Carnell Tate Ohio State Buckeyes Wide Receiver

Ohio State Football Notebook: ‘He’s been ready since he was in high school’

Buckeye Through And Through

As a redshirt freshman last year, Ohio State quarterback Devin Brown battled in fall camp against Kyle McCord for the starting job. It was close throughout, but McCord ultimately pulled away and won the spot.

With McCord transferring after the loss to Michigan last season, it was Brown who got the start in the Cotton Bowl against Missouri. Unfortunately, that game didn’t go as planned for Brown because he suffered an ankle injury in the first half.

What could have been the audition he was hoping for turned out to be the kind of unforgiving circumstances that sports love to provide.

Still, without McCord returning for his senior season, that meant Brown was stepping right to the front of the Ohio State quarterback line. And then OSU head coach Ryan Day went into the transfer portal and landed Kansas State quarterback Will Howard.

Now Brown and Howard, along with redshirt freshman Lincoln Kienholz, will compete for the job.

How did Brown take the news of the Howard transfer?

“That’s Ohio State,” he said. “I mean, you’re always gonna have the best players no matter what. I didn’t care coming in here who was in here. I’ve never cared who’s in here. I mean, I’ve said it from the start, I could care less. I’m going to come and compete. And that’s always been my motto.”

The Ohio State football facility is known for having a countdown clock ticking down to the Michigan game every year, but it also seems some people have a countdown clock for when Devin Brown will be hitting the transfer portal.

The nature of college football today continues to fuel the questions about whether or not Brown is going to stick it out at Ohio State.

“I’ve said it through and through — I’m a Buckeye and I’m here to compete no matter what,” he said.

Why do some people find it so hard to believe?

“Honestly, I think people are cowards,” Brown said. “I think people have this thought in their own heads that I’m gonna leave and I’m a quitter. But that’s never been me. I mean, these people live wherever, in their mom’s basement, saying stuff about me and they don’t know shit. Excuse my language. But they don’t know anything. They don’t know who I am, they don’t know who I’ve been, and that’s always who I’ve been.”

You Like Me! You Really Like Me!

Much has been written and said about the number of NFL-ready players who have chosen to return to Ohio State this year. Much has also been made of the factor that Name, Image, and Likeness has played in assembling this year’s Buckeye football team.

Like most talented college football players, many Buckeyes are now able to benefit from their names, but that’s not the only thing that brought them back this year.

“They’ve got unfinished business,” said Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. “But all of that overused word ‘culture,’ I think one of the examples is when guys like that come back. Because they want to still be a part of it, and they also think it can help them.”

The fact that players like Jack Sawyer, JT Tuimoloau, Denzel Burke, and many others are putting off the NFL millions for one more year at Ohio State is also a statement of the trust they have in the OSU coaching staff, which isn’t lost on Knowles.

“You know, it’s humbling because you’re in it because you want to have an effect on the players and their development,” he said. “And when they come back, and they have a chance to move on, it shows you that that they’re happy to be here. Take everything out of the equation, it means they’re happy to be here and they believe in me and the coaches and the defense and they think that we can make them better and keep growing them.”

Four Of A Kind

With the departure of starting receivers Marvin Harrison, Jr. and Julian Fleming from last year’s Buckeye football team, there are two starting jobs available this year as spring practice gets underway.

One of those spots is almost certainly going to go to sophomore Carnell Tate. He was in the rotation last year as a true freshman and has carried high expectations with him for a while now.

Fellow sophomore Brandon Inniss is also going to be in the mix for a starting spot. Both players came in as five-star prospects, and both are competitive in all aspects.

“If you hear them talking in the weight room, you’d think they weren’t friends sometimes,” said senior receiver Emeka Egbuka. “But that’s part of what makes them great.”

The competitive nature of Inniss and Tate harkens back to Egbuka and Harrison, who came in together and became stars as sophomores. They pushed each other every day. They did it a little more quietly, however.

“The way Marv and I, our personalities work, we’re not too outspoken about it,” Egbuka explained. “But we’re the kind of dudes, if we take an L in a rep to each other, it’s kind of eating at us on the inside. It’s something that we’re gonna hold in for a couple of weeks. There’s still a couple of reps from freshman year that I wish I could have got over on him. So yeah, there’s two different personalities behind it, but both are super competitive in nature.”

The personalities of the two sophomores have been seen on the practice field, just as the talent has. In fact, Harrison famously said a year ago that Tate was basically a year ahead of himself developmentally.

Egbuka isn’t necessarily disagreeing.

“He’s always been ready,” Egbuka said of Tate. “He’s been ready since he was in high school.”

And while much of the talk this spring has been about freshman wide receiver Jeremiah Smith, people may not want to forget about Inniss, who was viewed by many as the top receiver in the 2023 recruiting class.

“Yeah, I mean, Brandon doesn’t get enough praise,” Egbuka said. “He’s just as mature as anybody I’ve ever seen, how he handles his business. He’s super competitive too.

“I’m super excited for Brandon’s future. He’s wise beyond his years. He’s learned the offense. Lightning quick. He’s very talented. Pass catcher, run after the catch, big play. There’s nothing he can’t do.”

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