Dwayne Haskins knew exactly what he was doing.
At 10:47 a.m. On Saturday, he entered the Ohio stadium for the spring game through the same doors he had spent 364 days earlier. But instead of the scarlet cropped sweatshirt, headband, headphones around the ears, the backpack and the gray football pants rolled up with the pads underneath that he had worn last year, Haskins donned a black sweatshirt with a pair of trousers Black and a clock worthy of a Soon will be the first-round quarterback of the NFL. And instead of turning the knee brace around his right hand as he made his way to the locker room, he had his right arm around Justin Fields.
The photographers took pictures of the marshals duo. The reporters captured videos of them smiling and chatting as they walked together to the stadium.
A complete and total show. Exactly what Ryan Day expected. And things were growing.
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Even when Urban Meyer is nowhere to be found, Ohio State managed to turn the spring game into what sometimes, in the early afternoon, looked more like a recruiting show and a gathering of former players than a real football game. . A seemingly endless amount of high school prospects surrounded the field with dozens of NFL players.
Maximizing brand awareness is as important a task as anything for a college football coach in a Powerhouse program. While everything on the field on Saturday was aimed at preparing the Buckeyes for the 2019 season, what happened around them served to put the program in an advantageous position to advance.
The tunnel in the southeast corner of the Ohio stadium served as a de facto red carpet for the stars, or indeed, the four stars and the five stars.
First came a trio of commitments of 2020: the five-star offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr., four-star cornerback Lejond Cavazos and four-star quarterback Jack Miller.
Johnson, the No. 4 overall prospect in his clbad, has recently worried Ohio State fans, making a full tour of the SEC with visits to Tennessee, Alabama, LSU and Georgia. But every time the showman, the imposing lineman descended through the tunnel with Miller, the quarterback of the team's future, and Cavazos, who committed himself to the Buckeyes for the second time on Friday night.
Apparently, Johnson has flirted with the release of the state of Ohio due to Meyer's retirement, but remains in the clbad of 2020 for eight players. Miller, whose father is Meyer's friend, promised to play for the Buckeyes, in part because of the retired coach, but he still remains in the clbad. Cavazos actually fainted when Meyer announced his imminent retirement, but Day helped him return to the fold.
Meyer was not at the Ohio Stadium on Saturday. But those three prospects were, and they opened the floodgates.
Lejond Cavazos, Paris Johnson and Jack Miller are at the Ohio Stadium for the spring game. pic.twitter.com/f0LGNYyYhd
– Colin Hbad-Hill (@chbadhill) April 13, 2019
Cade Stover, a four-star Lexington linebacker, made an appearance along with 2020 player Jakob James, a three-star Cincinnati tackle. Trey Leroux, a three-star Norwalk tackle, entered the stadium.
Darrion Henry, a non-defended four-star Cincinnati defensive end, ventured through the tunnel 10 minutes after Johnson, a Cincinnatian teammate, arrived.
More and more kept coming.
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The five-star 2021 defensive end confirms Jack Sawyer. Najee Story, the ultimate goal of four stars of 2021. The four-star quarterback 2021, Kyle McCord. Four star open receiver for 2020, LV Bunkley-Shelton. Recipient of the four-star wide receiver for 2020 Marvin Harrison Jr. Wide four-star receiver for the 2020 Jaxon Smith-Njigba. The four-star offensive player 2021, Donovan Jackson. The 2021 four-star wide receiver is the goal of Jayden Ballard. Five Star Center 2019 Harry Miller signatory. The 2021 linebacker of four stars is the goal of Yanni Karlaftis. The four-star linebacker of 2021 Reid Carrico, who received an offer from the Buckeyes on the Saturday before the spring game.
And that's just a sample of the procession of prospects. They messed up the field before the game.
Sawyer and Henry stood on the grbad to watch the defensive linemen warm up. Stover talked with Sam Hubbard. Jack Miller walked to the field with Haskins to stand with Justin Fields and Matthew Baldwin while they warmed up.
Everyone made the trip to Columbus to see the Buckeyes play their first game of the Day era, so Ohio State made sure they tested the power of the stars by hosting as many players as possible.
During a timeout in the first half, a group of players from last year's team – Haskins, Dre & # 39; Mont Jones, Johnnie Dixon, Michael Jordan, Mike Weber, Terry McLaurin, Isaiah Prince and a few others – went into midfield to receive your Big Ten Championship Party, part of the Rose Bowl rings.
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Braxton Miller, Ezekiel Elliott, Curtis Samuel, Malik Hooker, Ted Ginn Jr. and Michael Thomas brought the charm. A pair of recent first-round picks from the NFL, Marshon Lattimore and Denzel Ward, were joined by Pat Elflein, a former winner of the Rimington Trophy. Bobby Carpenter worked as a side reporter for Big Ten Network, and Eddie George was the honorary captain of the team.
Parris Campbell, Curtis Samuel, Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon. pic.twitter.com/2rUDvzIEjt
– Colin Hbad-Hill (@chbadhill) April 13, 2019
It is possible that the Buckeyes had enough former players present to be part of a complete team, but they were not there to participate in the game. Ohio State wanted to be recruited in Columbus, just by its presence attracts future talents who hope to be the next version of the professionals.
"Mike Thomas came to my office yesterday and had a recruit there, and he spent 15-20 minutes with us talking about what that means and the NFL and the sisterhood that they have from Ohio State Buckeyes in the NFL, and then those guys come back and support those who are here now, "Day said. "It's a special group, you can see it, you go around, you go from one man to another, it's not just the former Buckeyes, it's the big guys in the NFL, it's the big Buckeyes and the All-Americans, players from all the conferences. It is simply extraordinary. " When you move with those guys, the excellence you're with. "
Before the game was over, photos of the recruits posing with former Ohio State players began to appear on social media.
This was crazy … I had the opportunity to meet @Cantguardmike A couple of times this week. Someone whom I admire as a player and as a person. Appreciate the encouraging words. Unforgettable moment. # Zone6 #GoBucks pic.twitter.com/5c5H3HSS6V
– Marvin Harrison Jr. (@MarvHarrisonJr) April 13, 2019
Meyer understood the recruiting game. Everything, including the spring game, became a showcase for recruitment. Anything for prospects to be interested in while building the Ohio State football brand and winning or preparing to win games.
The day followed Meyer's leadership on Saturday. He invited the former Buckeyes and the best recruits to observe the current team, a formula with proven success.
Winning, ultimately, will determine where the program ends. But by combining past, present and future, Day did what she could to make Ohio State a desirable program in her first game, even if it was just an exhibition.