This is the first month that freshman quarterback Lincoln Kienholz has been on the Ohio State campus. Unlike some players, Kienholz opted not to graduate early because he wanted to take part in both basketball and baseball as a senior. The multi-sport background is important to Kienholz, but quarterback is where his future lies.
Ranked the No. 15 quarterback in the 2023 class, the right-handed Kienholz (6-3 190), set numerous state passing records at T.F. Riggs High School in Pierre, South Dakota.
What To Like
Rather than enroll early, Lincoln Kienholz chose to stay at T.F. Riggs and finish out his high school athletic career. He wanted to win a state title in basketball and baseball. His Governors team fell short on the hardwood, but he was on the mound for all but the final out in a 2-0 state championship win for his baseball team four weeks ago. He would’ve finished out the game but he had reached the league’s 105-pitch limit with one out remaining.
Kienholz has also been the starting quarterback for three state championship football teams. Basically, the Buckeyes have a winner at quarterback who will do whatever is needed, and then do it well. His competitive nature is something that — according to his high school coach Steven Steele — he doesn’t know how to turn off.
There are also the tangible things to like, such as the fact that he threw for over 9,000 yards in high school while also rushing for over 3,000 yards. Kienholz is a multi-sport athlete who can use every bit of that athleticism on any given play.
For instance, here he is as a runner.
Obviously, it takes more than running ability to direct this Ohio State offense. No worries, because Lincoln Kienholz can make all of the throws — and put them where they need to be.
There isn’t much wind up on many of Kienholz’s throws because his arm is good enough to get it downfield. He also uses touch very well, and can drop a ball right over a receiver’s shoulder. When he throws a 50/50 ball, the odds are with him.
And when he needs to step into one, he can unload.
Lincoln Kienholz may very well be the only high school football player who has taken an official visit to both North Dakota State and Ohio State in the same calendar year.
Barring something very unforeseen, there shouldn’t be a need for him to play meaningful minutes this season. The Buckeyes already have a solid quarterback competition going with junior Kyle McCord and redshirt freshman Devin Brown. Seventh-year senior Tristan Gebbia is also on hand. Kienholz should still be able to get his requisite four games while redshirting.
The expectations, however, are that he eventually starts for the Buckeyes in two or three years, contends for conference and national titles, and walks away with some major individual hardware.
The Bottom Line
When you put all of it together — the arm strength, the accuracy, the ability to escape pressure to keep a play alive, and the unrelenting need to win — it is pretty easy to see why Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis are over the moon about Lincoln Kienholz.
He checks all of the boxes, except for maybe one — level of competition.
Even his high school coach had those same concerns, until he saw Kienholz thrive at the All-American Bowl this past winter in San Antonio. He was no longer a small-town South Dakota quarterback — he was every bit the All-American his jersey said he was.
The bottom line is that Lincoln Kienholz is a playmaker, and he’s going to give every last ounce of effort he has in order to try and make something good happen.
As evidenced right below.
Previous Closer Look editions
Wide Receiver Brandon Inniss | Tight End Jelani Thurman | Offensive Lineman Vic Cutler | Offensive Lineman Luke Montgomery | Defensive End Joshua Mickens | Defensive Tackle Kayden McDonald | Cornerback Jermaine Mathews, Jr. | Cornerback Davison Igbinosun | Safety Ja’Had Carter