COLUMBUS – It is quarterback competition season.
This is not something unique to Ohio State as both Georgia and Alabama are going about the same thing that the Buckeyes are. All these schools are looking to replace highly successful quarterbacks who will be drafted at the end of April with quarterbacks who are big on promise and short on game reps.
It is a two-man race for all intents and purposes at Ohio State with Kyle McCord and Devin Brown both vying to step in for CJ Stroud who leaves after a two-year run as Ohio State’s starter.
But you already knew that. This is not a new story and there may not be a bigger storyline going into spring ball 2023.
It is difficult to remember the last time that Ohio State really had an open quarterback competition. Was it the year that Dwayne Haskins Jr. and Joe Burrow battled for the spot?
After a line of quarterbacks that include Stroud, Justin Fields and Haskins, the stage could not be any bigger and the bright lights could not be any hotter. Every single throw, every single read, and every single moment will be looked at, analyzed and discussed as Ohio State looks for its new starter.
“This is the best job in college football, being the quarterback at Ohio State,” second-year quarterback Devin Brown said. “There’s really nothing better, this is this is a top job. You are the head of college football, quarterback Ohio State, so I really have to lock in. My mindset is (that) I want to do everything possible to take this over.”
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day shocked many observers when he said that he wanted to have a starter by the end of spring, if possible, but we could be reading into that too much. We know there will be an open competition along the way, but it is anyone’s guess if we will know a winner when the 15-spring practice come to a conclusion with Ohio State’s spring game in mid-April.
In practice number one, each of the two candidates took their turns going out first for a drill, no edge was given to either signal caller and the spring will see this become the norm.
“Those guys are going to compete, and you’ll get a bunch of reps, and that’s what’s great,” Day said. “We’re running three groups right now, so there’s a lot of reps to go around. (We will go) just a couple days here and then we’ll go on (spring) break and then we’ll come back and really dig in.”
Many other positions on the football field lend themselves to platooning players, rotating players and spreading game snaps around. Quarterback is different. Some programs have found success with using two quarterbacks at times if their styles are opposite of one another. But that is the exception, not the norm.
With only one player coming out the other side of this thing as a starter, you would expect there to be a heated rivalry between McCord and Brown, but that is not the case.
Sure, both want to win the job, but they know that this competition is for the betterment of the team and the betterment of each of their games.
“I think it’s a very beneficial relationship on both sides,” third-year quarterback Kyle McCord said. “We both know what we’re going for. At the end of the day, it’s just a really good competition, and I think it’s bringing the best out of me and the best out of him as well.”
“Going against Kyle every day, really boosts my confidence and boosts my drive to try to get better every day,” Brown added. “I feel like I’m doing the same for him.”
One of the biggest questions that is being talked about is what happens to the quarterback who does not win the day one starting job. It is not unheard of needing more than one quarterback over the course of the season (2014 immediately comes to mind), but college careers are finite and there is not a lot of time.
McCord is going into year three and if this is not the year, does he wait it out with Brown having two more years of ‘club control’ in terms of being NFL Draft eligible?
What about if McCord wins the job, what does that mean for Brown? McCord could in theory be a one-year starter and done, opening the door for a 2024 run for Brown.
It certainly does not look like Brown is looking for the escape hatch if things don’t go right.
“I am a Buckeye through and through,” Brown said. “Obviously, I want to win the starting job so I just want to keep doing everything I can to do that.”
Plenty more on this saga coming up over the coming days here on weeks here on BuckeyeHuddle. Keep it locked in as we see how this competition evolves.