Quarterback Lincoln Kienholz was a late, but welcome addition to Ohio State’s 2023 signing class.
When it comes to filling the most important position in sports, you better not screw it up. Six months ago, the Buckeyes had a commitment from 2023 Memphis quarterback Brock Glenn, as well as a commitment from Dylan Raiola, the top 2024 quarterback in the country.
But as the early signing day for the 2023 class approached at the end of the year, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis weren’t quite satisfied. They eventually zeroed in on Kienholz, a 4-star South Dakota quarterback who had been committed to Washington since the end of June.
Ohio State invited Kienholz out for an official visit for the Michigan game. A few days later, Glenn decommitted, opening up a need for a quarterback in the class. A few weeks after the visit, Kienholz decommitted from Washington and announced his commitment to the Buckeyes.
Kienholz, from Pierre, South Dakota, decided he wanted to be an Ohio State quarterback and join a room in 2023 that had two former 5-star quarterbacks in Kyle McCord and Devin Brown, and another slated to arrive in 2024 in Dylan Raiola.
“I think that’s where Lincoln was really into it and never flinched,” Day said back in December. “That’s just something that I really liked about him. He was like, ‘Oh, so I’ll go in that room. I’ll compete against anybody. Let’s go.’ That was– that’s awesome, and that’s something that I think we’re excited about and we’re looking forward to getting to work with him.”
Three days after Kienholz committed to being part of an extremely competitive quarterback room, Raiola decommitted in search of a new future home.
Kienholz was outstanding as a senior this past year, throwing for 3,422 yards and 46 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,435 yards and 24 touchdowns in leading his team to a third-consecutive state title. He threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns in this past season’s state title game, while also rushing for 121 yards and two more touchdowns. Kienholz ending up winning his third-consecutive Most Valuable Player award in the state championship game.
More than just a football player, however, Kienholz was also an all-state basketball player who averaged 19.9 points and 7.3 rebounds as a junior. On the baseball diamond, he batted .472 with six home runs and also went 3-0 with a 1.24 ERA. The stellar extracurriculars are one reason why Kienholz isn’t enrolling early. He still has unfinished business at T.F. Riggs High School, and Day is just fine with that.
“Yeah, it had a big impact,” Day said of Kienholz’s athletic versatility being a draw. “A multiple-sport athlete, and a very good multiple sport athlete. Played multiple sports, but played them very, very well. I liked the way he competed, liked his athleticism, liked his makeup when he came to visit us. He came here, saw the environment and was like, ‘I want this.’ And that’s a huge part of it.”
Buckeye fans got an early glimpse of Kienholz in the All-American Bowl earlier this month when he was the only quarterback on his team to lead the West squad to any actual points. His mobility was on display, but so was his downfield accuracy. He certainly showed the kinds of abilities that are needed by a big-time school that plays big-time games.
But Kienholz also got a good look at both the highs and lows of being a Buckeye quarterback.
“This isn’t for everybody,” Day said. “Being the starting quarterback for Ohio State is not for everybody.”
Kienholz has been made aware and is ready for what is next. And Day and company are thrilled to have him in the fold.
“It’s got some unbelievable things, but there’s a lot of things that come with it,” Day said of being a quarterback at Ohio State.
“He kind of looked at it and was like, ‘This is what I want.’ That was important. I liked his makeup. I thought Corey really did a great job building a relationship with he and his mom. And I think he saw the opportunity here. And you combine all those things together, we’re excited to have him.”