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Football: Buckeyes hope to have ‘some vision’ on next starting QB during competition this spring

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Ohio State enters next season with a quarterback controversy between first-year Devin Brown (15) and second-year Kyle McCord. Credit: Zachary Rilley | Photo Editor

The Buckeyes have a quarterback competition on their hands.

C.J. Stroud’s decision to enter the 2023 NFL Draft after his third season at Ohio State means head coach Ryan Day and the Buckeyes will look for their next signal-caller in advance of next season.

Enter quarterbacks second-year Kyle McCord and first-year Devin Brown, who both have an “unbelievable opportunity” to compete for the starting position, Day said Wednesday , and he feels that players today “couldn’t be more excited to be quarterback right now” in college football.

“It’s going to be a heck of a competition,” Day said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing it. They both have a little bit of a different skill set, and it’s going to be fun to watch them compete this spring.”

McCord and Brown both backed up Stroud this past season, and the former has one more season within the Buckeyes program.

A pro-style quarterback and former four-star recruit, according to Rivals , McCord has appeared in 12 games and started one, coming against Akron in Week 4 of the 2021 season . He’s thrown for 606 yards and three touchdowns, relying more on his arm than his legs with -12 net rushing yards in his career.

Brown boasts a similar, yet different, resume, also being recruited as a four-star, pro-style quarterback, according to Rivals . He appeared briefly in two games during his freshman season, rushing for one yard against Toledo in Week 3 and seeing time again against Rutgers Week 5.

While the Buckeyes will have to determine rep distribution this spring, and both McCord and Brown earned reps during Peach Bowl practice while S troud attended the Heisman Trophy ceremony among other opportunities after the end of the regular season, Day said it would help Ohio State to have a more clear idea of who could be the starter before summertime.

“I hope that one of them emerges, and we can name a starter,” Day said. “I’m hoping that can happen. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. But some vision on who the starter is coming out of the spring would be nice, so hoping that one of them emerges here in these 15 practices.”

Offseason workouts will take place leading up to Ohio State’s first spring practice in March. Quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis believes being around strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti will help Buckeyes like McCord and Brown get opportunities to develop intangible skills and become better leaders, he said.

While there isn’t a night and day difference between McCord and Brown, Dennis said , he hopes traits, such as commanding a room and leading teammates, will be present in an Ohio State quarterback who can get the job done on the field, too.

“I think just right now at this point is just, ‘How can you be vocal?’” Dennis said. “The great ones that we’ve had here at Ohio State, you knew exactly when Justin Fields walked into a room. You knew when J.T. [Barrett] walked into a room. You know when C.J. walked into a room. And I think that just letting them feel you is good.”

Ohio State is no stranger to high-level quarterback competition in recent seasons.

Former quarterbacks Cardale Jones and Barrett battled for the starting spot prior to the 2015 season, which saw the former earn the starting job in preseason practice.

Before the 2018 season, the late Dwayne Haskins and former Buckeyes quarterback Joe Burrow competed to be the starting signal caller. Haskins won the competition and led a record-breaking campaign as an Ohio State quarterback, setting 28 program and seven Big Ten records, while Burrow transferred to LSU.

Fields ultimately earned the starting quarterback spot after transferring from Georgia prior to the 2019 season, and Stroud won the spot in the preseason in 2021 , which also saw McCord as part of the competition.

This time around provides the latest competition before the fall season, and Day and the Buckeyes want to evaluate more than on-field skill sets in seeking their next starting quarterback.

“The guy who’s the leader — there’s a lot of different ways to do it — and is competitively tough, is going to ultimately win the job,” Day said.

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