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Ohio State coach Ryan Day pleased by Justin Fields' preparation for national title game

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields gives a first bump to coach Ryan Day prior to the College Football Playoff semifinal against Clemson in New Orleans on Jan. 1.

MIAMI — Ohio State coach Ryan Day on Sunday praised star quarterback Justin Fields’ preparation for the College Football Playoff championship game against Alabama.

Day said Fields had gone through a good week of practice while recovering from a bruising hit to his torso in the team’s semifinal win over Clemson on New Year’s Day.

Ohio State football: 3 things to know Ohio State football quarterback Justin Fields

“He’s done a really good job of preparing,” Day said, “and I think that’s the thing that he felt like he did a good job going into the last game was preparing at a high level. He’s continued to do that this week.”

The status of Fields for the final on Monday night has rarely been in question. Three days following the Sugar Bowl, Day said he definitely expected the junior signal caller to be available against the Crimson Tide.

But details surrounding his recovery from the hit or its potential effect on him during the game have been limited.

On Thursday, Fields told reporters he wasn’t sure what to expect when he eventually stepped onto the field at Hard Rock Stadium in suburban Miami.

“I really haven't thought about how this injury is going to affect how I’m going to play,” he said. “I’m just thinking about getting as much treatment as possible and trying to get my body right so it’s 100% to be able to perform at a max level come Monday night.”

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ESPN’s Maria Taylor, who is working as a sideline reporter on the network’s broadcast of the title game, reported he will wear extra padding against Alabama.  

Late in this season, Fields has dealt with a variety of ailments. During the Big Ten championship game against Northwestern, he sprained the thumb on his right throwing hand and wore a wrist brace during the fourth quarter.

While dealing with the injured thumb two weeks later in the semifinal, he threw for career highs of 385 yards and six touchdowns.

In the aftermath of the victory over Clemson, Day has gushed about his resolve while dealing with the pair of injuries and several days ago called him “an unbelievable competitor.”

“I’ll just never forget that night,” Day said. “He's just tough.”

Will Waddle return?

Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle remains a game-time decision for the title game, coach Nick Saban said Sunday.

Sidelined since late October due to an ankle injury, Waddle returned to practice on Tuesday in preparation for a possible return and has been working out to “some degree” with the team.

“I think the biggest challenge is can he sustain in the game,” Saban said, “and it'll be a game-time decision as to whether he thinks he can play and go out there and do his job well enough to contribute to the team, and we won't know that until we get out there after pregame warmup.”

Waddle has missed the Crimson Tide’s last seven games after beginning the season as one of their top playmaking threats along with fellow receiver DeVonta Smith, who won the Heisman Trophy last week.

One Buckeye out

Miyan Williams, a freshman running back for the Buckeyes who spelled Trey Sermon in the Sugar Bowl, did not travel with the team to South Florida.

“I’m supposed to be in Miami,” Williams tweeted on Saturday night, along with a broken heart emoji.

He ran three times for 21 yards against Clemson. The Buckeyes’ backfield depth had been limited while Master Teague III was out with an undisclosed injury suffered in the Big Ten championship game.

The availability report for Ohio State is not expected to be released until close to kickoff of Monday night’s game.

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman