The first domino in the overhaul of Ohio State’s quarterback room fell a year ago.
Chris Chugunov, a graduate transfer from West Virginia, joined the Buckeyes last August for his final two seasons of eligibility.
As he recounted last week, it wasn’t difficult to sway him to Columbus.
“The program, the tradition, the coaches, the players,” Chugunov said. “It's Ohio State. It's not hard to recruit kids here.”
Chugunov spent the fall as the third passer on the depth chart, sitting behind Dwayne Haskins Jr. and Tate Martell.
Entering this season, he remains overshadowed. The Buckeyes since added other transfer quarterbacks, most notably Justin Fields, who is expected to be named the starter, and then Gunnar Hoak, the most recent arrival, from Kentucky.
But among the Buckeyes’ three scholarship quarterbacks, Chugunov is the most-tenured and the only one with starting experience in college.
Chugunov started two games at West Virginia in 2017 as a redshirt sophomore after Will Grier was injured. He started a 59-31 loss at No. 3 Oklahoma in the regular-season finale and a 30-14 loss to Utah in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
His status as the most veteran quarterback is unusual considering he arrived only last season, but Chugunov didn’t find his position odd. It’s perhaps a result of the growth of transfers in college football, but he also thought Fields and Hoak had been quick studies to catch up as well.
“I don't think about it much,” Chugunov said. “Fields has been here now since January, and he's adapted very well. It seems like he's been here for years now. And same thing with Hoak. We're all just working together to improve.”
Coach Ryan Day, who has yet to officially name the starter, has brought up the need to make sure all three quarterbacks can fill in when needed.
"You just don't know what's going to happen,” Day said. “Crazy things happen. You like to think everyone is going to stay healthy. The reality of it is, you look at the numbers around the country, that doesn't happen.”
That includes Chugunov, who said he followed Day’s cue in practices and off the field.
“We're all rotating,” he said. “We're all taking reps, working hard in the film room grinding all day, trying to master the offense. And out there (at practice), just paying attention to detail and working hard.”
Chugunov is still new to Ohio State. This summer was the first time he went through the offseason workout program with the team and throwing sessions with the receivers.
Along with the other quarterbacks, he put a priority on timing with the pass catchers and furthering their understanding of route concepts.
“Just really honing in on the offense,” Chugunov said. “We were out here a lot with the receivers. We were out here pretty much every day just trying to be on the same page with the receivers, going over all the routes we have in our very complex offense.”