As the rain fell in Columbus early Monday morning, the new No. 1-rated quarterback in the class of 2021 practiced for the first time with Ohio State.
In what Ryan Day described as a “unique situation” multiple times during a press conference after Monday's press conference, former Southlake Carroll High School standout Quinn Ewers arrived in Columbus on Saturday, just 19 days before OSU’s season opener against Minnesota, after he reclassified from the class of 2022 to 2021. By Monday, Ewers was sporting a black practice jersey with No. 3 on the center.
hey, yall pic.twitter.com/cq4QK1w5fo— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) August 16, 2021
Because he’s the nation’s top-rated recruit, and because of the unusual nature of his early arrival, there may not be a college football player on the planet that has stepped foot on a campus with more pomp and circumstance on day one than the mullet-sporting quarterback. Just over a month after name, image and likeness endorsement deals for college athletes became legal, Ewers made a Texas-based beverage company named Holy Kombucha famous, although Day admitted Monday he has yet to try his new freshman signal-caller's drink of choice. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Monday that Ewers had already signed with agencies Sportstars Inc. and Rubicon Talent for NIL representation.
Day, on the other hand, was less focused on hyping up his new dynamic quarterback and more concerned with making sure Ewers knew where the locker room and facilities were. It also didn’t sound like Ewers' first practice was a rigorous one.
“He’s just trying to figure out where to stretch out right now,” Day said. “Obviously he just got here in the middle of camp. We have a good plan in place to get him going here. He’s had a great attitude and I’m happy he’s here.”
Ewers is joining an already crowded quarterback room of C.J. Stroud, Kyle McCord and Jack Miller III. As Day said Monday, Stroud has started to create separation from his other two competitors and is the favorite to start the season opener Sep. 2 against Minnesota. Ewers, meanwhile, is “a long way from that.”
But as past college football seasons have seen, it’s never out of the question that a true freshman phenom takes over for the incumbent starter at some point, even if it's not in week one. Trevor Lawrence replaced Kelly Bryant early in Clemson’s season in the fall of 2018. Jalen Hurts was benched for Tua Tagovailoa at halftime during the national championship game one year earlier. Day didn’t rule out Ewers making an appearance for the Buckeyes at some point in 2021.
“I don’t know. It’s a long, long way to January, so I guess anything could happen,” Day said. “We’re just going to take it one day at a time and see how everyone is working in that room ... We’ll kind of see how things shake out. We’ve got another week of camp; once we break on Saturday, then it’s all kind of Minnesota. That’s when you start looking at depth charts and where guys are. But we’re a long way away from that when it comes to Quinn.”
For now, Day wants Ewers to focus on developing and learning Ohio State’s playbook. The OSU coach who has yet to lose a game in the regular season said Ewers’ teammates have been receptive to him joining the squad midway through fall camp and understand the circumstances.
“It’s just one of those things where we have to start embracing different situations like this and I know our guys are going to do the same thing,” Day said. “It’s not like we haven’t had high-profile guys come into the program. That happens here and he’ll do a good job of working his way in and earning the respect of the team, and they’ll embrace him.”