Devin Brown and Lincoln Kienholz Ready to Compete with Will Howard for Starting Quarterback Job, Not Thinking About Transferring From Ohio State

By Dan Hope on March 4, 2024 at 5:01 pm
Devin Brown and Lincoln Kienholz

Although it’s widely assumed that former Kansas State quarterback Will Howard will be Ohio State’s starting quarterback this season, neither Devin Brown nor Lincoln Kienholz plans to step aside without taking their best shots at winning the job.

Furthermore, there’s been plenty of speculation since Howard’s arrival that both Brown and Kienholz could be candidates to enter the transfer portal after this spring. But neither of them is thinking that way going into Tuesday’s start of spring practices.

Brown, the longest-tenured quarterback on Ohio State’s roster entering his third year as a Buckeye, likely would have been the frontrunner to start this season if Ohio State hadn’t added Howard. Even with the arrival of Howard, a 27-game starter at Kansas State who earned second-team All-Big 12 honors last year, Brown is entering spring with confidence that he can beat out Howard to win the starting quarterback job.

“I have all the confidence in the world,” Brown said. “I'll never doubt myself. I'll never have any wavers in anything like that. 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.”

Since he arrived at Ohio State as a freshman in 2022, Brown has repeatedly said he is all in with the Buckeyes and ready to compete with any quarterback Ohio State brings in. That mindset has not changed going into his third year as a Buckeye.

“I’ve said it through and through, I’m a Buckeye, and I’m here to compete no matter what,” Brown said.

“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.”– Devin Brown on competing for Ohio State’s starting quarterback job

Brown gave a defiant response when asked about people speculating that he will transfer if he doesn’t win the starting job this spring.

“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,” Brown said. “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.”

Like Brown, Kienholz is confident in his ability to win Ohio State’s starting quarterback job and says that is his goal entering this spring. But Kienholz also said his mindset isn’t that he will immediately transfer if he doesn’t win the job.

Kienholz still has all four years of his collegiate eligibility after preserving his redshirt last season and wasn’t even at Ohio State for spring practices, so he knows he still has a long way to go in his development and that this year’s quarterback competition doesn’t have to make or break his Ohio State career.

“I think if I come in and I'm the guy, then great. But if not, then I have another year to build on that,” Kienholz said. “I think we all have that mentality that we all want to come in and be the guy. But I mean, honestly like right now, I don't really have like an order of who's gonna be who, I'm just gonna keep coming in and just keep working hard.”

Kienholz believes competing with Howard will make him a better quarterback in the long run regardless of how the competition ultimately plays out, and he says he trusts Ryan Day and Ohio State’s long-term plans for developing him.

“I trust Coach Day’s philosophy and everything with me,” Kienholz said. “I think Columbus has been really good to me. I mean, school is cool here, too, as well. So I think it's not really just playing like right away. I think I need time to develop and everything like that. And I think we'll just go from there.”

Both quarterbacks said Day was transparent with them about the decision to add Howard, telling them that he wanted to add depth and experience to the quarterback room. Brown said Day told them Howard was likely to become a Buckeye before the transfer portal closed, so they could have had the opportunity to transfer elsewhere before spring if they wanted to.

That said, neither of them wanted to run away from the opportunity to compete for the job in a room that also now includes five-star freshmen Air Noland and Julian Sayin.

“That's Ohio State. I mean, you're always gonna have the best players no matter what,” Brown said. “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 (not) care less, I'm going to come in and compete, and that’s always been my motto.”

While Howard’s experience will give him the upper hand in the quarterback competition when it begins in earnest with Ohio State’s first spring practice Tuesday, Day has not promised Howard the starting job. He’ll have to earn that this offseason, and Day wants to see the competition play out before making any declarations about who will start at quarterback.

“It's gonna be a fierce competition this spring,” Day said in February.

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