COLUMBUS, Ohio — On the surface, Ryan Day’s recruiting resume is rather mundane.
According to his 247Sports coaching profile, Ohio State’s new quarterbacks coach has never successfully led the recruitment on a player ranked higher than 188th in the country. Having spent the last two seasons in the NFL, Day’s most recent experience at the college level came at Boston College, where he served as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014.
Of the two classes Day helped recruit at Boston College, neither ranked higher than 52nd nationally or 11th in the ACC. Suffice to say, he has plenty to prove on the recruiting trail in his new gig.
That’s not to say, however, Day isn’t capable of enhancing the recruiting efforts of the Buckeyes, who signed the nation’s second-ranked 2017 class two weeks ago. Day, 37, is the second-youngest assistant on Ohio State’s staff and his NFL experience should be attractive to targets.
But perhaps Day’s best pitch to Buckeye prospects will be the result of one his personal friendships. After all, there aren’t many NFL players more famous than Matt Ryan these days.
“Matt and I are still really close to this day,” Day said during an appearance on the Urban Meyer Call-In Show on signing day. “He’s a special guy, for sure.”
As a graduate assistant on Tom O’Brien’s BC staff in 2003, Day has been privy to a unique perspective on the reigning NFL MVP’s career. A 3-star prospect, Ryan arrived at Boston College as the nation’s 698th-ranked recruit and seemed to lack much upside at the college level — let alone in the NFL.
“His redshirt freshman year, we weren’t sure he was going to play. We weren’t sure he could do it,” Day recalled. “But then he found his way through. Everybody has his own path.”
Ryan’s path included being pulled in and out of the Eagles lineup as a freshman. He took over as Boston College’s starting signal-caller midway through his sophomore season. By the time Day returned as the team’s wide receivers coach in 2007, following stints at Florida and Temple, Ryan had emerged as one of the country’s top quarterbacks.
The Atlanta Falcons selected Ryan with the third overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. This past season, he earned MVP honors before leading the Falcons to Super Bowl LI.
Having spent three seasons with Ryan at BC, Day’s sales pitch as it pertains to the star signal-caller likely will center around the evolution of ‘Matty Ice’. Inheriting a loaded quarterback depth chart, questions from prospects inevitably will arise regarding potential playing time at Ohio State.
Day, however, can point to Ryan as proof that if you’re good enough, you’ll find a way to get on the field.
“That’s the thing for quarterbacks that they all have to understand,” Day said. “Especially here, these guys are recruited at a high level. But most of the quarterbacks, it takes time for them to work through it. Everybody has their own path. Some guys jump in right away, others it takes time. (Ryan’s) is one that took some time.”
Proving that to his players may wind up being the most important part of Day’s job.
While Day’s recruiting territories include parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Atlanta, Jacksonville and of course, Ohio, his primary responsibility will be luring — and grooming — quarterbacks. In Ohio State’s 2018 class, Day inherited a commitment from 5-star quarterback Emory Jones. The Buckeyes’ current depth chart includes formerly highly touted prospects in J.T. Barrett, Joe Burrow, Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell.
Day has already made a positive impression on the group.
“He’s a laid-back guy,” Barrett said of Day. “(It’s) exciting as far as what we could be in the future.”
“I didn’t know much about him,” Martell admitted earlier this month. “But after talking to Coach Meyer, I was comfortable about it … he told me that no matter what, he was going to bring in the next best guy. And that’s what he did.”
How Day balances the quarterbacks he already has and the ones he’s trying to attract will be paramount to his success. His previous recruiting experience may be uninspiring, but the recruiting tools he has at his disposal are anything but.
That includes his experience with Ryan, who isn’t just one of football’s most famous players, but proof that the path to stardom isn’t always a conventional one.