Quick Hits: Devin Brown Says People Who Think He'll Transfer “Don't Know Anything,” Emeka Egbuka Calls Jeremiah Smith A “Freak Athlete” and Will Howard is Impressed by Chip Kelly

By Garrick Hodge, Dan Hope, Andy Anders and Chase Brown on March 4, 2024 at 3:40 pm
Emeka Egbuka

Ohio State is ready to get back on the practice field.

Six players met with reporters on Monday on the indoor practice field at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on the eve of Ohio State's first football practice, including quarterbacks Will Howard, Devin Brown and Lincoln Kienholz and three offensive stars who stayed at Ohio State for their senior seasons: Running back TreVeyon Henderson, left guard Donovan Jackson and wideout Emeka Egbuka. 

Among the many topics discussed, Brown refuted any notion that he plans to transfer after spring practice, Egbuka called freshman wide receiver Jeremiah Smith a “freak athlete” and Will Howard gave his first impressions of Chip Kelly. 

Videos of the media sessions from the six players as well as bullet-point recaps of what each person said can be found below.

QB Will Howard

  • On watching Bill O’Brien leave Ohio State for Boston College: “It was the quickest turnaround I’ve had with offensive coordinators,” Howard said with a laugh. “We totally understand that Coach O’Brien had to do what he had to do, and it made a lot of sense for him and his family. There’s no love lost at all. But I think the move we made with Coach Kelly and getting him as quick as we did showed how invested Coach Day is in this year and how much we’ve invested in this year. That’s a heckuva hire. He’s a really good dude to be around and learn from.”
  • On his first impressions of Chip Kelly: “Really, really smart dude. … A ton of knowledge. He’s been around. He knows everyone. His schemes are really quarterback-friendly. … It’s a lot of really good stuff that he’s done.”
  • On Ohio State’s approach heading into 2024: “We know how much is on the line. We know how much we have already given to this season and invested in this team. I think we had a really, really good winter. The way that guys were bought in, the leadership we have on this team, the number of guys that decided to come back and come to this program – it’s exciting. We know what’s on the line. We’re chasing that one percent every single day. At the end of the day, we know our goal is to win and to win all of them.”
  • On the difference between Kansas State and Ohio State: “We won games at Kansas State because of the guys we had and the ‘togetherness’ we had. But we have that here, and we also have the talent. I’ve never been a part of something like this, and I am excited to see where this leads.”
  • On Chip Kelly’s scheme: “Easy throws. He does a lot of good stuff in the RPO world. I think a lot of the things he’s teaching us that we don’t have to work harder; we just need to work smarter. (We need to get) the ball to the guys on the outside that we have and let them go make plays in space. That’s gonna be big for us this year. He’s putting me in the best position possible to be a point guard out there.”
  • “I got one more year. I didn’t come here to be nervous or timid or anything like that. I’m ready to go. … It might not all be perfect, and I might make a few mistakes, but that’s how I’m gonna learn. Nothing is too big for me. Nothing is too big for this team. … It’s gonna be a lot of learning across the board, but I am excited for that. I want to embrace that. That’s the cool part about this.”
  • Howard said he will need to earn a leadership role on Ohio State’s roster and knows it won’t be given to him: “You don’t want to come in here yelling at people. They’re not gonna respect you. They’re not gonna listen to you. At least not until you have that baseline of a relationship. If they know that they can respect me and trust me to do my job, then I can go out there and bring them along when something is not right.”
  • Howard said he took some Ohio State teammates to a rodeo a couple of weeks ago.
  • Howard said he has good knowledge of Ohio State’s offense but spring practices will test how much he actually knows. “I haven’t repped it yet. My knowledge of it is good. I feel comfortable with my knowledge of it. It’s just going out there and actually doing it.”
  • On Ohio State’s offense after having O’Brien and now Kelly in the building: “We are who we are. We will run what we run. … For the most part, we are gonna run Ohio State’s offense with some wrinkles here and there. It hasn’t changed much. Foundationally, it’s very similar. That’s been good for me.”

QB Devin Brown

  • Brown said he felt “sick” that he couldn’t help the team more in the Cotton Bowl. He said the ankle injury he suffered in that game was the same injury he had suffered on his other ankle against Penn State during the regular season.
  • Brown said the injury didn’t prevent him from participating in winter workouts. He didn’t have to undergo surgery.
  • On Ohio State bringing in Will Howard: “That’s Ohio State. I mean, you’re always gonna have the best players no matter what. I didn’t care coming in here who was in here, I’ve never cared who was in here. I’ve said it from the start, I could care less, I’m going to come in and compete, and that’s always been my motto.”
  • Brown said he has “all the confidence in the world” that he can win Ohio State’s starting quarterback job. “I’m always going to think I’m the best quarterback in the room and the best quarterback in the country, so I’m going to attack it like that.”
  • Brown said he has no intention to transfer from Ohio State: “I’ve said it through and through, I’m a Buckeye, and I’m here to compete no matter what.”
  • On people who say he is going to transfer from Ohio State: “Honestly, I think people are cowards. I think people have this thought in their own heads that I’m gonna leave and I’m a quitter, but that’s never been me. These people live wherever, in their mom’s basement, saying stuff about me and they don’t know shit. Excuse my language, but they don’t know anything. They don’t know who I am, they don’t know who I’ve been, and that’s always who I’ve been.”
  • Brown says Chip Kelly has “been awesome” and he feels like he has “a really good relationship” with Kelly already. Both Kelly and offensive line coach Justin Frye recruited Brown when they are at UCLA.
  • Brown says he thinks the biggest difference in him from this time last year is that he’s learned how to take on a leadership role.
  • Brown thought he “was very close” to winning the starting quarterback job last season. He thought he was ahead of Kyle McCord at one point in the competition.
  • Brown said he has been impressed by Julian Sayin and Air Noland’s attention to detail as freshmen.
  • Brown said he has had “a sour taste” in his mouth since the Cotton Bowl and that has fueled him entering the start of spring. “I’m just ready to unleash his flame and to go out there and do something.”
  • On Jeremiah Smith: “He’s a freak. He’s gonna be next level. I mean, that guy handles things the right way. Does everything right in the weight room. And I was throwing with them yesterday, and like, every time I throw to him, it’s like ‘Geez, this kid’s a stud.’ He’s gonna be a freak.”

QB Lincoln Kienholz

  • Kienholz said the most beneficial part of winter workouts was “coming in with a mindset to work hard every day and push others.”
  • Kienholz said playing in the Cotton Bowl was helpful for him to get experience and to get more confident going forward into spring football.
  • When asked about the quarterback competition, Kineholz said everyone in the quarterback room is going to keep working hard and push each other, but at the end of the day, the coaching staff will “play who they want to play” so he has to come in and keep working hard.
  • Kienholz said if he becomes OSU’s starting quarterback he’ll relish the opportunity, but if not, then he’s looking forward to have another year to build as a player.
  • Improving from his freshman season is Kienholz’s biggest goal for this spring along with continuing his development.
  • In winter workouts, Kienholz estimates he’s gained around seven pounds of muscle and has slightly increased his speed.
  • On Will Howard: “He’s a really nice guy, he’s super funny. He’s super down to earth. We’ve been hanging out here and there as well. He’s one of my top friends on the team.”
  • Kienholz said college football has turned “into a huge business” and sometimes thinks it gets lost that 17 to 18-year-olds are making decisions that will impact them for four to five years.
  • Kienholz said it will be cool to be in the upcoming college football video game this summer and estimates he’ll probably play it a lot and jack up his stats a little bit.
  • Kienholz said he feels good about his knowledge of Ohio State’s playbook heading into this spring.
  • On Chip Kelly: “It’s been awesome so far. He’s a super knowledgeable guy. He knows a lot about the offense and football in general. I think it’ll be a good year. We’re learning the basics of his offense right now so I don’t really know a lot, but I know he’s been around the NFL with a bunch of good quarterbacks so I’m excited to see what he has in store for us.”

RB TreVeyon Henderson

  • On Quinshon Judkins coming to Ohio State: “I view it as a good opportunity. I’m excited he came here to Ohio State. I am thankful that God led me to welcome him in as a brother and to love on him and to treat him with respect as I should.”
  • On having Judkins and others take away some of his workload:  “I feel like it’s good. When you’re that guy and taking those reps, you get tired and things like that. But having another fresh back that can come in like Quinshon, James (Peoples), Dallan (Hayden), Sam (Williams-Dixon) – all those young guys can also come in.”
  • On his first impressions of Peoples and Williams-Dixon: “They had a great winter. They are really mature. That’s one thing I respect about the freshman class is how mature they are and how they are on top of their business. I think they got a good opportunity to do something special here.”
  • On what led him to return to Ohio State for another year: “Really just understanding God called me back here to do something bigger than football, and that’s to continue leading people to him and bring glory to his name.”
  • On when he made his decision to return to Ohio State: “I made that decision after the Missouri game. Before the Missouri game, I was actually leaning on leaving. I was praying on it, but God rescued me in that decision. I am so thankful that he rescued me in that decision. Physically, I was ready to leave for the league but spiritually and in my relationship with the Lord, where I am at with him, I wasn’t ready.”
  • Henderson said he had a conversation with Gee Scott Jr. and Xavier Johnson after the Cotton Bowl about returning to Ohio State. He said Scott and Johnson encouraged him to focus “on the right things” and look for where he could grow spiritually in 2024. Henderson decided that the best place he could grow would be at Ohio State rather than in the NFL.
  • On whether he had conversations with other teammates about coming back: “It was definitely brought up, the topic of coming back to beat ‘The Team Up North,’ win a Big Ten (championship), win a national championship. But, like I said, God kept reminding me that I feel like he’s ready to do something greater than what we’re trying to do. Like, man, he’s ready to change lives on this team with the coaches, the staff. I see it.”
  • On Chip Kelly: “I heard of his background, and I remember him being at Oregon when I used to play NCAA (football) when it was made.” He continued: “I think it’s good what he’s doing and what he’s adding. I can’t wait to get coached up by him. I think, man, it’s gonna be amazing to see. … I think it’s gonna be an explosive offense, as it’s always been. That’s what we’re gonna work hard to show.”

WR Emeka Egbuka

  • On Ohio State’s approach heading into 2024:  “I feel like it’s different every year. You got to get acclimated to who you are as a team, your new identity and new leadership roles. With a lot of people returning, there’s a lot of the same faces. … We kind of know what it is. … We’re looking to compete this spring.”
  • On Will Howard: “He is a funny dude, a very likable guy. We hit it off instantly. We’ve thrown a couple of times not in team-organized stuff but on the weekends and after workouts.  … I’m really excited to see what he can do this spring. He’s a phenomenal talent, a smart quarterback, a veteran guy. I’m hoping he can bring some experience.”
  • On his health entering spring football: “I feel great. I’ve been working with my trainers. We have the best training staff in the nation. They are getting me right every single day to put my best foot forward this spring. I look forward to doing that.”
  • On where he will line up this spring: “Probably bouncing around to different spots, honing my craft on the inside and the outside in preparation for the next level.”
  • Egbuka said it excites him to see the competitive nature of Ohio State’s quarterback room. “I’m excited to see the competitive spirit come out in those guys.” Egbuka said C.J. Stroud wouldn’t have been the same quarterback for the Buckeyes if he didn’t have to compete with Jack Miller and Kyle McCord before the 2021 season.
  • On when he knew he would come back to Ohio State: “I probably knew I was coming back – I don’t know the date – but a day before I posted (on social media) that I was.” Egbuka said he took “all the time I needed with the decision to consult my family and to consult God about it.”
  • Egbuka said each member of Ohio State’s 2021 class that chose to return for another season made the best decision for themselves. “We want to rally together, but ultimately I was gonna make the best decision for myself. …Coming back made the most sense for me.”
  • On Jeremiah Smith: “Freak. Freak athlete. … He put his head down and worked.” He continued: “There’s nothing he really can’t do. He runs fast. He jumps high. He’s strong. He’s a natural pass-catcher. I mean, yeah, he’s a freak. … I think he has a bright future here.”
  • On Carnell Tate being ready for a bigger role: “He’s been ready. He’s been ready since he was in high school.”
  • “I’ve always felt like a leader ever since I was growing up. The leadership role is something I feel a lot of pride about in any area of my life, but in something I am so passionate about, such as football, I have even more drive to be a leader. Being an older guy in my fourth year, I have a lot of experience on the field. I’m just trying to pass down that knowledge I’ve acquired.”
  • On Brandon Inniss: “Brandon doesn’t get enough praise. He’s as mature as anyone I have ever seen. He handles his business. He’s a super competitor, too. Him coming in with Carnell helped a lot because they push each other every single day.” He continued: “I’m super excited for Brandon’s future. He is wise beyond his years. He’s learning the offense lightning quick. He’s very talented in pass catching, run after the catch, big play – there’s nothing he can’t do.”
  • On his potential to play inside and outside in 2024: “Coming into college, I never played the slot. … It felt natural going back (to the outside) for me in the Cotton Bowl. … I feel very confident with the ball in my hands and my ability to gain yards after the catch.” He continued: “Having that YAC ability gives us opportunities for huge plays.”
  • On Will Howard: “He has something special to him. … From what I saw on film, he looks like he can really sling it. He’s really accurate.”

LG Donovan Jackson

  • On his decision to come back: “A lot went into it. I talked to guys in my class and where their heads were at, but at the end of the day, it came down to my decision and I thought I just wasn’t content with my college career yet. ... I feel like, in terms of what I want to show for myself, what I want to leave behind, it wasn’t quite where I wanted it yet.”
  • Jackson added that he felt like a weight was lifted off his shoulders once he made his decision to return.
  • The team’s shortcomings against Michigan and in other losses also motivated Jackson to come back. “I feel like, yeah, we’ve won games, but we haven’t won (all) the games that we’ve wanted to win here.”
  • Jackson reached out to a lot of former Buckeye linemen in the NFL for advice, including Paris Johnson Jr., Nicholas Petit-Frere and Thayer Munford. He also spoke with C.J. Stroud.
  • On developing a rapport with likely new starting center Seth McLaughlin: “I feel like in terms of chemistry, there’s only so much you can do as an O-lineman with not hitting something. So we’re big, we go out to eat. We’ll go out to eat, we’ll hang out. We’re just trying to build that chemistry. He’s the new guy in the group so we’re just trying to introduce him in, but he’s a great person. He’s fit in just fine.”
  • The Thurman Café was the first spot the Ohio State linemen went to this offseason, Jackson said, and he gave a quick demo on the technique of eating their massive burgers. “You have to squeeze from the back. When people squeeze from the middle, the burger slips out through the back. ... It’s a science.”
  • On the development of left tackle Josh Simmons: “Josh has taken great strides in terms of just the film room, getting better. Obviously, he has a year under his belt now, so he’s expected to play faster, more free. ... He’s being more confident in himself, and that’s all you can do as a guy who has had a year under his belt.”
  • Jackson didn’t name any clubhouse leaders along the right side of the offensive line, but is excited to see how the competition for the open spot plays out this offseason. “That’s the crucible of spring football. A lot of guys go in but only one guy can play. So just kind of fun to see what’s going to happen.”
  • Jackson’s final play at Michigan, when he tripped and fell down to allow a quarterback hit on Kyle McCord that led to a game-sealing interception for the Wolverines, has been a giant motivator for him this offseason. “Any time I lift, I lift with intent so I know that I’m stronger, faster in that situation than I was before. ...  It’s definitely a driving factor of what I do waking up in the morning to put myself in the right position to where I don’t do that again.”
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