With Devin Brown sidelined, Kyle McCord has a chance to make a statement in Ohio State Spring Game

On3 imageby:Jesse Simonton04/12/23


Just last Friday, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day expressed his hope that the Buckeyes’ quarterback competition between Kyle McCord and Devin Brown would be wrapped up at the close of spring practice but that “we’re just not there yet.”

“It’d be nice to see one of them kind of separate from the other,” Day said. 

“It would be nice to have it be black and white. I can’t tell you it is right now. I think they’ve both done really good things, I think there’s things they both will have to improve on. I think if they were sitting right here, they’d both tell you the same thing. There’s no games, there’s no agenda here. It’s two guys competing and one day one guy has the upper hand and the next day the other guy might have the upper hand.”

Well, a late-spring hand injury has now shaken up the dynamics of OSU’s battle to become QB1. 

Brown, a former 5-star recruit who redshirted in 2022, will now miss the Buckeyes’ spring game with a finger injury on his throwing hand. He had a procedure on his hand Wednesday, per Day, who noted that the surgery shouldn’t sideline Brown for much of the offseason. 

“He should have a pretty full summer,” Day said. 

The injury is obviously ill-timed and, at minimum, a setback for Brown, who was in a tight race with McCord to replace CJ Stroud, a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist and a guy with 85 touchdowns the last two seasons. 

Entering the spring, many believed Kyle McCord started with a slight advantage in the competition because he has more experience in Day’s system (a third-year junior), has started a game for Ohio State and was high school teammates with All-American wideout Marvin Harrison Jr.

In 12 career appearances, McCord has 606 career passing yards with three touchdowns and two picks. He’s averaged over 10.2 per attempt and completed 72.5% of his passes, serving as Stroud’s primary backup the last two seasons. 

And yet, the 6-3, 222-pound junior from New Jersey hasn’t grabbed a stranglehold on the opening this spring. Perhaps he will Saturday, though. 

While Day wasn’t ready to pick a starter before Brown’s injury and remains unlikely to do so anytime before training camp in the fall, McCord has a major opportunity this weekend to leave a lasting impression heading into the summer. 

There was some concern entering the spring that whoever didn’t win the QB battle would opt to enter the transfer portal during the second window. That no longer seems like a potential outcome, though. 

Still, with Brown out, McCord will receive all the first-team reps in Scarlet & White Game. Oregon State grad transfer Tristan Gebbia, a seventh-year senior, will serve as OSU’s backup on Saturday. 

The Buckeyes are banged up at receiver this spring — no Emeka Egbuka, Julian Fleming or Xavier Johnson on Saturday — but McCord will have a chance to showcase his connection with Harrison, easily the best receiver and arguably the top-non quarterback player in all of college football in 2023. He’ll also get to prove how capable he is operating amid live bullets with an offensive line in transition. 

It’s clear Kyle McCord can’t outright win Ohio State’s QB competition on Saturday, but he can make a statement one way or another — either entering the offseason with some established momentum or by squandering his golden opportunity and giving Brown a fresh opening to grab the job this summer. 

“This is practice 13, that’s still not a ton of practices. You get double that in the preseason. We’ll keep building, keep growing. You’re never sure how these things shake out anyways,” Day said. 

“As we know, in the past there’s times we needed two quarterbacks, three quarterbacks, whatever it is. I think after the spring we’ll go through, take a look at the numbers, who graded out a champion, the completion percentage, those type of things. That’ll help us.”