Kyle McCord and Devin Brown are in the enviable position of battling to be Ohio State’s starting quarterback this season. They are also in the unenviable position of having to live up to the production of the likes of JT Barrett, Dwayne Haskins, Justin Fields, and CJ Stroud — the last three of whom were all Heisman finalists as the starting quarterback for the Buckeyes.
Head coach Ryan Day was hoping that one of the two would step forward and claim the job during the course of the 15 spring practices, but that didn’t happen. Especially since around practice 11 or so, Brown injured his hand and had to have surgery that will keep him out of action for the next four weeks.
Still, Brown feels good about what he put on film while he was on the field this spring.
“Yeah, I mean, obviously it sucked,” Brown said of missing the last week of spring ball. “But at the end of the day, I felt like I had a good few practices in spring, I think I had 10 practices, before this happened, I think was 11, something like that. But I felt like I had enough days. I still feel good about my spring.”
McCord and Brown split the reps with the ones and twos, as the duo went back and forth between “starter” and “backup” during practice. This was McCord’s third spring, compared to Brown’s second. Experience has been seen by most as McCord’s biggest advantage in the competition, but that’s only because he’s been putting in the work the entire time he’s been at Ohio State.
“I think every year you take a step in the right direction,” McCord said. “Whether that’s spring and then to fall camp, into the season, I think you learn a lot along the way. And I think you get out of it what you put into it. I think the more film you watch, the more reps you get, I think it just helps to take those steps. I feel pretty good, feel like I came a long way from where I was when I first got here. So I feel like I’m in a good spot right now.”
Should I Stay Or Should I Go?
There can only be one starting quarterback, and right now neither Kyle McCord or Devin Brown know who it’s going to be.
Five years ago, OSU quarterbacks Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow battled to a tie in the spring. Burrow, who had been at Ohio State for the three previous years, was tired of being a backup. When the job remained up for grabs following the spring of 2018, Burrow decided he wanted to go somewhere he was sure to start, so he transferred to LSU.
That history is pretty recent, which is why it continuously gets brought up when the 2023 quarterback competition is mentioned.
According to McCord and Brown, however, they don’t plan on leaving should the decision this fall not go their way.
“No. I mean, when I committed here, I made a promise to myself that I was just gonna come here and compete,” McCord said. “Guys can come, guys can go, but at the end of the day, I think if you’re confident in your work, confident in your game, you’re gonna be in a good spot, regardless of who they bring in. You’re at a place like Ohio State, you know they’re gonna bring in the best quarterbacks, you know they’re gonna bring in really good competition. And you have to earn it every single day.”
Brown has had essentially the same response every time it is brought up.
“Yeah, no, that’s never crossed my mind,” he said. “I’ve always been a guy that’s gonna stick to my word and stick to where I’m at. And I’ve always said from the beginning, I came here and I wanted to compete. And if that’s not how it goes, that’s how it goes. But I’m sticking around. I’m still a Buckeye. I want to do everything I can to help his team.”
So How’s Things?
One of the things that people forget when watching a quarterback competition from the comforts of a sterile environment is that there are still two actual human people carrying the figurative weight of the world on their shoulders, all in the quest for a whole bunch more weight.
With each snap in practice, Kyle McCord and Devin Brown exist in constant noise and motion, but have to find the silence and stillness in every play in order to make it work.
None of it is natural, and yet the guy who makes it look like it is will ultimately come away with the job.
“The competition’s been great. I mean, we both know what it is,” McCord said. “But I think at the end of the day, Devin is definitely making me better, and I think vice versa as well. So even though there’s not a winner of the job yet, I think that benefits both of us, honestly. I think it’s gonna push both of us going into fall camp, and there’s still a lot of time until the season. So I think just keeping each other hungry. I think he’d say the same thing. So I think that’s definitely the wise thing to do at this point, just keeping each other in check, keeping each other going.”
The message that both players are expressing is the same that they’ve been getting from their coaches. The best player is going to play, but nobody gets better on their own.
“Kyle hit it right on the head. We’re trying to get each other better every single day,” Brown said. “That’s all we can ask for is pushing each other, and I’d say Kyle would feel the same. When you’re with the best competition, you feel like you’ve got to play your best, you’ve got to bring it every day. But at the end of the day, we just want what’s best for the team and whoever’s gonna win the job is our guy.”