Senior seasoning helping Ohio State quarterback commit Kyle McCord

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra

Kyle McCord liked his pre-snap adjustment.

Facing fourth-and-short in the first half of a win over La Salle College High School earlier this month, he watched the defense approach the line of scrimmage, leaving his St. Joseph's Prep team stuck in a delicate run-pass option against a looming pass rush.

So the Ohio State-committed quarterback called for some more pass protection, and it worked. Left with enough time in the pocket, McCord found a receiver to pick up a first down.

The sequence was an instance in which McCord feels he has made strides as a senior this fall. Coaches have given him more leeway to adjust play calls before the ball is snapped. It is a finer detail, one that he views as a step toward better managing the game and reading defenses.

“Things like that kind of fly under the radar sometimes,” McCord said, “but when it comes down to it, is very huge at the next level.”

Kyle McCord of Philadelphia feels he has made strides in reading defenses this season despite his team, St. Joseph's Prep, playing a shortened schedule because of the coronavirus pandemic.

His senior season of high school has been shortened because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the Philadelphia powerhouse program has been able to play only two games as a result, but he has found the appearances valuable as he prepares to join the Buckeyes next year as an early enrollee.

“I feel like for a quarterback, the best practice you can have for going into college is playing actual games,” McCord said, “and getting a feel for it and calling in protection at the line and reading coverages and making live decisions and throwing the ball against defenses. I think that's probably one of the best things that you could do to prepare.”

For that reason, McCord, a five-star prospect and one of the top-ranked quarterbacks nationally in the class of 2021, said he never considered opting out of a season.  

If there was to be a season this fall, he was playing in it.

“The practices and the experience of playing a season, whether it was four games, six games, eight, whatever the number was, I think would be beneficial for my development,” he said.

It has not been all smooth sailing since St. Joseph's Prep opened on Oct. 10. Their game last week was canceled, as were some practices earlier this week.

McCord was left to work out with only one of his teammates, Sahmir Hagans, a wide receiver who is committed to Duke, as they went through their only throwing session.

The Hawks are scheduled to play their third game of their shortened season on Saturday night against Archbishop Wood, one of two games left in the regular season ahead of the Pennsylvania state playoffs. St. Joseph's has won the past two Class 6A state titles.

That leaves open the possibility that McCord can play in as many as four more games, which would be welcome news for his college coaches. Buckeyes coach Ryan Day said this week that game experience was paramount for quarterback development.

“When you look at the success of the guys who play in the NFL, a lot of them have a lot of game experience under their belt coming out of college and high school,” he said. “It’s just the truth. And a lot of that is because you just you can't replace experience. So the more of those guys can play, the better off in terms of their development.”

McCord is likely to be in a quarterback competition when he arrives at Ohio State ahead of spring practices next year.

If Justin Fields declares early for the NFL draft as expected, it would leave McCord, along with current freshmen Jack Miller and C.J. Stroud as those vying to replace him.

He was eager about the possibility.

“Assuming Justin leaves, having a chance to compete for the job early on is pretty special,” he said. “There's not too many schools of Ohio State's caliber that have that kind of opportunity sitting ahead this offseason. That's something that's extremely attractive.”


Ohio State quarterbacks status 

2020 Ohio State quarterbacks 

Justin Fields, junior: Second-year OSU starter was first-team all-Big Ten as a sophomore in 2019 and a Heisman Trophy finalist. University of Georgia transfer is expected to depart after this season for NFL draft. 

Justin Fields:Quarterback Justin Fields is ready to run when Ohio State needs him

• Jack Miller, freshman: Second-longest committed prospect in the Buckeyes’ recruiting class for 2020, holding firm during Urban Meyer-Ryan Day transition. Not considered official No. 2 quarterback, but was the first to replace Fields in opener.

C.J. Stroud, freshman: Late-blooming recruit from California who committed and signed with Ohio State on early signing day last December, joining Miller as the second blue-chip passer in the class.

• Gunnar Hoak, redshirt senior: Dublin native in second season as a backup behind Fields after transferring from Kentucky last year. NCAA eligibility freeze due to COVID-19 leaves door open for returning for sixth season.

• J.P. Andrade, sophomore: Preferred walk-on had scholarship offers from handful of FCS programs. 

• Jagger Laroe, redshirt sophomore: Texas A&M transfer joined the Buckeyes’ program as a walk-on last year.

• Danny Vanatsky, junior: Cincinnati native walked on in 2018, a year in which OSU did not sign a quarterback in its recruiting class.

2021 in-coming Ohio State quarterbacks

• Kyle McCord: High school senior from Philadelphia who is a five-star prospect, according to 247Sports' composite rankings, and the third-highest-ranked pro-style passer in the class of 2021.

Note: No prep quarterbacks beyond the 2021 class are committed to the Buckeyes.