The first day of Ohio State spring football practice confirmed many suspicions.
Yes, Zach Harrison is a big, long impressive athlete.
Justin Fields has a strong arm.
Oh yeah, and Urban Meyer is gone.
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But perhaps the biggest overall takeaway from a peak at Ohio State football practice on Wednesday morning was this: It’s still Ohio State.
Here are observations from Columbus:
1. Ryan Day is in charge now.
But the look and feel of practice was much the same as the Meyer days.
There’s still music piped in to liven things up and a PA announcer calling out the action from various parts on the field.
Still silver helmets and gray pants with the same red and white practice jerseys.
While Day is sure to put his stamp on the program as time passes, there was nothing new to the naked eye during the hour of practice that was open to the media.
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“Along the way there are going to be little changes here and there, and over time those changes add up,” Day said. “But for me to come in and just start making crazy changes just to say it’s mine, I’m not going to do that. The kids who came into this program did so for a reason.”
2. Fields looks to be on top of the depth chart.
A sophomore transfer from Georgia, Fields took No. 1 reps at quarterback during the drills media were allowed to watch.
The 6-3, 223-pound 2018 five-star recruit showed off a strong arm, but accuracy left something to be desired on his first day working “live” with a new group of receivers.
“That’s all normal,” Day said. “Shoot, it’s like that in the NFL. As practice went on I thought the timing was good. I thought the ball came out well. Obviously we have a ton to improve, but for day one, I was encouraged.”
Redshirt freshman Matthew Baldwin worked at QB2 with senior Chris Chugunov and walk-on Daniel Vanatsky behind him.
3. Josh Harrison passes the look test.
The No. 1 recruit in Ohio State’s 2019 recruiting class was hard to miss even in a group of talented defensive linemen.
The Olentangy Orange High School product is every bit of the 6-foot-6 at which he is listed.
He is a muscular 255 pounds with lots of room to grow — and lots of veterans to jump over if he wants to see meaningful snaps this season.
Harrison notably was in the fourth group of linemen during a pursuit drill, but he also made an appearance on the No. 2 line (along with fellow true freshman Noah Potter, junior Antwuan Jackson and sophomore Tommy Togiai) when the defensive front lined up against the offensive front in another practice period.
4. The offensive line is starting out as expected — mostly.
Coach Greg Studrawa said late last season Josh Myers was ready to be the team’s starting center this year, and the sophomore from Miamisburg was anchoring the middle of the No. 1 line on day one.
Around him were guards Gavin Cupp and Wyatt Davis while Josh Alabi and Branden Bowen were the first-team tackles with Thayer Munford sidelined as he recovers from offseason surgery.
The second team consisted of tackles Max Wray and Nicholas Petit-Frere with Kevin Woidke and Ryan Jacoby at guard and Matthew Jones in the middle.
Woidke is a fifth-year senior recently put on scholarship after beginning his career as a walk-on from Cleveland St. Ignatius, Wray, Petit-Frere and Jones are redshirt freshmen and Jones is a true freshman.
Munford, the only returning starter from last season, battled multiple injuries last season and missed the Rose Bowl with an unidentified injury.
5. Brendan White pulled double-duty.
A junior who brought some stability and play-making ability to the safety position late last season, White might find himself playing closer to the line of scrimmage in 2019.
The 6-2, 215-pounder worked out with the linebackers during individual workouts but was still a deep safety during field work that included quarterbacks, receivers and a running back working against half the secondary.
White could be a candidate to play a hybrid linebacker/safety position that is expected to be part of the new defense being installed by coordinators Greg Mattison and Jeff Hafley.
“Brendon can do a bunch of different things, and I think one thing we’re challenging our defense with is finding what our guys can do best," Day said. "If it’s come down to cover, if it’s fit the run, matched up on a tight end, matched up on a running back — whatever those skills our guys have, just like on offense. You assess what you have and then you try to fit the best scheme into it. That’s the process, and it’s day one."