COLUMBUS, Ohio — Representatives from most — if not all — NFL teams will flock to Ohio State on Thursday as the football program holds its annual pro day under Urban Meyer.
A year after putting 14 players in the pros, the Buckeyes are expected to send at least five more this spring, making Ohio State’s pro day a can’t-miss stop for NFL front offices.
The Buckeyes won’t have to wait until later this week, however, for a pro presence to overtake the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Ohio State isn’t just an NFL factory; it’s becoming a pro-style program.
“Real close,” new Buckeyes quarterbacks coach Ryan Day answered when asked how Ohio State’s operation compares to a pro franchise. “First off, because the guys who are running around the field are like NFL players. From the skill guys to the guys up front, the guys here have done an unbelievable job recruiting.
“The talent level here is just like a lot of the NFL teams. And that’s what’s most impressive.”
The similarities don’t stop there. Take a look at the most recent hires on Meyer’s coaching staff and you’ll notice a trend.
If anybody is uniquely qualified to comment on the similarities between the Buckeyes and the NFL, it’s Day, who spent the past two years coaching on Chip Kelly’s staffs in Philadelphia and San Francisco. Ohio State and Meyer will rely on Day’s NFL experience to attract talent and develop it.
Joining Day on the Buckeyes staff this offseason was longtime NFL assistant Billy Davis, whose résumé includes 24 years coaching at the next level, with 10 different franchises.
An Ohio State quality control assistant a year ago, Davis admits that he’s still catching up to the nuances of the college game, like taking into account the threat of a quarterback run. But his vast NFL experience hasn’t been lost on his players, who are well aware of what the new assistant coach brings to the table.
“The first day, the first meeting, you could tell, this has to be an NFL meeting room,” said Buckeyes linebacker Jerome Baker. “The way he coaches and with his style, you can tell it’s geared toward pro athletes.”
For Meyer, that’s the goal, and between Day, Davis and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, Ohio State’s staff now possesses 31 years of NFL experience. That’s 31 more than the Buckeyes staff could have claimed just two years ago.
Over 3️⃣ decades of #NFL coaching experience lives on the Buckeye Football staff.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) January 13, 2017
A year ago, Ohio State asserted itself as one of the top pipelines to the pros, and with his most recent hires Meyer hopes to take the program to the next level. To simply prepare a player for the pros is no longer enough; the Buckeyes are holding themselves to an NFL standard.
“I’ve gotta be me,” Davis said of his transition to the college level. “I’ve got a long coaching background — I’ve just gotta be me.”
That’s exactly what Meyer hired Davis, Day — and their 26 years of NFL experience — to do.