College Football
Ryan Day sees 'some separation' in Ohio State QB battle ahead of spring game
College Football

Ryan Day sees 'some separation' in Ohio State QB battle ahead of spring game

Updated Apr. 11, 2024 10:48 a.m. ET

Ryan Day is leaving Ohio State's quarterback competition open entering Saturday's spring game (noon ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app). However, he's noticed that some quarterbacks are starting to gain an edge in what is a deep and accomplished QB room.

The Ohio State coach told reporters on Wednesday that he's "seeing some separation" in the team's quarterback battle. 

"I don't think we've narrowed it down, but you're seeing guys make certain plays and certain things that are showing up in practice," Day said. "As we start to get into some of the movement stuff, and you get into situational things, you're starting to just see commonalities. A lot of these guys bring great things to the table. Each guy brings either an experience or a skill set that's different from the others."

Day added that he's liked what he's seen from the Buckeyes' quarterbacks, noting they can impact the game in different ways. He's ultimately looking to see "consistency" from whoever ends up winning the quarterback battle.


"The good news is they all can move and that's certainly made an impact on the run game," Day said. "And the pass game, you know, there's good things there. There's still things that they're improving on but you're seeing some separation and I wouldn't say [I'm ready to] name a starter or anything like that, but there's been good competition and guys have made plays."

Entering spring practices, Kansas State transfer Will Howard was the presumed favorite for the job. The fifth-year senior is the most accomplished quarterback of the seven on Ohio State's roster, helping his former school win the Big 12 title in 2022 before throwing for 2,190 yards, 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions with 300 rushing yards and seven rushing scores last season.

Day wouldn't say if Howard was the front-runner for the starting job. But he noted that he's "working really hard" as he's in the team's facilities early and late. On the field, Day said that they're "trying to put him in the most difficult situations we possibly can" to see how he responds to adverse situations.

"We haven't really talked about [a pecking order] very much, but his experience is definitely showing," Day said of Howard. "I think that he's played a lot of football before. And I think his combination on the field of being able to extend plays with his feet, run in the run game, pull the ball, we've seen that happen before, and then be accurate in the pocket throwing the ball, play-action, on the move. All those things put stress on the defense."

Beyond Howard, Julian Sayin is the most interesting name in Ohio State's quarterback battle. The freshman and five-star recruit in the Class of 2024 transferred to Columbus in January after being an early enrollee at Alabama

Day didn't rule out Sayin as a possible starter, noting that new offensive coordinator Chip Kelly has been rotating quarterbacks in practice.

"He's in the mix," Day said of Sayin. "Chip really rolls them. It doesn't matter if the ones, twos or threes, so you get an opportunity to see what guys look like. I think, sometimes, when you're young, you get two or three work, and sometimes it can look like a mess out there. 

"And so this has been a really good sample size to figure out where guys are at. But Julian's been competing his tail off and he'll continue to do that and he's got a very bright future. He's gonna have a really good summer."

While Howard and Sayin are relatively new to the Buckeyes' program, Day hasn't been deterred from starting an incoming transfer in the past. Justin Fields started at quarterback for Ohio State shortly after transferring from Georgia in 2019. However, quarterbacks Day has recruited out of high school have started over the last three seasons, with Kyle McCord being the team's starter last year.

After McCord transferred to Syracuse, Devin Brown was viewed as the in-house favorite to get the starting job. Day gave a bit of a telling comment on Brown's familiarity with the Buckeyes' system. 

"He's now into Year 3 and a lot of the things that we're doing is still what we've done in the past," Day said. "So, he probably feels the most comfortable out there with the offense, and you see that."

Brown was part of the quarterback battle with McCord last season, which carried into the opening weeks of the season before Day named a starter. Day didn't provide a timeline for when a starter might be announced, saying spring practices were more about preparation.

"Right now the focus is just getting these guys as many reps as we can, evaluating them," Day said. "But as we head into the preseason into the end of the season, that probably means getting guys reps in the game, so that they don't get put into a situation where they haven't played a lot of football before."



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