If any of the three Ohio State quarterbacks who have been competing for the starting job all year are upset that Quinn Ewers will soon be joining that competition, they didn’t show it on Tuesday.
As they met with reporters for the first time all year just about 16 hours before the Buckeyes’ first practice of fall camp, all three quarterbacks who are currently on the roster expressed similar sentiments about the competition.
They’re all making each other better. They’re all trying to get better every day. They knew they were going to have to compete when they chose to come to Ohio State. They all want to start, but they’re also teammates who view each other as brothers, not enemies.
“We understand that we all want the same goal,” C.J. Stroud said. “But it’s not in any aspect of we hate each other or anything like that. We’re all brothers, we all love each other and I think when you come here, we compete every day.”
Stroud said it’s made him “so much better” to have Jack Miller and Kyle McCord pushing him every day whether on the practice field, in the weight room or in the meeting room. Miller said “we all push each other every single day.”
“I think this is how you get the best out of yourself is being in a competition like this with guys that are just as good as you,” Miller said. “I think it’s how you get better.”
McCord said Miller and Stroud, who have both been at Ohio State for one year longer than him, have helped him get better since he arrived in Columbus in January.
“Coming in, I didn’t really know how the room was going to be, but then they took me under their wing right away,” McCord said. “When I first got here, they really helped me learn the playbook and giving me little tips here and there. And then just out on the practice field with them is really good, just to see how they do things. And then you can pick up little things off of their game. So I think we all helped each other get better, especially over this spring and summer.”
Stroud says the quarterbacks will take the same approach with Ewers whenever he arrives later this month.
“We’ll accept him in the room with open arms, just like we did Kyle,” Stroud said. “At the end of the day, it’s all a brotherhood. I don’t believe in having beef with my teammates or anything like that. Me and Quinn are really cool anyway, so I’m definitely excited to get him here.”
McCord said he doesn’t think Ewers’ reclassification will change anything about how the quarterbacks approach the competition.
“Obviously, the three guys that are here have just been competing the entire time, and I think even if you add another guy, it’s still gonna be the same competition every single day,” McCord said. “And so I think that brings out the best in all of us.”
While Ewers isn’t on campus yet, both McCord and Stroud have already met him – most recently, Stroud spent a bit of time with Ewers at the Elite 11 Finals earlier this summer – and they expect him to be a good fit in the quarterback room.
Specifically, Stroud said he is excited for Ewers having the opportunity to begin making money off of his name, image and likeness, which Ewers and his family have said is a primary reason why he decided to skip his senior season at Southlake Carroll High School and enroll at Ohio State a semester earlier than expected.
“I’m happy for him, man. He’s a good kid, and I’m happy that he’ll be able to make some money,” Stroud said. “At the end of the day, if you have some money to go make, you better go make that money. So I’m happy for him.”
Miller said he does not know Ewers yet, but said he’s fine with another quarterback joining the competition. And while Ewers will certainly have substantial ground to make up when he arrives if he’s going to make a run at starting this year, Miller said he wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Ewers could pick up the offense in just a few weeks.
“It’s a very rare situation. It’s what you come to Ohio State for though,” Miller said. “At the end of the day, you come here to compete and be in that room with the best guys in the country. So now we’re doing it.”
“I think this is how you get the best out of yourself is being in a competition like this with guys that are just as good as you.”– Jack Miller on Ohio State's quarterback competition
The quarterbacks said Ryan Day has not yet talked to them about Ewers’ reclassification. Day, who was not allowed to talk about Ewers on Tuesday because he has not actually signed a letter of intent or enrolled at Ohio State yet, said he wants to keep the focus on the players who are already on campus as preseason camp begins.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Day said. “But right now, the focus is on this team and practice No. 1 tomorrow.”
Over the next 29 days, and ideally within the first two weeks of camp, Day and quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis will need to choose a starting quarterback for the season opener at Minnesota. For now, though, they’re trying to keep the quarterbacks focused on their own development rather than what the pecking order could be at the position, knowing they could need multiple quarterbacks to play this season anyway.
“For us to go win championships and get to where we need to get to, that room has to be strong, and they’ve gotta pull for each other,” Day said. “We’re gonna need that entire room to be strong. Last time they won a national championship, it took several guys to go win it, and I know that’s probably going to be the case this year.”
McCord, Miller and Stroud all say they’ve taken that message to heart and are doing what they can to put themselves in position to help the team this year regardless of what their role might be.
“Coach Day told us in our meeting, he said, ‘You said you guys are going to want to not like each other, but the most successful teams here, you guys know, the (2014) national championship team, you guys used all three quarterbacks,’” Miller said. “So I just think everybody’s gonna play a role.”