Devin Brown Ohio State Buckeyes Quarterback

If Quarterbacks Don’t Want To Compete, Ohio State Is Not The Right Place For Them

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For the first time in Ryan Day’s eight years at Ohio State, he has five scholarship quarterbacks on his roster. The goal each year is four, and right now the Buckeyes are awash in QB talent.

What they aren’t, however, is awash in experience as a starting quarterback in Ohio State’s offense.

Redshirt sophomore Devin Brown returns. He got the start in the Cotton Bowl loss against Missouri, but left the game in the first half with an ankle injury. Brown is back and healthy, so he will be full-go for spring practice in four weeks.

Redshirt freshman Lincoln Kienholz also returns. He filled in when Brown went down against the Tigers. The Buckeyes went to the transfer portal and added Kansas State’s Will Howard, who started 27 games in his Wildcats career. Those three will also be joined by true freshmen Air Noland and Julian Sayin, who were both five-star prospects in the 2024 recruiting class.

The thought by many is that Howard will be the Buckeyes’ starter in 2024. Howard is approaching things that way, which is how Day wants all of his quarterbacks to prepare.

“Listen, Will came here to play football, so I hope that’s his mentality,” Day said on Wednesday. “And I hope all of our guys have that mentality. He’s gonna learn the offense and get going, but he’s done a great job so far.”

Five For Fighting

Only three times in Day’s OSU career has he been able to hit his preferred number of four scholarship quarterbacks, and it hasn’t gotten any easier with the transfer portal and NIL being what they are.

So what’s it like now having five guys?

“Yeah, we had to bring in some extra chairs, I guess,” he said. “But it’s good. I think it’s healthy. And we say this all the time in recruiting — if you don’t want to compete, Ohio State’s probably not the right place for you. It makes everybody in that room better.”

When spring practice gets underway next month, Day and his offensive coordinator will need to make sure the quarterbacks get enough work to build on as they move forward into the summer and then fall camp.

Last year in fall camp, they had two full fields going at the same time so that quarterbacks Devin Brown and Kyle McCord would be able to fully compete for the job while also getting up to speed on running the OSU offense. That situation may not happen this spring because these 15 practices are much more about the individual improving than the team building towards the season opener.

But there will still be a plan that involves both quality and quantity.

“When you have the quarterback room that we have, we’re going to get a bunch of team reps to make sure we’re developing these guys and they are learning the offense,” Day said. “And for Devin, he probably has the most experience, but Lincoln really doesn’t have a ton. He hasn’t even gone through a spring yet. Will’s brand new to the offense. Air and Julian are in the same boat. So we need to get these guys as many reps as we possibly can.”

Competition Is A Draw, Not A Drawback

Until spring ball gets underway, the quarterbacks will be in the meeting room, the team room, the weight room, and on the field throwing to their teammates. So far, Day likes what he has seen in terms of the dynamic among the quarterbacks. They get along. They “look like they like hanging out together,” according to Day.

Spring practice is a month away but the competition is 100 percent already underway. The same dynamic that Day has seen in the quarterback room will need to permeate the rest of the team as well. That happens in the winter and summer in the weight room with strength coach Mickey Marotti. The quarterback who does that the best will have a leg up on everybody else.

“A big part of the quarterback play here is what goes on in that weight room with Coach Mick,” Day said. “The leadership. The way that the guys work, you have to build credibility amongst your teammates. That’s a big part of it. We talk to the quarterbacks about this all the time. Talked to CJ [Stroud], when he first went to the NFL and he was like, ‘You have to endear yourself into that building and you have to earn the respect of the guys in the building.'”

Both Will Howard and Devin Brown are doing that, and as the most experienced quarterbacks on the roster, that’s not a surprise.

There is a long way to go before a starting quarterback is named, but whoever wins the job will have done so on and off the field. And they will have come through a competition that never once felt like a bad reason to become a Buckeye.

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