It’s not every day that a program must replace a potential top-five pick. But the 2021 Ohio State quarterback will have to fill the large void left by Justin Fields. There will be three quarterbacks to watch. If there’s anything we know about head coach Ryan Day, it’s that he’s going to put all three through the wringer to make sure that whoever steps up is the right man for the job.
The 2021 Ohio State Quarterback Battle Will Be Fun To Watch
There is no shortage of talent. Between the three, they’re all highly-rated recruits who tore it up at the high school level. It is going to be Day’s first true test to see if he can recruit and develop elite quarterback talent (considering Fields was a transfer). None of these have attempted a pass at the college level, so it’s good that they’ll have one of the best offensive lines in front of them.
Not to mention the fact that Jeremy Ruckert and Chris Olave are returning and the wide receiver room, as a whole, is loaded (more on that at a later date). Whoever wins this battle will be perfectly set up for success.
C.J. Stroud (RS Freshman)
The odds-on favorite to win the 2021 Ohio State quarterback job is C.J. Stroud. Stroud, a 6’3″, 205 lbs redshirt freshman enters the competition with some lofty expectations.
He was the number two pro-style quarterback in the class of 2020 after monster junior and senior seasons where he threw for a total of 6,221 yards and 66 touchdowns. Don’t let that pro-style label make you think he’s immobile; it’s quite the opposite. Stroud is a throw-first quarterback, but he can move. His high school game tape shows flashes of Fields’ game but with a shorter throwing motion.
If he is anything similar to Fields, Buckeye fans have plenty to be hyped about. He appeared in three games in 2020, but only eight snaps (one vs Rutgers, six vs Michigan State, one vs Clemson). He did get to show off his athleticism against the Spartans as he broke off a 48-yard touchdown run, untouched.
Stroud is slippery in the pocket, is surprisingly difficult to bring down, and can sling it. With how much success Ohio State had with Fields, it is not surprising that Coach Day gravitated towards Stroud.
Jack Miller (RS Freshman)
With all this talk of Stroud, don’t count out Jack Miller. Miller committed to the Buckeyes early and never wavered. At 6’3″ and 215 lbs, Miller is right there with Stroud in terms of physicality.
As a four-year starter, Miller threw for nearly 10,000 yards and 130 total touchdowns. He holds Arizona state records with 115 career passing touchdowns as well as single-season records 3,653 yards and 53 touchdowns.
Like Stroud, Miller has yet to even attempt a pass at the collegiate level. He redshirted in 2020 and only appeared in two games for a total of ten snaps. He did earn his first-career rushing touchdown in the opener against Nebraska.
Miller is just as dynamic of a playmaker as Stroud, though he is more reliant on his arm than his legs. He can scoot, he just doesn’t use it as often. Miller has a strong, accurate arm and is able to pinpoint his throws. Honestly, the only reason he hasn’t already been crowned as the heir-apparent is due to his injuries he sustained in high school.
Injuries or no, Miller seems to be completely healthy and ready to compete. He knew going in that there would be another 2021 Ohio State quarterback taken and never wavered. If Stroud does end up winning the battle against Miller, it will have been earned. Jack Miller is a very good quarterback and likely could have had his pick of the litter had he de-committed from OSU.
Kyle McCord (Freshman)
The wild card in this 2021 Ohio State quarterback battle is going to be true freshman out of St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Kyle McCord. Already at 6’3″, 215 lbs, McCord fits the mold of Ryan Day quarterbacks before he even gets in the building.
McCord is actually from the same school as fellow 2021 recruit, Marvin Harrison, Jr. They led their team to its third-consecutive state title last year after winning the job as a sophomore. He owns city and league records for career passing yards with 6,887 and touchdowns with 88.
Without taking a snap, McCord looks like the real deal. He is poised in the pocket and has a strong release. He is able to fit passes into tight windows and has the physical presence you’d want in your quarterback. 247sports actually has him compared to Matthew Stafford and projected as an early-round draft pick. High praise for the future Buckeye!
McCord signed on the Early Signing Day and will enroll early. The competition is already heating up.
Next Man Up
With Justin Fields declaring for the NFL draft, he leaves a massive void. Can Stroud, Miller, or McCord step up right away? The Buckeyes start the 2021 campaign on the road in Minnesota then come right back to play Oregon in Columbus. Whomever it is, they will have their work cut out for them, but they could not be stepping into a better situation.
The unfortunate fact of all this is that there’s just so much talent. Add in the number one overall recruit in 2022, Quinn Ewers, and this room is going to be crowded. Hopefully, all four stay and continue to compete for the starting job at Ohio State. But the reality is that at least one of them will likely transfer out.
Regardless, the 2021 Ohio State quarterback battle is sure to be must-see TV. Hopefully, we get a spring game where the three of them can duke it out and we can really see who is fit to be the next man up.