One-third through spring practice, no clarity in Ohio State quarterback competition

Bill Rabinowitz
Buckeye Xtra
Ryan Day said that all three players vying to be Ohio State's next quarterback are throwing the ball well, but that it will take far more than pretty passes to win the starting job.

Ohio State is one-third of the way through spring football practice, and the biggest question of March remains as much of a mystery as ever.

C.J. Stroud, Jack Miller and Kyle McCord are battling to succeed Justin Fields as the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback. No front-runner has emerged after five practices, and coach Ryan Day still speaks of the candidates in generalities. There are no tea leaves to read because the leaves themselves haven’t had much chance to bloom.

“The competition's open, and guys are competing every day,” Day said of his quarterbacks in a conference call Monday.

The Buckeyes have installed only their first- and second-down plays, he said. Installation of third-down plays will start Wednesday.

In other words, this likely will be a long process before Day settles on his quarterback. He said it might linger even beyond the 2021 season-opener at Minnesota.

“I'd love to sit here and tell you that I think we'll have a great feel for it in two weeks or three weeks or in the fifth practice of preseason,” he said. “But I don't think so.

“I do think the more we're around them, the more we get a feel for it, the more it kind of shakes out. But even going into that first game, you'll still be learning and trying to evaluate it all.”

So far, the early impressions are positive. Day said he is pleased with the way each of the quarterbacks throws. But an adequate arm is only a prerequisite.

“Decision-making timing, consistency, vision, anticipation — those are all the things that come into play,” Day said. “And then in the end, who takes care of the ball? The guys who turn the ball over aren't going to last very long as the quarterback at Ohio State. So those are the things we'll have to figure out.

“But when we just watch them go out there and throw the ball on air, they all look the part. They all throw really well. But now, who’s going to run the offense and be a leader? Because in the end, that's what the quarterback’s No. 1 job is, being a leader.”

Day has emphasized to the quarterbacks that steadiness will be essential. He doesn’t want them putting pressure on themselves to make spectacular plays in an attempt to dazzle. It’s safe to believe that Day has trotted out the it’s-a-marathon-not-a-sprint ethic to them.

Day expects growing pains. None of the three has thrown a college pass. Stroud and Miller saw limited action as true freshmen last year. McCord played an abbreviated senior season in high school in Philadelphia.

“You can't win the job in one day,” Day said. “You can't win the job in one throw, either. You have to just build over time. And that's important to understand, because I think it's easy when you're young to try to force the action and try to win the job.

“It doesn't come that way. It comes over time, with just a body of work, and that body of work  is being built.”

Wade out for pro day

Former OSU cornerback Shaun Wade will not work out in front of NFL scouts during Ohio State’s pro day Tuesday.

His agent, Michael Perrett, said Wade is rehabilitating a turf toe injury, postponing his workout until April 14. Wade suffered the injury last fall, according to Perrett.

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