Ohio State’s spring challenge: To sort and retain a loaded QB room-ZoomTech News

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As Ohio State’s gamers progressed by way of warmups forward of their spring sport on Saturday afternoon, a digital camera crew meandered from one place group to a different gathering B-roll for the nationwide tv broadcast. And considerably predictably, no assortment of gamers spent extra time in focus than the quarterbacks.

A very good chunk of that spotlight belonged to veterans Will Howard and Devin Brown, the frontrunners on this yr’s quarterback competitors and the primary signal-callers to take reps with the starters over the weekend. The previous was a extremely coveted switch from Kansas State. The latter was the Buckeyes’ major backup final season.

However as kickoff approached, there was a second when the digital camera operator steadied his lens on true freshman Julian Sayin, one of many crown jewels from Ohio State’s efforts within the switch portal over the winter. Sayin was a five-star prospect and the No. 1 quarterback within the 247Sports Composite for the 2024 recruiting cycle. He had simply enrolled at Alabama for the spring semester when head coach Nick Saban made the shocking determination to retire, rocking the game from one coast and convention to the opposite. That is when Sayin jumped within the portal and landed in Columbus.

“This can be a future star proper right here,” the cameraman stated when a colleague raised his eyebrows about filming the quarterback adjoining to Howard in Ohio State’s throwing line. Overhearing the remark, Sayin tried and failed to carry again a smile.

For the second consecutive offseason, the Buckeyes navigated their spring sport with a quarterback battle because the prevailing storyline — solely this yr’s model featured a decidedly trendy twist for head coach Ryan Day: choice and retention intertwined.

Howard, Brown and Sayin are three of the 5 scholarship quarterbacks that Day and his employees want to preserve past the following two weeks, with sophomore Lincoln Kienholz and Air Noland, one other five-star freshman, rounding out the listing. That the Buckeyes may even assemble such a set of expertise speaks to the considerable assets and consolidation of energy now fueling the game’s elite. However sustaining such depth when the switch portal reopens on Tuesday presents a completely completely different set of challenges. If two’s firm and three’s a crowd, then the quarterback room at Ohio State is a swarm.

“We’ll sit down as a employees and meet on it,” offensive coordinator Chip Kelly stated. “Ryan, he does an unbelievable job of, I feel, [getting] all our gamers [to] perceive the place they match and what the image is, and we’ll give them our evaluation. We do it after every single day. They know the place they stand after follow one, after two, after three, after 4. We grade all the pieces. They’re getting fixed suggestions by way of the place we’re.”

There was nothing from Saturday’s spring sport to alter the notion that Howard stays the presumptive starter. The 6-foot-4, 237-pound senior bypassed what he described as mid- to late-round curiosity from the NFL to make use of his ultimate yr of eligibility at Ohio State, which in and of itself suggests he anticipated to win the job. And when the first-string offense took the sector at Ohio Stadium over the weekend, it was Howard who managed the opening sequence. He completed the afternoon having accomplished 9 of 13 passes for 77 yards however failed to steer a landing drive.

Ohio State Soccer spring sport highlights

Ohio State Football spring game highlights

The race between Howard and Brown is shut sufficient by way of 15 spring practices that neither Day nor Kelly tipped their respective fingers when requested about naming a starter throughout postgame information conferences. That alone may be sufficient to make sure Brown, a junior, stays with the Buckeyes by way of fall camp to proceed difficult for the job. Brown produced the sport’s first landing on a 14-yard move to Brennen Schramm late within the second quarter and accomplished 5 of seven throws for 66 yards total. He additionally gained 24 dashing yards on three scrambles that highlighted a capability to make performs outdoors the pocket.

“When you’ve gotten a quarterback who can run,” Day stated, “it does change the numbers as everyone knows. You guys have seen that over time. And it will be a weapon for us this yr as a result of all of our quarterbacks are athletic sufficient to try this.”

Key takeaways from Ohio State’s spring sport

Key takeaways from Ohio State's spring game

With Howard and Brown seemingly atop the pack and Sayin making an early surge since arriving from Alabama, it is Kienholz and Noland whose names are prone to be concerned in switch hypothesis till the portal closes on April 30. Kienholz was a four-star prospect and the No. 15 quarterback within the 2023 recruiting cycle. He flipped his dedication from Washington to Ohio State and performed sparingly final season because the third-stringer. He accomplished 6 of 17 passes for 86 yards and no touchdowns in a bowl loss to Missouri after starter Kyle McCord entered the portal and Brown suffered an damage. What Kienholz confirmed on Saturday wasn’t a lot better: 10 of 17 for 71 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions.

Previous to Sayin’s arrival, Noland was the lone quarterback in Ohio State’s signing class. He was a four-star prospect and the No. 4 quarterback within the 2024 cycle whose inventory continued to rise after a formidable displaying on the Elite 11 Finals final summer season. Noland remained loyal to the Buckeyes regardless of persistent rumors of a flip to Oregon and the sudden dedication from Sayin over the winter. He accomplished 5 of seven passes for 47 yards, no touchdowns and one interception through the spring sport, but additionally added 42 dashing yards on 5 makes an attempt. Sayin, who completed 10-for-17 for 85 yards, no touchdowns and one interception, is noticeably forward in his growth.

“Julian is a really quick processor, you recognize?” Kelly stated. “He actually thinks very, in a short time on his ft. He makes actually fast selections. He does not stick in reads. He can progress and he sees issues very well for a younger participant and never having been uncovered to plenty of faculty defenses. And particularly what [defensive coordinator] Jim [Knowles] does. Jim could make a younger freshman quarterback cry with among the stuff he does. However I by no means noticed that with Julian.”

In some respects, what the Buckeyes have compiled of their quarterback room is the dwelling embodiment of roster constructing within the present local weather. There is a high-level switch (Howard) who’s keen to complete his profession with a flourish. There’s an skilled upperclassman (Brown) who has patiently waited his flip. There is a developmental teenager (Kienholz) who nonetheless wants time to develop. There is a prized portal pickup (Sayin) whose determination to affix the group could not have been anticipated. There is a conventional four-star freshman (Noland) who was the focus of Day’s final recruiting class.

Ohio State has acquired its quarterbacks in seemingly each manner conceivable forward of the 2024 marketing campaign. The true problem is preserving them. 

“We will give them suggestions, for positive,” Day stated. “And go from there.”

 Michael Cohen covers faculty soccer and basketball for FOX Sports activities with an emphasis on the Massive Ten. Observe him on Twitter at @Michael_Cohen13.

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