Buckeyes’ freshman quarterback gets Day’s attention

Published 8:58 pm Thursday, April 11, 2024

By Jim Naveau


COLUMBUS – Ohio State’s quarterback this season could be more of a runner than the Buckeyes have been used to the last few seasons.

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But naming a front runner to play that position is still a long way off, OSU coach Ryan Day said when he previewed Saturday’s spring game during a press conference on Wednesday.

Four quarterbacks are competing to become the starter – former Kansas State starter Will Howard, last year’s back-up Devin Brown, last year’s No. 3 quarterback Lincoln Kienholz, and Julian Sayin, a recent arrival via the transfer portal from Alabama.

“I don’t think we’ve narrowed it down. These guys bring a lot to the table. Each guy brings experience or a skill set that’s different. I wouldn’t say I’m ready to name a starter yet but there has been good competition. I think ultimately what we’re looking for is the consistency over time,” Day said.

That is exactly the sort of thing Day or almost any coach in his situation would say.

If there was a surprise, it was how much he talked about Sayin, the No. 1 quarterback in the 2024 recruiting class who had a change of heart about Alabama after Nick Saban retired.

“He’s in the mix. Julian has been competing his tail off. He will continue to do that. He’s got a really bright future,” Day said.

Sayin lost the black stripe from his helmet, a holdover ceremony from the Urban Meyer era which signifies a player is a full-fledged member of the team, in a record time of just nine practices.

“Nine practices in you could see he was making a lot of throws in big spots, even against the ones (the first-team defense). His play speaks for itself,” Day said.

“He’s got to be ready to go play at Oregon, be ready to play at Penn State, he’s got to be ready to play against the team up north, he’s got to be ready to play for the Big Ten and national championship. That’s got to be in his mind because we know the last time the national championship was won we were on quarterback No. 3.

“He has a good plan when he gets out there. He doesn’t want to get his hand held. I’ve been impressed with his approach. He’s got a really, really bright future. How fast he gets on the field will be kind of up to

him,” he said.

Some other thoughts from Day:

– The right side of OSU’s offensive line is the biggest unanswered question right now about this year’s team.

“I can’t tell you that right side is solidified right now. So we have to keep looking at all options,” Day said.

“The biggest thing is the right side, that right guard position. We’ve used a bunch of different combinations there. We want to see if someone can take that next step at that position.”

– Both offensive tackles –Josh Simmons and Josh Fryar – have improved since last season.

“Josh Fryar has really changed his body. His body fat is down. That is something we really hammered this offseason. I think for Josh Simmons that was never an issue. I think it’s more the experience and understanding the offense. Both guys have benefitted from another year, but both for different reasons,” Day said.

– Howard’s experience shows. “Will is working really hard. He’s in the building early, he’s in the building late. He’s put in a lot of work. You see the experience, you see the hard work, you see the ability. Every practice he’s out there he’s learning the offense and feeling more comfortable with it,” Day said.

– Locklyn stood out: Day said new running backs coach Carlos Locklyn “stuck out for a lot of reasons.”

“I just was impressed with him, his overall mentality and approach, but also just his understanding of football. I think the guys really like him. I think it’s going to be a home run for us,” he said.