A quarterback or two not named C.J. Stroud could see the field against Akron this weekend, but Quinn Ewers is not likely to be one of them.
In fact, comments from Ohio State’s head coach at Tuesday’s press conference made it seem unlikely that the former top-rated five-star quarterback will see snaps during his true freshman season.
“I think he would tell you that it’s been hard for him,” Day said. “Kind of jumping into this thing during the preseason and then being out for a little bit of a stretch. And so we’re trying to get him as much information as we can, but there’s a lot of catching up to be done there.”
Ewers reclassified from the class of 2022 to join the Buckeye program a year early in August, as the nation’s top prospect would not have been able to benefit from lucrative name, image and likeness opportunities as a high school senior at Southlake Carroll in Texas.
Ewers has had no trouble cashing in on his NIL potential since coming to Columbus, as the freshman reportedly signed a multi-year, $1.4 million autograph deal with GT Sports Marketing on Aug. 31, along with other partnerships with companies like Holy Kombucha and Ricart Automotive.
On the field, it’s been a slower roll for Ewers, who Day said simply won’t get the reps necessary to climb to the top of the depth chart in his first year.
“He’s trying, he’s working at it, but once we get in the season it’s very difficult to get guys to catch up and get them the reps, because we need to get the guys reps who are gonna play in the game,” Day said.
Ewers was actually sidelined soon after joining Ohio State toward the beginning of fall camp, as Day alluded to an undisclosed injury that forced Ewers to miss some time in mid-August. Ewers is getting some reps now, Day said, but with Stroud still struggling to gain his own footing, it would be counterproductive to take snaps away from him in practice midseason.
“He’ll get a few reps, and he’ll get some reps today, but I can’t sit here and tell you he gets enough reps to be able to prepare to play in a game right now,” Day said. “It’s really impossible once you’re into the season to give somebody reps, and these young quarterbacks, they need as many reps as they can just to get ready to play in the game. We try to figure out ways to get him a few things after practice and get some work there. And certainly individual.”
Stroud has played every offensive snap for the Buckeyes so far this season, but with a nagging shoulder injury bothering him and what looks like Ohio State’s least threatening opponent next on the schedule, many are wondering if one of the backups will get a crack at running the offense.
When it comes to Ewers, Kyle McCord or Jack Miller, though, Day said they have to earn opportunities in practice before they are given to them in a game.
“If those guys want to play, they have to practice well, they have to prepare every day, because they have to gain the confidence of the guys that are in that offense, and that’s part of it,” Day said. “The minute you can start to put that in practice, you’re gonna get more opportunities in a game, that’s just how it works. You don’t just walk in and deserve reps, that’s not how it works.”
Ewers doesn’t appear close to receiving the keys to the Ohio State offense in 2021, but Day isn’t too concerned about the backlog of talent in his quarterback room – outwardly, anyway – even in the age of the transfer portal.
“Someone said, ‘Boy, we have a really hard problem because we have so many great young quarterbacks.’ Well, we have to find the quarterbacks who can play, and one thing that wouldn’t be good is if we didn’t have any quarterbacks,” Day said. “That’s a problem. Having good young quarterbacks is not a problem.”