In less than two weeks, Ryan Day saw one of his better arms transfer but brought in two more quarterbacks and landed a 2021 commitment to shore up the position.
There were several reasons why Philadelphia four-star quarterback Kyle McCord decided to pull the trigger on his commitment to Ohio State on Tuesday morning – the coaching staff, the offensive philosophy and system, the University altogether. But one thing that stood out to the No. 8 2021 quarterback the most was when head coach Ryan Day told him that he was the top quarterback on his 2021 board.
Even though McCord had been in contact with new quarterback coach Mike Yurcich the most during his recruitment, it was still Day, who has the NFL quarterback coaching experience and is in his first season of trying to follow a legendary head coach, who ultimately sealed McCord’s commitment.
That’s what the future of Day’s tenure will have to look like for one of the most important positions in sports.
“Ever since I first visited in February, I just felt like it was the perfect fit,” McCord told Eleven Warriors on Tuesday. “There’s no other program or coaching staff I’d rather play for, so why wait when I know it’s the one?”
When it seemed like Ohio State’s quarterback room might fall short for the 2019 season after Matthew Baldwin, who was likely going to be the backup to sophomore transfer quarterback Justin Fields, entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal, it was imperative that Ohio State add another scholarship quarterback. The only two left on the roster were Fields and West Virginia graduate transfer Chris Chugunov. Sophomore walk-on Danny Vanatsky was the third and final player for a position that Day likes to have four players manning.
Ironically enough, Chugunov had the most Ohio State experience among the three quarterbacks with his one game played against Rutgers in 2018. He also played just more than three full games for West Virginia.
Day needed to not only plan for the long-term, which he had by creating good relationships with top 2021 quarterbacks J.J. McCarthy, Drake Maye, Carlos Del Rio, Miller Moss, Caleb Williams and McCord, but he also needed to prepare for the short-term. It didn’t take long to find answers.
About a week after Baldwin’s announcement, 2019 California quarterback JP Andrade, a prospect that threw for just under 10,000 yards and rewrote Bonita High School’s record books, committed to Ohio State as a preferred walk-on. He conceivably was the answer for the short-term and long-term. But it wasn’t enough to back up Fields with another walk-on.
The day following Andrade’s commitment, Kentucky transfer quarterback Gunnar Hoak, who was a standout at Dublin Coffman High School just 15 minutes away from Ohio Stadium, announced his plans to transfer to Ohio State. Now, the Buckeyes will have five quarterbacks on the roster in the summer and one in Hoak with some playing experience and a good skillset.
Coing hoe!! pic.twitter.com/XsGbsskISL— Gunnar Hoak (@GunnarHoak12) April 28, 2019
Even before the Baldwin transfer, Day had developed a relationship with 2020 Arizona quarterback commit Jack Miller that maintained the high school junior’s comfort in the program after Urban Meyer’s departure, locking in a quarterback through the 2023 season.
Day needed to not lose Miller in the midst of adding quarterbacks with experience and eligibility remaining, and he walked the line well. But with that, Miller had still committed to a program led by Meyer. Day hadn’t brought in a true scholarship quarterback yet, with four years of eligibility left and a passion for entering and developing within the Ohio State program.
That changed with McCord. And it all happened within five days.
“Given the background they have with NFL and college quarterbacks, I feel like they are going to give me the best coaching and preparation to play at the next level,” McCord said about Day and Yurcich. "The situation at Ohio State is very similar to the one at our school. Our head coach left and is at Temple now and our offensive coordinator is now our head coach. So I have no problem committing to a first-year head coach, and I have complete confidence in Coach Day."
Ohio State now has a dynamic starting quarterback in Fields, who isn’t guaranteed to meet expectations but has promise, a solid backup in Hoak, an experienced mind in Chugunov and two walk-ons for increased depth.
Fields could extend his stay until 2022, and when he leaves the program there could be a position battle between McCord, who will be a sophomore, and Miller, who will be a junior. That’s looking very far into the future, though, for a position that is seeing new rates of turn over, especially when neither quarterback is signed yet.
But the fact that the conversation could be had is a remarkable feat by Ryan Day.