Football

Kyle McCord Is Ready For Anything, But Focused On The Here And Now

A year ago at this time, CJ Stroud and Jack Miller had yet to ever throw a collegiate pass, Kyle McCord was greener than country club grass, and Quinn Ewers was just a twinkle in the eye of the 2021 signing class.

Spin the clock forward to the present day and only Stroud and McCord remain at Ohio State. Miller transferred to Florida after last season and Ewers left for Texas.

It was a wild ride for all involved, but finally — as much as this can actually be possible in the world of collegiate quarterbacks — things have begun to settle down with the Buckeye signal callers.

This also means that Kyle McCord has much better footing now than he did a year ago. Even still, it was McCord who won the backup job last year behind Stroud, and it was McCord who started the Akron game last year, making it the first time in a decade that the Buckeyes started a true freshman quarterback in a game.

McCord threw for 319 yards in that game, completing over 70% of his passes.

The Buckeyes were 48.5-point favorites in that game, so it was an ideal situation for a true freshman quarterback to make his first start. But it was a very beneficial experience for McCord both back then and right now.

“I think that game was a great learning experience because you can practice and watch film all you want, but nothing is like the real deal when you step out there on the field,” McCord said this spring. “The amount of things I learned starting one game, it’s ridiculous. So I think that was just a great stepping stone, helping me develop faster and learn the overall game.

“I think when you get in that game environment, everything happens a little bit faster. You see a lot of different schemes that you might not see in practice. We were doing some stuff in scout, and then you see a completely different look on the field, so just adjusting it out on the fly. Just things like that, that you can’t really replicate in practice, which is good.”

McCord is now “night and day” from where he was last year. He has gone through two springs, nearly two offseasons, and one entire season. He is a different quarterback than he was as a freshman and he has a different perspective on both his abilities in this offense and the overall chaotic nature of being a college quarterback.

His resiliency has been tested but he has persevered and grown from the experience. The game has slowed down for him and he is more confident than ever. And when given another chance to prove it on the field, he expects to succeed. He is not a finished product yet, but then he doesn’t ever plan to be.

“I think I do a lot. I’m not a very boastful type of guy, but I think I can make any throw,” McCord said. “I think I run the offense well. I make good decisions with the ball. But overall, there’s not really one area that I want to improve on — it’s everything. I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable with one area and say, ‘I don’t need to work on that,’ and focus on something else. I think it’s just my overall game, continue to get better in every single area.”

Having that confidence and getting an opportunity to start as a true freshman would make some players so hungry to start as a sophomore that they’d look to the transfer portal to satiate that hunger. McCord knows that CJ Stroud is the starter. He saw first hand last year as Stroud went from embattled rookie starter to Heisman finalist.

The Buckeye quarterbacks all saw the writing on the wall for the 2022 season. Head coach Ryan Day and quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis wrote in big, bold letters that the starting job was taken. So Miller and Ewers left. McCord, however, stuck it out.

“Yeah, I think it’s definitely a marathon, not a sprint,” McCord explained. “And looking at it from the bigger picture. I think, coming here, you realize how well you’re coached by coach Day, coach Dennis, [offensive analyst] coach [Todd] Fitch. So that was really important to me. And on top of that, I feel like just being here, I learned a lot. I learned a lot. I know that a lot of people thought I could have left and went somewhere else and tried to start this year. But in the long term I thought it was the best decision to stay here and continue to get developed.”

Taking advantage of the quarterback development under Ryan Day seems to be a sound plan. Stroud is likely to be the third Buckeye quarterback in a row to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. With Stroud being a redshirt sophomore this season, it is expected that this will be his final season at Ohio State.

That means with his experience and time in the program, McCord would be the favorite to start in 2023 and be next in line to keep that first-round streak alive.

It’s a lot to think about and a lot to get excited about, but it won’t help McCord get there. And it certainly won’t help him get there any quicker, which is why he is focused on the here and now instead.

“I’m just worried about right now, getting better every day,” he said. “I’m not really looking into the future like that. I think it’s easy to get caught up thinking about that. Thinking, ‘Oh, if CJ is gone, I could be the guy.’ But I think the biggest thing right now is just focusing on the present and being where my feet are, and just getting better every day. Because that’s ultimately how you get better. I’m not going to get better by looking at the future, dreaming about it, I’m going to get better just being in the present and working.”

In the day and age of the transfer portal, McCord’s stance may seem antiquated, but not for him.

“I think you just have to see the bigger picture of it,” he said. “I mean, what more could I want being at a school like this, getting coached by the best coaches in the world?”