After four-star Tennessee quarterback Brock Glenn decommitted from the Buckeyes in November, Ohio State was in need of a talented signal-caller in the 2023 class.
Enter Lincoln Kienholz.
A four-star prospect from South Dakota, Kienholz is the No. 14 quarterback and No. 205 overall recruit in this year's class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. Head coach Ryan Day and quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis wanted him, but there was a minor hiccup. Kienholz was already committed to the Washington Huskies.
He rewrote the state of South Dakotas football history books by hand, they may need to make room for him on Mt. Rushmore. The kid from Pierre, SD is making his way to Columbus. Welcome to The Brotherhood Lincoln Kienholz#CHO23N | @LincolnKienholz pic.twitter.com/yzEAIH8aHt— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) December 21, 2022
No matter, Day and Dennis put on a full-court press for Kienholz, inviting him to Columbus for an official visit on Nov. 26 to see Ohio State's battle with Michigan in the 118th edition of The Game. Everything went well on the visit, but the coaches still had work to do to secure Kienholz's commitment.
Once the recruiting dead period lifted in December, Dennis visited Kienholz in South Dakota as coaches from Washington's staff, including Huskies head coach Kalen DeBoer – who hails from South Dakota — also made in-home visits. Day made a trip to South Dakota with Dennis a week later, showing the strong-armed signal-caller the Buckeyes' interest in him was indeed serious.
On Dec. 14, Kienholz made a few decisions — big ones, at that. The first was to decommit from Washington, and the second was to become a Buckeye.
The Kienholz File
- Class: 2023
- Size: 6-3/185
- Pos: QB
- School: Pierre T.F. Riggs High School (Pierre, South Dakota)
- Composite Rating: ★★★★
- Composite Rank: #205 (#14 QB)
"I chose Ohio State because they've had a really good past with quarterbacks. They've put the last three or four into the NFL," Kienholz told Eleven Warriors of his choice to change course and become a Buckeye. "They also established a really good relationship with me, the coaches and the recruits. I think they've been a really good school to get to know."
Kienholz said Luke Montgomery and Carnell Tate were the primary recruits that reached out to him during the recruiting process. However, he noted that Montgomery was the prospect who maintained constant communication with him throughout the last few months and even introduced him to several other Ohio State commits when Kienholz visited Columbus for The Game on Nov. 26.
The Pierre, South Dakota, native believes Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis made their desire to have him be a part of the 2023 recruiting class clear before his official visit. Still, Kienholz claims Day and Dennis made an even stronger push in recent weeks as signing day crept closer.
"Their message was that they really liked me and that I needed to bet on myself," Kienholz said. "They pushed that. It was to come (to Ohio State) and get developed, have a chance to win a Heisman and maybe a national championship, and then get into the NFL."
As for what Day and Dennis said they admire about Kienholz's playstyle, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound prospect said his athleticism while running and throwing the football stood out to the Buckeye coaches.
"They said they like my playmaking — both with my feet and with my arm," Kienholz said. "I think they really like that, and they said they could use that a lot with their offensive scheme."
A playmaker is exactly what Kienholz was for T.F. Riggs High School. Across his four seasons on the varsity team, Kienholz racked up 9,100 passing yards, 104 touchdowns and only 29 interceptions as a thrower while adding 3,503 yards and 44 scores as a runner. He also played defensively in all four years, collecting 62 tackles, nine interceptions, one tackle for loss, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries in that span.
And if that's not enough to prove Kienholz's playmaking ability as a high school athlete, perhaps his all-state basketball selection in 2021-22 after averaging 19.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game will do the trick. Or maybe his .472 batting average with six home runs and a 3-0 record with a 1.24 ERA as a pitcher can serve as proof.
Whether QB @LincolnKienholz ends up signing with Washington or Ohio State— Tanner Castora (@Tanner_Castora) December 14, 2022
Thats a Division I Shooting Guard
Thats a Division I Baseball player (Shortstop)
Theyre signing one of the best overall HS athletes in the United States.. With humility far past his age. pic.twitter.com/irWwFmyzIn
Kienholz should acclimate quickly from a schematics standpoint when he arrives at Ohio State, which won't happen until at least June as he wraps up his senior basketball and baseball seasons at T.F. Riggs. Kienholz ran a spread offense primarily for the Governors, one that mirrors Day's offensive game plan with the Buckeyes.
He displayed a strong arm at the high school level, but his windows will be much smaller and close faster in college against FBS opponents. With that said, he could require some time to acclimate himself to that level of play early in his career, in addition to weeks and months to develop his body physically and grow into his frame.
Still, Kienholz could be in store for a promising opportunity in his early years at Ohio State, as he will be only the third scholarship quarterback on the roster behind Kyle McCord and Devin Brown. McCord and Brown are expected to battle for the starting role this spring, and it's not inconceivable that the loser would transfer, leaving room for Kienholz to be the primary backup in his first year and allowing him to see the field late in already-decided games for the Buckeyes.
Additionally, five-star quarterback and No. 1 overall prospect in the 2024 class Dylan Raiola decommitted from Ohio State last weekend, which means that — at this moment — no competition is coming down the pipe for Kienholz in what would be his second season as a Buckeye. Day and Dennis would prefer to fill that void quickly, but whoever they secure in that class and beyond will have an uphill battle to beat Kienholz in a competition.