An unusual Thanksgiving, but Ohio State football team remains grateful

Bill Rabinowitz
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State coach Ryan Day said he's proud of his players and coaches and his family for persevering through difficult times this year.

It was a Thanksgiving like no other for the Ohio State football team, but the Buckeyes made the best of it.

The pandemic meant that even local players didn’t go home for a big meal with their families. The Buckeyes have pretty much lived in isolation for months, spending virtually all of their time at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center or their dorm or apartment.

Center Josh Myers said last week that he hadn’t been anywhere but the Woody or his apartment since August. Even coaches are spending little time with their families to safeguard against catching the coronavirus.

So on Thursday, the Buckeyes had a team Thanksgiving meal – socially distanced – after their practice.

Ohio State is used to Thanksgiving being overshadowed by something more pressing. For the past decade, the Michigan game has been played two days after the holiday. Eating turkey has taken a back seat to beating the stuffing out of the Wolverines.

“Thanksgiving is football when you’re at Ohio State,” coach Ryan Day said. Because of the schedule changes this year, Ohio State plays Illinois instead of Michigan this week.

It has been a difficult year requiring sacrifice, but the Buckeyes say the adversity has given them more reason to be appreciative.

“I’m certainly grateful for my family and everything they've done to support me personally during this time,” Day said. “I have not been around much. It's been very difficult on them. It's a major sacrifice.

“I’m grateful for the players and the coaching staff who have also sacrificed so much to be away from their families, grateful to be a part of such a great family that’s stuck together and worked through a crazy year.”

Day also expressed gratitude to his players for the maturity they’ve shown.

“I'm proud of the way that this team has stuck together and worked through and made such great sacrifices,’ he said. “You look back on the season and there’s been just so many things and it was handled with class (by) the players, the coaches, the administration. I'm just very honored to be the head coach of the Buckeyes.”

Special day for Myers

Myers wore No. 50 last week against Indiana last week instead of his normal No. 71 in memory of his late grandfather.

He kept it a secret until shortly before the game to surprise his grandmother.

“Oh, she was excited,” Myers said. “She told me she went through about a whole box of tissues. I think one of the cool things about it is many people, especially from my hometown (Miamisburg), know my grandma and knew my grandfather. So many people were reaching out to both her and me, which was really cool. And it was just a really special moment for both of us.”

All-white uniforms

Ohio State will wear alternate all-white uniforms on Saturday. Day said he had no input on the decision.

“We did show it to the team,” he said. “Jonathon Cooper was the model for the all-white uniforms. I told the guys, ‘If you’re going to wear white, you have to play fast.’ ”