Quinn Ewers, the No. 1 quarterback in the 2022 Class according to 247Sports is officially a Buckeye. After conversations with the ULI — the high school athletics governing body in Texas — led to a decision that Ewers could not use his NIL rights to make money while still a high school athlete, the QB decided to reclassify into 2021 class and enroll immediately upon his early graduation at Ohio State.
There are a million ways to look at this story, but many media outlets have taken it to mean that Ewers has automatically become the future at Ohio State’s quarterback position. The talent is immense, being both the No. 1 rated player in the 2022 class and now in the 2021 class backs that up. For many, Ewers is regarded as the best QB prospect since Trevor Lawrence, and we all know how that turned out.
Whether it’s the talent, the mullet, the recruiting ranking, or his signature confidence, Ewers has thrown as wrench into the Ohio State quarterback room and there will undoubtedly be casualties. Ohio State currently has four highly rated quarterbacks in the group, all of whom are freshman, C.J. Stroud and Jack Miller are both four-star redshirt freshman from the 2020 cycle, while Kyle McCord and Quinn Ewers are five-star true freshman from the 2021 class. With all this talent, lack of experience, and the limitation to only start one quarterback at a time, three guys are going to lose the job, and some will almost certainly transfer.
So, if we start with the assumption that Ewers does not win the job this year due to his late start and major learning curve, it is safe to assume that this year’s starter will have the edge moving forward. Now if Ewers is everything that he is believed to be and can win the job in 2022 — supplanting the incumbent starter — that changes everything.
Most Buckeye fans believe that Stroud will win the job this year; with Ewers in the fold that leaves Miller and McCord as the most likely candidates to transfer and seek greener pastures and a starting job at another university.
Well, here at Land-Grant Holy Land, we like to challenge the status quo and bring Buckeye fans the content and perspectives that you won’t find at other Ohio State sites, and this is why I’m here to tell you not to count out Kyle McCord.
On the latest episode of “Buck Off” podcast, I made a prediction that McCord will be a starting QB for the Buckeyes either in 2021 or 2022. This means that he would have to now beat out both Stroud and Ewers, a task that could scare any freshman quarterback or any player in the country.
There are a few ways that McCord’s career could have went and I must admit that this is not the best option. In my opinion, McCord’s best route to being a starter would have started with Miller transferring in the spring, leaving a competition between just Stroud and McCord. In this scenario, McCord either wins the job or he is the back up in 2021, and when Stroud likely leaves following 2022, McCord will have had two years as the backup having had ample actual game experience, and is the heir apparent in 2023.
Since that did not happen, believe it or not, but I think that having Ewers reclassify is actually the next best opportunity for McCord. At Big Ten Media Days, Ryan Day talked about getting J.T. Tuimoloau physically ready to play, stating, “He’s got to be physically ready, because there’s a lot that goes into that.
“We will be working with him through the preseason and then see where he’s at in the first game or two. There’s a long way to January. It’s too early for any kind of talk about how he’s looked or anything like that, but he certainly has a lot of ability. He is special.”
If a 6-foot-5, 275-pound defensive end who was rated the No. 3 ranked prospect in the 2021 class cannot arrive at Ohio State late and immediately see the field, then it is safe to assume that a quarterback would face a similar uphill journey.
It is significantly harder to be a starting quarterback than a situational pass rusher, and its for this reason that I think that — despite his lofty ranking — Ewers is not a legit option for the 2021 season.
So, how does this help McCord? Well McCord — the fifth ranked QB and the 27th overall player in the 2021 class — has been at OSU since January. He has had eight months to learn the offense, create a bond with his teammates, coaches, and maybe most importantly work with strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti.
Unless Ewers is head and shoulders better than McCord, and any other quarterback in the class, this gives McCord a chance to create momentum for himself. Ewers reclassifying means that McCord has a year to outperform Ewers directly in practice every day, which should give him the opportunity to build a head start in order to solidify him as the next Buckeye quarterback. Ewers is an immensely talented player, but he is still recovering from a sports hernia surgery and could have benefited from a fully healthy senior year in high school.
None of this could matter, maybe I wasted my time writing this and you wasted your time reading it, but I believe that losing a year of high school football and immediately competing with someone who played all four years, has an eight-month advantage in the program, and is a five-star quarterback in his own right is not the best situation for Ewers to come into. I believe that McCord will enter this season with a sizable advantage and will get to compete against Ewers directly — rather than against hype-train that comes with the top recruit in the country.
McCord’s first goal should be to beat out Stroud for the starting job, but if that does not happen, his goal should be to come to work and outperform Ewers every single day. Once you get that black stripe, your recruiting ranking doesn’t matter; what you did in high school in null and void. All that matters is what you do on the field, in the weight room, and in meetings; and Kyle McCord should have an ample head start in all three areas.
Ultimately, I trust Ryan Day’s development and decision making; the best quarterback will undoubtedly play this season and beyond. Ohio State is not going to fall off and stop being a national championship contender because of this decision. It may be hard to see these talented players leave and succeed other places — a la Joe Burrow — but Day will choose who is best for the program.
All I’m saying is let’s not forget about Kyle McCord. I — for one — will not be surprised if he beats out Stroud, Ewers, and Miller to become Ohio States starting quarterback in a few weeks’ time.