COLUMBUS — The last time Ohio State football coach Ryan Day had to choose a new starting quarterback, he was in a unique situation.
None of the three competitors had even thrown a pass in a college football game, and C.J. Stroud, Jack Miller III and Kyle McCord had seen few (if any) snaps, either.
This time around, the battle between McCord and Devin Brown figures to be more conventional.
In McCord, Day has a two-year backup who has played in 12 games, including seven last season when he completed 16 of 20 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown.
The 6-foot-3, 222-pounder started a game in 2021 when Stroud sat to rest a sore shoulder, so McCord appears to enter the race with a lead, but no one seems to be writing off Brown.
He was a highly regarded prospect when he enrolled a year ago and saw action in two games last fall.
The 6-3, 210-pounder reputedly brings more mobility to the table than McCord, a rifle-armed drop-back passer.
Day confirmed the ability to extend plays is something he values, particularly after seeing it on display from multiple quarterbacks in the NFL playoffs and even Stroud in Ohio State’s Peach Bowl loss to Georgia on Dec. 31.
“I think when you identify the most successful quarterbacks in NFL right now, and then in college football, I think all of them can can extend and help the offensive line by creating plays,” Day said. “I mean, just watch these (NFL) games on Sunday here as we get into the playoffs and into the Super Bowl. These guys can all move. They can create, and I think when you have a young offensive line, that’s a great way to be able to help them.”
However, the coach did not indicate mobility would be the deciding factor in the race.
More important is leadership ability for a player who figures to be surrounded by veteran skill players with the return of receivers Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka, running backs TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams and tight end Cade Stover.
“I think at the end of the day, both of them do things a little bit different in their skill sets, but the guy who’s the leader — there’s a lot of different ways to do it — and is competitively tough, that’s who’s going to ultimately win the job,” Day said.
He liked what he saw from Brown in his first year on campus, especially when he got some extended run in December while Stroud was gone for the Heisman Trophy ceremony, but he praised McCord for his growth over the past two years.
“His attitude’s been excellent,” Day said of McCord. “He’s very hard working, so now it’s time to go put it on the field and compete.”
Compete figures to be the word of the spring around the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
“They’re gonna get a bunch of reps and compete, and you try to do the best you can to look at other statistics like the completion percentage and there’s a lot that goes with that, but at the end of the day, it’s got to be the guy that our team believes in, that the coaching staff believes in that can lead our team to a championship,” Day said.
“That’s not always clear. Sometimes it can be a little gray, but you do the best you can.”
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