New Ohio State Quarterbacks Have Always Had Some Help, and Whoever Wins the Job in 2023 is Going to Have a Ton of It

By Johnny Ginter on March 24, 2023 at 10:10 am
Potential new Ohio State starting quarterbacks

Maybe it doesn't matter who actually wins the quarterback battle.

Yeah, things are starting to heat up during spring practices, but when the presumptive winner of the crown is able to throw to any one of a elite crew of wideouts, either Kyle McCord or Devin Brown are going to have one hell of a time deciding who'll help them pass for 5000 or so yards in 2023.

Hah, just kidding, because it's going to be Marvin Harrison, Jr., the best player in college football:

While it's unusual for a new Ohio State starting quarterback to have quite that level of talent at wide receiver to ease them into their fresh role on the team, incoming Buckeye QBs have been able to breathe a sigh of relief for years knowing who the BWROC (Big Wide Receiver On Campus) is that they could use as a security blanket.

Starting with Bobby Hoying all the way back in the Year of Our Lord Nineteen-Ninety Three, here are the passing and catching dynamic duos that Ohio State has fielded every time a mostly new and fresh-out-of-the-package starting quarterback has taken the reins of the offense:

  • The aforementioned Hoying had none other than Joey Galloway to throw to, and while Hoying initially split time with another quarterback, Galloway ended up with 946 yards in 1993 and Hoying ended up the undisputed starting quarterback in 1994.
  • Since it's hard to mark a clear line when Stanley Jackson and Joe Germaine absolutely separated themselves as starter, we'll skip to Steve Bellisari's first, difficult year as the starting quarterback in 1999; Bellisari completed less than 50% of his passes en route to a 6-6 season. But hey, think how much worse it'd have been without Ken-Yon Rambo (still one of the best all time names in college sports) racking up 833 yards.
  • It's easy to forget that Craig Krenzel was a first year starter in 2002, but once you remember that it becomes clear why Michael Jenkins ended up with over 1000 yards receiving (Chris Gamble caught half the passes he did for only 500 yards). Running back Maurice Clarett deservedly gets a lot of praise for powering that offense, but without Jenkins there essentially is no passing game.
  • Justin Zwick and Troy Smith split duties initially in 2004 before Smith eventually became the starter, so let's skip to 2007 and Todd Boeckman; Brian Robiskie ended up with 935 yards that season, but Brian Hartline chipped in a solid 694 yards as well with both wideouts having over 50 passes caught. Astute Ohio State fans might recognize Brian Hartline's name on the current coaching staff, but I can't for the life of me remember what he does. It's probably not relevant.
  • Terrelle Pryor took over for Boeckman very early in 2008, and Robiskie and Hartline once again were there for a new starting quarterback. This time, the connection wasn't as fruitful; as Pryor struggled with the passing game in a moribund Jim Tressel offense, both wideouts saw their numbers decline precipitously. Pryor eventually found his go-to guys with Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey, but this is one of the rare times that a new Ohio State starting quarterback struggled to make an instant connection with a wide receiver.
  • The 6-7 2011 season can almost completely be written off. Joe Bauserman was the presumptive starter, but he was quickly replaced by Braxton Miller for, uh, reasons. No wide receiver on this Luke Fickell-helmed team (Tatgate, remember?) had even 300 yards, or more than 14 passes caught (yes, really) in 2011. Cool.


  • Wide receiver Devin Smith was instrumental in the 2014 national championship campaign, catching 33 passes for 931 yards, but Michael Thomas' 54 catches for almost 800 yards was just as invaluable to J.T. Barrett and, eventually Cardale Jones. Also, remember when we couldn't figure out if it was "Cordale" or "Cardale"? That was funny. Anyway Jones and Barrett split time, annoyingly, in 2015, but Michael Thomas was there catching a lot of passes from both.
  • In 2018, Dwyane Haskins threw to everybody. Parris Campbell had over 1000 yards receiving, but when your quarterback is passing for nearly 5000 yards and 50 touchdowns, everyone is going to get a slice of the pie. This season probably says more about how Haskins was able to elevate the play of his wideouts than the other way around. The same could be said of Justin Fields' first year in 2019, when uber-talented guys like Chris Olave, K.J. Hill, and Binjimen Victor nonetheless all benefited from one of the most gifted passers in Buckeye history as much as he benefited from their skills.
  • We don't have to rehash too much about what C.J. Stroud did at Ohio State, but I do think it's important to mention that in 2021, Jaxon Smith-Njigba caught 95 passes for 1606 yards, and all of that happened in just one bowl game. Amazing.

Jokes aside, Smith-Njigba and Stroud's connection in 2021 is probably now the gold standard for this kind of pairing, but when you've got Marvin Harrison, Jr. to throw to, it feels like the sky is the limit for either McCord or Brown. Whether or not that will lead to a win over Michigan or postseason trophies remains to be seen, but it's one hell of a start.

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