Kyle McCord has been making a push for early college enrollment ever since his sophomore year at Philadelphia’s St. Joseph’s Prep.
Long before he ever committed to the Buckeyes, the future Ohio State quarterback pieced together a plan with head coach Tim Roken and other members of his school for an unprecedented early graduation, taking advantage of summer classes and the prep school’s flexibility in helping create a class schedule allowing him to do so.
Side by side with Buckeye receiver commit Marvin Harrison Jr. and Clemson linebacker commit Jeremiah Trotter Jr., the three 2021 stars have been on track now for two-plus years to be the first students in the school’s history to graduate early, McCord says.
Even with the Philadelphia Catholic League’s recent decision to pull the plug on a 2020 fall sports season and kick the can down the road to the spring, McCord told Eleven Warriors he has already made his mind up to not divert from that early enrollment plan.
“Whatever happens, I’ve already talked to my coach about it. I’m gonna early enroll either way,” McCord said, adding that Harrison is likely to enroll early as well, though he said he doesn’t want to speak for his teammate. “That was the decision I made once this whole thing went kind of crazy and states started canceling. I just made my mind up that early enrolling was gonna be the best decision for me, especially with how hard I worked academically to be able to do it, it would kind of just go to waste if I didn’t. I’d miss out on my last high school season if it does get pushed to spring so I’m hoping that doesn’t happen. But either way, I’m gonna early enroll.
“(Roken) sent a text out to Marvin and I, and he was like, ‘I hope we get one last season together this fall.’ But he was really understanding of it. Honestly, it wasn’t a hard conversation to have with him. He was a big reason why I was able to early enroll. He’s done a great job with helping me out there. He was completely understanding of it. I’m just hoping that it doesn’t get pushed back to spring for that reason because I really want this last season to spend with my brothers.”
As the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Thursday, there is still hope for St. Joseph’s Prep to continue forward with a fall season. Though the PCL pushed football and all other fall sports to the spring, St. Joseph’s Prep is planning on breaking off as an independent, with its first game of an 8-10-game season beginning on Sept. 18, and there is still hope that they will eventually be eligible for the state playoffs and play three or four additional games.
Now, they are just waiting for that plan to get approved. If it falls through, however, McCord’s own plan will not.
“If it does get pushed to the spring, then I’ll just train for three or four months, whatever it is, and try to learn Ohio State’s playbook as fast as possible so that I can get in there in January and hit the ground running,” McCord said.
For a young player who is set to be the future of the Buckeyes’ offense as a possible two- or three-year starter and be the team leader at the most important position in college sports, it’s imperative for him to get into the program as quickly as he can.
“It’s huge. It’s a step up, obviously, from what I know in high school football. It’s a lot more mentally and physically tough,” McCord said. “So I think, for me, these next few months to get ready to prepare for college – whether that’s getting my body right, eating right on a diet, getting myself physically ready and then obviously mentally getting the playbook down and learn at a higher level – is huge.”
“if (Justin Fields) leaves, it would be an open battle in the quarterback room, and that would be a great situation to walk into and have a chance to compete for the job literally as soon as I step foot on campus.”– ohio state quarterback commit Kyle Mccord
Adding further emphasis to why the five-star quarterback needs to get to the coaching of Ryan Day and Corey Dennis sooner than later is the chance to compete against C.J. Stroud and Jack Miller for the title of QB1 – especially if Justin Fields pulls the likely move of opting out of his final season to prepare for the NFL draft.
“That would be awesome, to be able to step in that quarterback room early,” McCord said. “If Justin stays, that would be great to be able to sit behind him for a year and learn how he prepares throughout the week and prepare for some of the stuff I haven’t seen yet and kind of learn from his ways a little bit. But if he leaves, it would be an open battle in the quarterback room, and that would be a great situation to walk into and have a chance to compete for the job literally as soon as I step foot on campus. Either way, it’s a win-win situation, I think, just walking in that quarterback room and into that situation.”
For a brief moment, it looked like McCord and his fellow 2021 early enrollees were going to get the opportunity to suit up for Ohio State during a winter or spring season, whether it started in January, February or March. That was something Day pushed for heavily just one day after the Big Ten officially canceled the fall football season, and he let commits like McCord know that he was advocating for that.
This week, though, West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons – the chair of the NCAA's Division I Football Oversight Committee – told the AP and ESPN that the committee will recommend to the NCAA Division I Council that early enrollees not be eligible to play games in the spring. Though it’s probable they will be allowed to still practice in the spring, as early enrollees are allowed to do during a normal spring season, the official decision of whether or not they can play in games will come on Sept. 16 when the council holds its next meeting.
“When the news broke that the Big Ten canceled and pushed the season back to the spring, that was the first thing (Day and I) talked about was if I would be eligible to play,” McCord said. “At the time, it sounded like I was gonna be able to play, but obviously with the situation that the NCAA might shut that down, they haven’t really said recently what their plan is. But knowing them, I’m sure they have a plan in place. Whether or not we can or cannot play, they’ll have something for us, which is good to know.”
And just like the parents of current Ohio State players have been telling their sons to control what they can control when it comes to a canceled fall season, McCord is taking the likelihood of not playing games in the spring as best as a player can in this situation.
“Obviously, that’s out of my control, and it’s out of Ohio State’s control,” McCord said. “It’s not really anything we have a say over, so if they rule that then obviously it means we’ll have to do it. I know we all thought that being able to play in the spring would be huge for our development. We’re preparing like that’s gonna be the case – that we’re gonna be able to get out there in January and play – but if that’s not the case then it is what it is. Hopefully we’ll be able to practice because that would be huge. That would be really helpful for our development as well. Maybe not as helpful as playing a game, but practicing would still be huge.”