When Yahoo’s Pete Thamel reported on Wednesday that Ohio State’s 2022 quarterback commit Quinn Ewers was leaning towards enrolling next month with the Buckeyes it did two things. First, it confirmed what had been speculated on our Ask The Insiders message board for the past three weeks. Second, it created all kinds of questions and concerns about what this means for the Buckeyes and the current and future quarterback room.
In an effort to try and sort things out myself, I thought I would ask and answer some of the more pressing questions. When the news broke on Wednesday, Tom Orr and myself recorded an emergency episode of the Buckeye Weekly Podcast where we tried to bring as much analysis as we could, but we often just drifted into head shaking and question asking.
Now with some time to reflect, I’m ready to look at this with a clearer eye and answer seven of the more urgent questions this situation has brought about.
1. What is happening and why is it happening now?
Currently in Texas, high school athletes are not permitted to profit from their name, image, and likeness. The problem with that is that Quinn Ewers has companies lining up to have him pitch their wares, and in one case a product has even offered him stake in the company. Ewers is one online English class short of graduating early and enrolling at Ohio State in the next week or so. The quarterback is still deciding what he’s going to do, but he did tell Thamel that he’s leaning toward enrolling at Ohio State, which would then free him up to capitalize on his NIL rights thanks to the rules passed earlier this month by the NCAA. The Buckeyes open camp on August 3, which is another reason why this is all coming to a head right now.
2. What does this mean for this year?
If Quinn Ewers decides to enroll at Ohio State, it will give head coach Ryan Day his desired number of four scholarship quarterbacks. Unfortunately, all four of them would enter the season with true freshman eligibility. CJ Stroud and Jack Miller were true freshmen last year, and both played sparingly, but with the free year granted by the NCAA, they both still have five years to play four. Kyle McCord is a true freshman who enrolled in the winter. Ewers would give Ohio State four freshmen quarterbacks on the same roster probably for the first time since scholarship restrictions came into being. There is every possibility that this won’t materially impact the quarterback competition as it currently stands.
3. Can Quinn Ewers win the job?
Continuing on from the answer in question two, it would be incredibly impressive if a high school senior could show up on campus one month before the Buckeyes play their first game and win the job outright. That’s some Willie Mays Hayes stuff right there and it just isn’t realistic. Can Quinn Ewers win the job at some point this year? Sure. Anything is possible. Will he win the job at some point this year? I don’t think so. In fact, it would take everyone else losing the job in order for him to win it. That’s not putting him down or anything like that, that’s just me talking about a high school senior being asked to run a Ryan Day offense that supposedly takes a year for a college quarterback to truly grasp.
4. What does this do to team chemistry?
I don’t really think this does anything to team chemistry. Some will wonder what this does to freshman quarterback Kyle McCord, but he’s more concerned about winning the starting job right now, and that’s not a place where Quinn Ewers is yet. The two would be operating at different planes. I would expect Ewers to be like every other true freshman his first few months on the job — a silent sponge. Take in everything you can, but do it silently. The quarterback room will recognize his attitude more than his ability. Ewers will need to earn his teammates’ respect and if he can do that, the chemistry will follow.
5. Is Quinn Ewers willing to sit for two years?
I can sit here and tell you that Quinn Ewers’ clock shouldn’t even be ticking yet, but that doesn’t stop said clock from doing what it does. For timing purposes, it would be best for Ohio State if Ewers returned to high school this year just so that his waiting doesn’t actually begin until he arrives in 2022. This year shouldn’t really count for Ewers in terms of his waiting, but try telling him that. It is very unlikely that Ewers is going to win the starting job this year. It’s also unlikely that whoever wins the job this year won’t also win it next year. If that’s CJ Stroud or Jack Miller, then it’s also quite possible they head off to the NFL after the 2022 season. Kyle McCord got a nice head start on Ewers this year, but by 2023 the two of them would be much more even.
6. Why waste a year of eligibility?
Quinn Ewers was never going to be here for five years, so him enrolling early and easing into his Buckeye career by redshirting doesn’t waste a year of eligibility. It basically gives him a five-month head start on what he would have gotten by enrolling next January. And all it cost him was a fifth year he was never going to use. The days of quarterbacks sticking around Ohio State for five years is gone for a while, so it’s probably time to make peace with some of the costs of OSU’s new branding as QBU. I do, however, find it somewhat funny that some people are worried about him wasting a year of eligibility while others are convinced that he won’t stick around for two years on the bench. It is too bad that his clock would get started a year early. Unless, of course, he pays his own way this semester and grayshirts. That’s an option that would allow him to remain a 2022 signee but also capitalize on his NIL. I think he would also then still be allowed to turn pro after the 2023 season — which would technically be his true sophomore year, but the grayshirt would be his actual measuring stick. Anyway, as you can see, there’s a lot to think about right now — even though none of this may end up coming to fruition.
7. Doesn’t this just create a mess?
There are worse messes that have been created. Do I need to go through past Ohio State rosters and list the quarterbacks the Buckeyes have had at their disposal over the years? (Emphasis on disposal.) In a crowded-quarterback-room sense of things, yes, this is a bit messy, but tis better to have messed and lost than never to have messed at all. Ryan Day will go and get as much quarterback talent as he can, knowing that more is better than less. Granted, less has worked out the past two years — unless you chalk up OSU’s losses in part to Justin Fields’ injuries, which isn’t outrageous. There have been some unprecedented years in college football of late, and this one will be another because of the ripples of rules from last year. There are several bizarre reasons for why things are so crowded for Buckeye quarterbacks and they will never be like this again, but it’s definitely something that will need to be handled. I think it’s going to be a while before we see another three-year starter at quarterback for the Buckeyes. They would have to win the job as a true freshman and Day’s recruiting is too good to allow that to happen. So, in summation, yeah, it’s messy. But so are ribs. I can still see a scenario where Kyle McCord and Quinn Ewers both get to start for a year, but it’s going to require somebody to sit for three years. That’s a tough ask nowadays, but with Day’s track record, maybe it’s not as tough as we think.
Bonus: So is this a good thing or a bad thing?
It’s a bit of both and just depends on who you ask. It starts Quinn Ewers’ clock faster, meaning Ohio State has to find a replacement a year earlier than they were planning on. But it also allows Ewers to get up to speed quicker and be more prepared when he finally does compete for the job. I think Ohio State would rather he stay home this year, but if it’s a matter of losing him or keeping him, then you’re going to find a way to get him in the fold as quickly as he would like.