Quarterback competition to be front and center when spring ball begins at Ohio State

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio State will kick off the “other” big season on campus when spring football practices begin on Tuesday morning. Since the end of December, it’s been a radical renovation of the program, with the transformation beginning at quarterback.

With last year’s starter Kyle McCord gone to play at Syracuse, Kansas State transfer Will Howard was brought in to potentially become the new starter and Tuesday will mark the first time he’ll be seen in a Buckeye uniform. Howard won a Big 12 championship with the Wildcats in 2022 and he’s already embracing the high expectations that the Buckeyes have for him.

“We know how much is on the line. We know how much we’ve already given into this season and how much we’ve invested in this team. I think we have a really really good winner,” Howard said. “The way the guys are bought in. The leadership we have on this team. The guys that decided to come back and the guys that decided to come to this program. It’s exciting. We know what’s on the line. We’re chasing that one percent every single day. At the end of the day, we know that our main goal is to win and to win all of them. That’s the bottom line.”

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But Howard still has to win the job with competition coming mainly from Devin Brown and Lincoln Kienholz. Brown was thought to be a major risk to transfer away after nursing ankle injuries throughout last season. He says he’s taken steps to make sure he stays healthy. He also had a response for those who thought he was leaving OSU.

“Honestly, I think people are cowards. I think people have this, you know, this thought in their own heads that I’m going to leave and I’m a quitter,” Brown said. “But that’s never been me. I mean, these people live, you know, wherever in their mom’s basement, saying stuff about me. And they don’t know [expletive]. Excuse my language, but they don’t know anything. They don’t know who I am. They don’t know who I’ve been. And that’s always who I’ve been.”

Buckeye fans are still not over the way last season ended. The 2023 campaign saw Ohio State lose for the third straight season to the team up north before falling in the Cotton Bowl to Missouri. Besides creating competition at quarterback, head coach Ryan Day also bolstered the offensive line by adding center Seth McLaughlin from Alabama.

Also from Tuscaloosa, the Buckeyes brought in one of the nation’s best players in safety Caleb Downs. And Quinshon Judkins comes to Columbus from Ole Miss to add to an already talented running back room.

The changes continued on the coaching staff with three new assistants. Originally, Ohio State hired Bill O’Brien to be the offensive coordinator. But just days after his hiring, he left to be the head coach at Boston College. So to find his replacement, Day turned to his former offensive coordinator when he was a player at New Hampshire, Chip Kelly, who resigned from his head coaching job at UCLA for a chance to reunite with Day.

When Howard arrived in Columbus, he was already excited to work with O’Brien. Now he’s equally as excited to play for Kelly.

“It’s cool for me because I was an Eagles fan so like he was the head coach of the Eagles for when I was in middle school and high school so I’m getting to work with somebody who coached my team growing up and just a ton of knowledge,” Howard said. “He has been around, knows everyone and his schemes are really quarterback friendly. I think that the things that he does are easy and it’s not a lot of manipulation. It’s how can we get as many yards as possible without any strain. It’s a lot of good stuff that he’s done.”

The Buckeyes will hold 14 spring practices before the annual Spring Game, which takes place on Saturday, April 13 at Ohio Stadium.

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