INDIANAPOLIS — Heading into his fifth season as the head coach at Ohio State, Ryan Day isn’t new to the challenges of having to replace his starting quarterback. Since joining Urban Meyer’s staff as the quarterbacks coach in 2017 before ultimately taking over the program in 2019, Day has now been tasked with breaking in a new quarterback four times in his seven seasons in Columbus.
But unlike years past, when a clear, logical frontrunner had emerged despite Day’s best attempts to promote competition at the position, he will enter fall camp next week with true uncertainty about who will lead his offense when Ohio State travels to take on Indiana in the season opener on Sept. 2.
During Wednesday’s Big Ten Media Days session, Day was asked often about the state of the competition between Kyle McCord and Devin Brown and where the two stand entering the final stretch of the offseason. Dating back to the start of spring practice, through the team’s spring game on April 15, Day has maintained there has been no separation from either quarterback that would give one an edge leading into camp.
“They both had very good summers,” Day said of McCord and Brown. “They both have shown leadership. (Strength coach) Mick (Marotti) has really put them in situations to do that. Now it’s going to be time to go put it on the field. We obviously would like for someone to emerge here quickly. We’ll kind of have to see once we get on the field.”
Although McCord seemingly has multiple factors working in his favor given his additional year in the program, Brown’s absence from the spring game due to injury, and McCord having a start to his credit, Day made it clear on Wednesday that all his comments about the competition that will ensue next week aren’t simply lip service.
“When you talk about Justin (Fields) and C.J. (Stroud), those (competitions) were a little bit different,” Day said. “This one’s close. So these guys are going to continue to battle. Kyle wants to be the starter; that’s why he’s hung around here for three years. But Devin came here to play as well.”
While all eyes are sure to be on McCord and Brown as camp gets underway, Day was complimentary of the depth of the entire quarterback room, a luxury he’s rarely had during his time with the program.
“This is one of the first times that we’ve been here and we have depth in that room, and we’re going to need that whole room,” Day said. “We know the stories of when you need everybody in that room. For instance, when Justin (Fields) was there and when C.J. (Stroud) was there, and we didn’t have a lot of depth, we had to be very, very careful about running the quarterback. Maybe this year we have the opportunity to do some more things like that because we have some more depth in that room … We’ll take all of that into consideration, but we need that entire room to play at a championship level.”
As for when he would like to make a decision on the starter, Day said following a similar timeline as years past and making the call midway through camp would be ideal. That will be contingent upon someone beginning to separate himself from the other, however, and Day wouldn’t rule out playing both quarterbacks to begin the season if that separation never materializes.
“When you go into these situations, you’d like for someone to emerge during camp, but who knows if that’s going to happen or not?” Day said. “You’d like to see somebody emerge and then you name them, just like we’ve done with C.J. (Stroud) and Justin (Fields) and Dwayne (Haskins). If that doesn’t happen, then maybe (playing both) is the case. We’ll have to evaluate it from there. We’ll see. I know that we’ve got to go in and win that first game on the road, so we’re going to do everything we can and do what’s right for Ohio State.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.