Kyle McCord Entering Spring with Same Mindset As Previous Years Despite Raised Stakes

By Dan Hope on February 21, 2023 at 10:10 am
Kyle McCord

There’s no denying the stakes are higher for Kyle McCord this spring than they were in his first two years at Ohio State.

While McCord had the opportunity to compete for Ohio State’s starting quarterback job in 2021 as a true freshman, it would have been an upset if he had beaten out C.J. Stroud to win that competition fresh out of high school. With Stroud back with the Buckeyes last season after an excellent first season as a starter, McCord knew he wouldn’t be the starter in 2022 unless something happened to Stroud.

This spring, however, everything is on the line for McCord. As the only quarterback on the roster who’s actually thrown a pass for the Buckeyes, he’ll enter the spring as the frontrunner to start for Ohio State this season. 

Yet he’ll face what’s expected to be a very real competition with redshirt freshman Devin Brown, which Ohio State quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis says will start with a “blank slate.” Given that McCord has only two more years of collegiate eligibility and Brown is two years away from being NFL draft-eligible, whether or not McCord wins the competition this offseason could determine whether he ever becomes Ohio State’s starting quarterback.

Even so, McCord says his approach entering this spring isn’t much different than it was for the past two years.

“The first day that I got here as a Buckeye, I put my head down and got to work. And now it's just the same with a little bit more of an opportunity in front of me,” McCord said during a visit to the Ronald McDonald House of Columbus earlier this month. “But you know, it’s still working hard, doing the right things on and off the field. So nothing too crazy.

“You go on social media, you would think your life changed, but honestly, I mean, my mindset’s just been the same. Just trying to be the best version of myself, trying to push myself to become the best player I possibly can be. Even when C.J. was here, that was my mindset, and now that he's gone, that’s still my mindset.”

Ryan Day and Dennis want all of Ohio State’s quarterbacks, regardless of where they stand on the depth chart, to prepare like the starter each week and constantly work toward becoming better quarterbacks. So McCord doesn’t necessarily need to do things in a different way than he has for the past two years to become the starter now.

“Guys want to come in and they want to play and you know what, they want to play right now. That's part of the reason that they're at Ohio State,” Dennis said. “But on the flip side, as a player, you have to internally look at it and you say, ‘Alright, what do I need to do that when my opportunity comes that I'm ready to maximize on it?’ So I don't think it's as much of focusing on ‘I should be playing’ or ‘I want to play,’ it's ‘When my time comes, am I ready to go?’”

While McCord and Brown are both gifted passers who were ranked by the 247Sports composite as the sixth-best quarterbacks in their respective recruiting classes, and Brown may offer more of a threat with his legs, McCord enters the quarterback competition with one clear advantage: Experience. 

Not only has McCord been at Ohio State for one more year than Brown, but he’s also thrown 58 passes in game action, completing 41 of them for 606 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. He even started a game for the Buckeyes against Akron in 2021 when Stroud was sidelined by a shoulder injury. And while he threw fewer passes as a sophomore than he did as a freshman, McCord believes his second year as the No. 2 quarterback has given him a leg up over where he would have been if he was competing for the starting job a year ago.

“I think your freshman year is a lot about learning, making mistakes and learning from those mistakes. And I think last year was taking that next step of learning from the mistakes you made and then starting to put it all together,” McCord said. “Last year, I felt like I was at a really good spot where I wasn’t like overwhelmed with defensive looks or how much stuff we're putting in during the week. So it was a good year, just another year of preparation, another year of just sharpening your craft and all that. So I'm never gonna complain about the two years that I got to prepare.”

“The first day that I got here as a Buckeye, I put my head down and got to work. And now it's just the same with a little bit more of an opportunity in front of me.”– Kyle McCord on his mindset entering this spring

Brown, on the other hand, enters his second year at Ohio State having never thrown a pass at the collegiate level, as he did not attempt any passes in his two appearances as a true freshman. But the same was true for Stroud when he won the starting job two years ago, and the Buckeyes aren’t going to pick a starting quarterback based solely on who’s been around longer.

“Kyle's now going into year three, Devin's going into year two. So I'd say Kyle has one more year of experience and has started one game. He's played in games more than Devin,” Day said. “But it's going to be a heck of a competition. I'm really looking forward to seeing it. They both have a little bit of a different skill set, and it's gonna be fun to watch them compete this spring.”

After waiting his turn patiently for the past two years, McCord certainly has his sights set on becoming the Buckeyes’ new starting quarterback this season. Still, he views Brown as a friend rather than a rival and expects them both to get the best out of each other as they compete for the job.

“We got here last year and we kind of hit it off right away. And any time you spend that much time in a room with a guy at meetings and practice and lifting and just everything that goes into it, you get pretty close pretty quickly,” McCord said. “And we both know what it is. I think we're both pushing each other on and off the field. So I couldn't ask for a better relationship. That's my guy.”

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