Early prediction: McCord will win Ohio State quarterback race

Sports gambling has come to Ohio and while I’m a non-participant, I will offer this advice: If you’re going to place a bet on who will be Ohio State’s starting quarterback next season, put your money on Kyle McCord.

It’s a foregone conclusion that two-time Heisman Trophy finalist C.J. Stroud will enter the NFL draft and McCord, who has been Stroud’s back-up the last two seasons, and freshman Devin Brown will compete for the starting job.

In the next eight months, Ryan Day will be asked over and over if one of the two quarterbacks has taken the lead in the race to become the starter. And he will say again and again that they’ve both looked good and he hasn’t named a starter yet.

Two years ago, Day waited until two weeks before OSU’s opener at Minnesota to announce Stroud would be the starter. In 2019, he waited until 12 days before the opener against Florida Atlantic to make it official that Justin Fields was the starter.

Coaches like experience. They like quarterbacks who know their program and the playbook inside and out.

McCord actually puts two check marks in that box heading into this third year at OSU because he already has started a game at Ohio State and looked good in that start against Akron in 2021 when Stroud rested an injured shoulder. He threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns in a 59-7 win over the Zips.

This season he played in seven games, completed 16 of 20 passes and had one touchdown pass.

It also certainly doesn’t hurt that he has a long relationship with the Buckeyes’ best receiver, Marvin Harrison Jr., who he won three state championships with at St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia.

“It’s been my mindset since I got here that I want to be the starter and that’s hasn’t changed. Now that C.J., is gone that’s not going to change. I’ll prepare like the starter and act like it,” McCord said at the Peach Bowl’s media day last week.

“You want to be on the field, you want to play, you want to be that guy. But at the same time you have to realize that even if you’re not playing on the field, you’re developing, you’re getting better, you’re crafting. Keep motivated, keep going, never get complacent, never settle because you’re not on the field right now,” he said

McCord has played quarterback since he was five years old. His freshman year of high school is the only time, other than the last two years that he was not the starting quarterback on his team.

“It was kind of the same situation. A kid had kind of established himself in the job. The one thing the coach kept preaching to me was get better every single day because you never know when that opportunity is going to come. I finally got an opportunity to play my sophomore year it felt like that year of not playing helped me develop myself. I don’t know if I would have been ready to play as a freshman.”

McCord said part of his learning process at OSU was observing how Stroud handled being the starter and everything that comes with it.

Those lessons starter with Stroud’s ability to lead. “I don’t think he gets enough credit for that. Guys really rally around him. I think he motivates everybody, myself included. I can ask him about a read on a defense and he can give me an answer that’s a minute long. He’s been a great mentor to me,” he said.

“He tells me everything that comes with it, like after a good game the attention you get and then after a bad game dealing with the media and whatever. He has been great in that area. He really kind of took me under his wing ever since last year. It’s been a real good relationship.”

Jim Naveau
Jim Naveau has covered local and high school sports for The Lima News since 1978 and Ohio State football since 1992. His OSU coverage appears in more than 30 newspapers. Naveau, a Miami University graduate, also worked at the Greenville Advocate and the Piqua Daily Call. He has seen every boys state basketball tournament since 1977. Reach him at [email protected] or 567-242-0414.