Quinn Ewers' potential early enrollment at Ohio State is not without precedent

Joey Kaufman
The Columbus Dispatch
If Quinn Ewers reclassifies to the recruiting class of 2021, he would compete with C.J. Stroud, Kyle McCord and Jack Miller for the starting job at Ohio State.

Ballyhooed quarterback commit Quinn Ewers could graduate a year early from high school and enroll at Ohio State in time to join the Buckeyes for the start of preseason training camp next week.

His potential reclassification into the recruiting class of 2021 made national headlines when it was first reported Wednesday by Yahoo Sports.

Not only the top-ranked passer in the 2022 class out of Southlake Carroll near Dallas, Ewers is a rare talent, one of only six prep prospects in the past two decades to receive a perfect 247Sports composite ranking.

If he decides to head to Columbus, it would also shake up the Buckeyes’ quarterback competition, one of the biggest position battles in college football this offseason, as they seek to replace Justin Fields.

But his move would not be unprecedented. Though more common in college basketball, fellow quarterbacks have taken such a step in recent years.

J.T. Daniels reclassified after his junior season at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California, before enrolling at USC in 2018. He started right away for the Trojans, but suffered a season-ending knee injury to start the following season and transferred to Georgia.

Two years before Daniels skipped his senior season, Jake Bentley took the same route in heading to South Carolina. He's since transferred to Utah and South Alabama after starting 33 games for the Gamecocks.

The novel element in Ewers’ potential reclassification is name, image and likeness. His family told Yahoo that he has been considering the leap because the University Interscholastic League, governing body of high school sports in Texas, does not believe state legislation allows Ewers to make money through endorsement deals as college athletes are now permitted to do.  

Playing his senior season of high school would see him forfeit significant income. The family said he has already been offered cash and an equity stake in Holy Kombucha, a beverage company based in Dallas, among other offers that could total seven-figures.

Sporting a blonde bullet, Ewers is a marketable star with more than 100,000 combined followers on Instagram and Twitter, and quarterbacks with minimal experience in college have already capitalized on their NIL.

Quarterback Quinn Ewers is a marketable social media star with more than 100,000 combined followers on Instagram and Twitter.

Alabama coach Nick Saban said last week that Bryce Young was approaching $1 million in endorsements, though he has not been officially named the Crimson Tide’s starter. He attempted 22 passes last fall as a backup behind Heisman Trophy finalist Mac Jones.

Curtis Ewers told Yahoo that his son is not motivated by money, even as he leans toward joining the Buckeyes. The possibility is rooted in the UIL’s stance.

“It’s just the principle of it,” he said.

He works in the oil and gas business, while Kristen, Ewers’ mother, is a public school teacher, according to the report.

Other factors spurred Daniels and Bentley to graduate early from high school.

Daniels felt he was ready for a new challenge. He had started 41 games over three seasons at Mater Dei. As a junior, he had led the Monarchs to a 15-0 season and was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year.

He and his parents reasoned there was little left to accomplish on the high school field, and his development as a passer would happen faster at the college level.

Family reasons pushed Bentley to South Carolina. He had finished his junior season at Opelika High School in Alabama in 2015 when his father, Bobby Bentley, an assistant at Auburn, took a job as the running backs coach for the Gamecocks. Rather than stay behind or transfer to another high school near South Carolina for his senior season, the younger Bentley also joined the program.

Unlike Daniels, who beat out three other quarterbacks to win the starting job after reclassifying, Bentley didn’t begin his freshman season in 2016 as the starter, but he took over midway through the fall.

If Ewers indeed comes early to Ohio State, he’ll be in a competition with other quarterbacks as well, battling freshmen Kyle McCord, Jack Miller and C.J. Stroud for the chance to take over behind center when the Buckeyes open their season at Minnesota on Sept. 2.

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman

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