him the highest-rated player in Ohio State football history, barely edging out quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who had a .9997 rating when he committed to the Buckeyes in 2008.

During his first and only season with the Bulldogs, the quarterback completed 27-of-39 passes for 328 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions. The freshman also ran for 266 yards and four touchdowns on 42 carries while backing up Jake Fromm. He didn’t get to showcase his talents much, but even with that, Ohio State knows how talented the kid is. Not only are Fields and Dwayne Haskins good friends who worked out together this past summer, but they also share the same quarterback coach, Quincy Avery. The coach has been a huge believer in Day from Day 1.

“The thing about Ryan Day, speaking with Dwayne in terms about how Ryan Day helped his development, is the offense at Ohio State,” Avery told Birm from Lettermen’s Row. “He gives a bunch of pro-style concepts. The things he does on third down are very creative. He prepares you with the quarterback mindset to play at the next level. That’s all you can ask for as a college quarterback, someone who is going to teach you and help you get better and help you grow as a quarterback.

“The goal isn’t to develop guys for the NFL for Ryan Day. The goal is to win games, but in doing those things, he develops them for the NFL.”

When rumors began circulating that Fields was set to transfer, he had two schools that were rumored to be favorites to land him: Ohio State and Oklahoma. Then, when Sooners head coach told five-star quarterback commit Spencer Rattler that he will “be the only quarterback [he’ll] sign in 2019”, the only question seemed to be when Fields would officially become a Buckeye rather than if he would.

Fields is not only talented, but Avery believes that his skill set is a mix between Cam Newton and Deshaun Watson, with the ability to run and throw with accuracy and power.

“It sounds crazy to compare him to those guys who are of course at the pinnacle of the sport, but you see characteristics of Cam Newton and Deshaun Watson,” he said. “Those are guys he shares traits with or guys [Fields] reminds me of.”

Avery also believes that Fields has similar traits to Haskins, the quarterback that he could very well replace as Ohio State’s starting quarterback starting next fall.

“They’re both elite passers,” Avery said. “And we all got to see what Dwayne did this year at Ohio State.”

With Haskins expected to forego his final two years of eligibility and declare for the 2019 NFL Draft, if Fields is deemed eligible for the 2019 season, he will instantly become the favorite to land the starting quarterback job as Haskins’ successor. The biggest question is if the transfer can be eligible to play next fall, rather than having to sit out the season because of NCAA transfer rules. The quarterback is expected to petition the NCAA for a hardship waiver that would grant him immediate eligibility. Fields will have a case due to an incident this past fall that involved a Georgia baseball player that shouted racial slurs toward the quarterback, leading to said baseball player being dismissed from the team.

Much like Buckeye Nation, Avery is already very excited to see Fields take the field in Columbus. Hopefully, it’s sooner rather than later, but it seems as though Ohio State got a very special talent, even if it was a year later than they had hoped.

“The biggest obstacle now is just learning the offense, getting to know the offense put in front of him and understanding it quickly,” Avery said. “But that’s what he was able to do with the Elite 11 playbook. He’s a quick learner and it will make him very successful.

“I just want to see him on the field every play and getting the opportunity to make plays out there. That’ll be the cool thing. He’s going to get every opportunity to win the job.”

Although offensive lineman Michael Jordan declared for the NFL Draft, Jordan Fuller decided to return for his senior year. At a program like Ohio State, players leaving early to achieve their ultimate dream is expected, but at least Fuller decided to come back, which is a huge boost for Ohio State’s secondary in 2019, a defense that is looking to bounce back in a big way next fall.

Even with an impressive first five days on the job, Day still has his hands full. He has plenty of decisions to make involving his coaching staff on the defensive side of the ball. After the Silver Bullets had one of their worst years in a long time, it’s likely that there could be quite a shakeup on that side of the ball. The head coach also has to continue to remain focused on the recruiting trail. Although he has already added two elite recruits in Harrison and Fields, Day and company can’t let up. It’s been one heckuva start, but if Day wants to prove that he can be one of the best coaches in the country and follow in the footsteps of Urban Meyer, he must continue to dominate both on the field and on the recruiting trail, while also making sure that he has some of the best assistants in the country on his side.