Rob Oller: Ohio State QB room gets new addition with arrival of Quinn Ewers

Rob Oller
The Columbus Dispatch

Oh, to be a fly on the wall of the Ohio State quarterbacks meeting room, at least until Ryan Day swatted me to smithereens. 

I mean, talk about a juggling act. With chainsaws.

“Hey, guys, meet Quinn Ewers. He’s about to become the richest player on this team. And oh, by the way, he wants to take your job.”

Ewers posted on Twitter Monday that he will skip his senior season at Southlake (Texas) Carroll High School and enroll at Ohio State, where after completing his final high school class — presumably in the coming days — he plans to participate in OSU’s fall camp.

Talk about the Buckeyes preaching “Brotherhood” even while embracing an incoming quarterback who bailed on his high school teammates. How does that work?

Talk about the unintended consequences that name, image and likeness rules are having on amateur sports. The fallout just landed on Ohio State and Southlake Carroll like an anvil dropping on Wile E. Coyote. Ewers, the top-ranked quarterback in the class of 2022, could collect close to $1 million in NIL endorsement compensation his first season with the Buckeyes, Yahoo! Sports reported. 

Not that it’s all about the money. Of course not. But endorsement dollars prompted Ewers’ decision to leave Texas, where high school NIL deals are not allowed.

“Over the past few weeks, following Texas’ UIL informing me I would be prohibited from profiting off my own name, image and likeness, I’ve taken time to think about what lies ahead of me, both in the short and long term,” Ewers tweeted, adding that his preference would have been to complete his senior season with friends and teammates.  

Day, meanwhile, speaking at last month’s Big Ten media days: “If (quarterbacks) are worried about starting, if they’re worried about money, then they’re worried about the wrong things.”

It's a delicate situation, because Day might have risked losing Ewers to another team if he told the recruit it would be best for him to remain in high school. This way, at least he has a five-star quarterback in the fold.  

Much to unpack here.

First, Ewers is not Dr. Evil. I don’t like the optics of a high school player abandoning ship, but I’m also supportive of regulated NIL. But who regulates? And how? 

Also important to note: Ewers is more exception than rule. 

“At the end of the day there are going to be very few Quinn Ewers. … He is going to be the rare exception where (NIL) could possibly work out,” said Tom Luginbill, national recruiting analyst for ESPN, adding that the biggest worry is with other athletes thinking they are as marketable as Ewers. 

“Everybody else is going to feel like, ‘Well, if he can do it then I can do it,’ without thinking it through,” Luginbill said. “And most of those athletes will be making a mistake because generally they have an overinflated opinion of their ability level and value.”

The distraction of Quinn Ewers' arrival in Columbus

Quinn Ewers

More germane to Ohio State is the distraction that accompanies Ewers’ arrival. It’s difficult to “be where your feet are” as coaches love to say, when that stay-in-the-moment mindset is bombarded by media hypotheticals, fan speculation and the potential for the quarterback room to turn into Grand Central Station.  

The Buckeyes already were going to begin camp with three quarterbacks vying for the starting job: redshirt freshmen C.J. Stroud and Jack Miller and true freshman Kyle McCord. And while my money is on Stroud winning the job, adding Ewers to the mix thickens the plot; not so much regarding who will start but who will stay. It is widely assumed the quarterback finishing third in the pecking order will transfer, but the transfer scenarios just got more complicated with Ewers joining the mix.  

I can’t imagine Ewers winning the starting job. As talented as he is — one of only six high school prospects in the past two decades to receive a perfect 247Sports composite ranking — Ewers still would be only a high school senior in the fall if not for forfeiting his fourth season of prep football. The jump from high school to FBS is tough enough, but Ewers must get up to speed while only getting limited reps before the Sept. 2 opener at Minnesota. 

Put it this way: If Ewers wins the job over the next month, the Buckeyes have a quarterback for the ages. If he is the next Trevor Lawrence (or even Justin Fields), OSU is a lock for the College Football Playoff. And with the existing firepower on offense the Buckeyes become a legitimate national championship contender. 

Talk about high expectations. 

What about from the high school perspective? Conventional wisdom suggests high school coaches cannot be happy with Ewers’ decision, but in reality most know the chances of losing a talented senior to college is too small to lose sleep over.

“That’s a different world,” Hartley coach Brad Burchfield said. “We’re always going to be loving school and teammates. Those old-school values we were raised on, we’re going to hold onto as long as we can.”

Burchfield has nothing against Ewers, explaining that “everyone has the right to surround themselves with the culture” where they feel most comfortable.

“I don’t begrudge anybody making the decisions they make,” he said.

Words to live by, but that doesn’t mean Ewers’ decision will go down easy. Buckeye Nation must hope the quarterback competition doesn’t splat against the wall.


Dispatch reporter Bill Rabinowitz contributed.