The Buckeyes landed a huge commitment over the weekend with the transfer of quarterback Julian Sayin, who had originally signed to play at Alabama. With Nick Saban’s retirement, Sayin entered the transfer portal and will be a Buckeye.
“Incredibly excited to join the team here at Ohio State,” Sayin told ESPN on Sunday. “I held this program in high regard throughout my entire recruiting process and am looking forward to learning from some of the most talented players and coaches in college football and contributing to our team’s success.”
The top-rated quarterback in the 2024 class, Sayin arrives to find his position group full of talent. He joins fourth-rated 2024 quarterback Air Noland, returners Devin Brown and Lincoln Kienholz, and Kansas State transfer Will Howard.
Ryan Day obviously wants to find the best quarterback to run his offense, and adding Sayin is sure to have at least a few ripple effects.
Howard seems likely to be the starter in 2024. He had options and chose to transfer to Ohio State, so that would indicate he’s the man to beat for the job, especially with his experience advantage.
Howard posted similar numbers at Kansas State to what Kyle McCord produced at Ohio State last year, but the transfer will now have a much better supporting cast. Because Howard only has one year of eligibility, his arrival alone was not likely to send anyone into the transfer portal.
But Sayin’s arrival changes the future landscape of Day’s quarterback room. That’s not a reason not to gladly accept his commitment. After all, a great quarterback can elevate a team and help it reach greater heights. But with five quarterbacks now in the group, snaps for some of them will be hard to come by for a while.
The most obvious future ramification comes down to Sayin vs. Noland in terms of who can gain an advantage over the other incoming freshman. It’s unlikely both Sayin and Noland finish their careers at Ohio State. One of them will likely depart to become the leader somewhere else — assuming, of course, that both young signal callers adapt to the college game and excel.
That probably won’t happen this spring, and both will likely redshirt while Howard leads the Buckeyes in 2024.
Brown seems the likely candidate to become the primary backup in 2024, and the favorite to become QB1 in 2025, but there are no guarantees there. With the pedigrees that Sayin and Noland arrive with, it wouldn’t be the biggest shock if both quickly rose up the depth chart and started pressing Brown and Kienholz.
While that may not happen during the upcoming spring, it will be interesting to see if both Brown and Kienholz stay in Columbus when the transfer portal opens again.
Day would no doubt like them both to return, giving him some coverage in case something happens to Howard (again, assuming he wins the starting job over Brown). Neither has much experience, but they’ve both been in the program and have a leg up on the freshmen. Both are likely to play in the second halves of blowout games, earning more experience in 2024 and getting chances to make their case for a post-Howard world.
But there is a possibility that Brown or Kienholz (or even both) will transfer out after the spring. The latter scenario would be less than ideal, leaving Ohio State with a pair of true freshmen backing up Howard. If Brown does transfer out, Howard had better stay healthy and Day must accelerate the learning curve of his freshmen. If Kienholz leaves, things look a little less bleak if something happens to the winner of the Howard/Brown battle.
Looking ahead a couple of years, after Howard has left the program, it seems unlikely that both Brown and Kienholz will be here, and even less likely that both Sayin and Noland will still be Buckeyes. This is the age of the portal, and the landscape can change quickly. That will require Ohio State to continue recruiting the position well, and perhaps Day will have to revisit the portal for depth.
Any way you look at it, it’s a great “problem” to have. Too much talent? There’s no such thing.