When Ryan Day was named Ohio State's head coach in December 2018, concerns were immediately raised about his ability to recruit the top talent Buckeye fans had become accustomed to under Urban Meyer. With his first year in the books as the head coach, those concerns about Day's recruiting prowess have been laid to rest, as Day was able to land a top-five recruiting class that will help keep the Buckeyes in the discussion for future College Football Playoff berths.
While addressing the media on Feb. 5, Day stated, "I want to thank our staff for putting together a great class, and most importantly, you know, is the fit for us. And we’ve done an unbelievable job of getting the right fit already for those guys here mid-year; they’re fitting in really well."
Ohio State has an abundance of talent returning in 2020, even with several early departures for the NFL. Below are five positions and/or individuals that will bear watching as the 2020 college football season gets closer.
1. Backup Quarterback (C.J. Stroud/Jack Miller)
It was a fairly open secret that quarterback depth behind starter Justin Fields was precarious during the 2019 season. Gunnar Hoak returns as a backup quarterback, but the Buckeyes will also welcome the talents of highly recruited signees Stroud and Miller. Both signal-callers have enrolled early, and they will have ample opportunities to showcase their talents this spring and next season, as they will try to emerge as a possible starter at quarterback in 2021 if Fields declares early for the NFL draft.
2. Wide Receivers (Mookie Cooper, Julian Fleming, Gee Scott Jr., Jaxon Smith-Njigba)
Ohio State is losing several talented wide receivers from its 2019 roster in K.J. Hill, Austin Mack, and Binjimen Victor. Reinforcements are on the way, though, with arguably the best wide receiver recruits in the program's history, a group that's headlined by Fleming. All were exceptional in high school, and all have enrolled early at Ohio State. They will be given chances to impress the coaching staff and move up a depth chart that is relatively open.
3. Paris Johnson, OT
The top-rated player in Ohio, Johnson originally gave a verbal commitment to Ohio State when Urban Meyer was the head coach. After Ryan Day was named his replacement, Johnson took some time before reaffirming his commitment to Ohio State and enrolled early this winter. Johnson may not be able to secure the presently-open right tackle position on the offensive line, but he may be able to move up on the depth chart and position himself for the crucial left tackle position that will be available in 2021.
4. Miyan Williams, RB
With the departure of J.K. Dobbins to the NFL, Ohio State has a substantial need at the tailback position. Master Teague III, Marcus Crowley, Steele Chambers, and Demario McCall all return at the position, but Williams could be in the mix for playing time at this position, based upon how he performs in fall camp.
5. Cade Stover, DE
Redshirted in 2019, Stover enrolled as a linebacker but will be moved to defensive end for the 2020 season. With the loss of talented defensive end Chase Young to the 2020 NFL Draft, Stover is being compared to former Ohio State standout Sam Hubbard as a possible contributor in the fall.