“It’s so early,” Day said. “Our guys haven’t put on pads yet, and really a great portion of our entire team, their first padded spring practice will be on Wednesday because we didn’t get pads last spring, so it’s exciting to see.”
Like any football coach, Day is excited about the coming of padded practices, but it’s an especially noteworthy milestone this year.
The Buckeyes did not make it that far last spring before spring drills were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
They also began practice in August with hopes of holding a 10-game regular season but weren’t allowed to put on the pads before the Big Ten called off fall sports.
Although the conference season began in late October, Ohio State ultimately played only eight games total, including three in the postseason.
Having games canceled denied players key opportunities to learn and improve, and practices were also impacted as players were in and out of the lineup because of COVID-19 protocols.
Although the team continues to adhere to protocols aimed at preventing the spread of the virus, this year Day is looking forward to as many signs of normalcy as he can find.
“We actually got outside today for team practice, which was nice,” Day said. “So it feels like things are somewhat getting back to normal.”
Having a relatively routine spring is key for the entire team, especially with a group of 15 mid-year enrollees having joined the team and last year’s freshmen still trying to make up for lost time.
“We’ve kind of felt like I’ve gotten to this point a few times where we’re just kind of getting going with the fundamentals and then we’ve had different shutdowns and different things get in our way, but now we’re really getting to the meat of it,” Day said. “And this is very, very important for us. It’s something that I think has hurt us. It’s set us back some as a program, and so we desperately need these practices. We’ve got to do a great job in the meetings and make sure that we’re continuing to improve our techniques and our fundamentals so that that foundation is there moving into the summer.”
Day revealed Monday one of Ohio State’s returning starters who is expected to play a key role this season is limited this spring.
Harry Miller, a five-star center recruit in the class of 2019, is expected to replace Josh Myers at that position this season after starting at guard last year.
However, Miller is among the group of players taking part in spring practice but being held out of contact while dealing with an unspecified injury.
Day previously said multiple players would be limited this spring while recovering from injuries, which is not uncommon.
The spring roster Ohio State released Monday included one surprise “super senior.”
While Thayer Munford, Marcus Williamson, Haskell Garrett and Antwuan Jackson had already announced they would be taking advantage of the NCAA’s granting a free year of eligibility as a result of the pandemic, it turns out Demario McCall will as well.
A 5-foot-9, 195-pounder from North Ridgeville, McCall was a four-star prospect in the class of 2016 and the No. 3 prospect in Ohio according to 247Sports Composite rankings.
After showing hints of electric open-field running ability as a freshman, he has bounced back and forth between running back and receiver in his five seasons in Columbus but never carved out a long-term role.
“It hasn’t always gone exactly the way Demario’s wanted his career to go, and we’ve tried to find him a role in the offseason,” Day said. “He’s tried some different things, and so we’ll continue to look to find that, but if he continues to work the way he does and keep a great attitude, good things are gonna are gonna happen for him.”
Also listed as “super seniors,” a coin termed by the Associated Press, are walk-ons Corey Rau and Bradley Robinson.
Ran is a tight end who transferred from SMU last year while Robinson is a long snapper from Troy, Mich.
“There’s a quite a few guys that fit that role, and I think it says a lot about their relationships with their teammates and how much they love Ohio State,” Day said.