Utah prep star competing for Ohio State’s starting quarterback job

Corner Canyon product Devin Brown is the more athletic but less experienced QB option for the Buckeyes.

(Jay LaPrete | AP) Ohio State quarterback Devin Brown, a Corner Canyon High School product, throws a pass during a spring football game in Columbus, Ohio. With two-year starter C.J. Stroud off to the NFL, the competition for a new starting quarterback takes center stage at Ohio State.

Columbus, Ohio • Ryan Day hopes to pick a new starting quarterback in the first couple weeks of preseason camp, but the Ohio State coach won’t rule out playing two QBs if the competition doesn’t produce a clear winner by the Sept. 2 opener at Indiana.

“Somebody has to emerge to be the starter (eventually),” Day said Wednesday, a day before the Buckeyes open practice. “And if you don’t know, you just keep pushing forward. I’d like for somebody to step up and for that to happen, but you just don’t know. Things happen.”

The contest to succeed two-time Heisman Trophy finalist C.J. Stroud pits Kyle McCord, a third-year player who backed up Stroud for the past two seasons, against second-year player Devin Brown.

Both are right-handed NFL-style passers and former nationally recognized prep stars known for their accuracy. They are also of similar size at 6-foot-3 and around 215 pounds.

The 20-year-old McCord has the edge in experience. In two seasons he’s completed 58 passes for 606 yards and three touchdowns. He got one start to spell Stroud in 2021.

The 19-year-old Brown — a prep star at Corner Canyon High School in Draper — considered to be slightly more athletic, saw scant time in mop-up duty last season and didn’t attempt a pass. He missed critical time in the spring after having surgery on a broken pinkie finger on his throwing hand.

Brown holds the Utah high school record for passing yards in a season (4,875 in 2021) and is third all-time for most passing touchdowns in a season (57).

Day, the fifth-year head coach, has been in this quarterback vacuum before, including beating out a more experienced QB to win the starting job at New Hampshire in the late 1990s.

As an assistant to Urban Meyer, Day shepherded Dwayne Haskins Jr. from backup to Heisman finalist in 2018. Haskins’ 50 touchdown passes that season is still a school record.

Justin Fields starred for two seasons after Day lured him from Georgia in 2019. C.J. Stroud hadn’t thrown a pass in college football before being named the starter for the 2021 season. He was a Heisman finalist in both seasons as the starter. The only stain on his resume was failing to beat hated rival Michigan in two tries.

“The expectations and standards are very high here,” Day said. “The guys who have come before have done an unbelievable job. So that is the expectation. We should be playing for a national championship, (the quarterback) should be a Heisman Trophy finalist and first-round draft pick. That’s been the standard, and we’ve got to keep building on that.”

Day acknowledged that neither of the young signal-callers is quite ready yet.

“It’s a good problem to have if you have a couple of guys you feel like you can put in a game and go play,” Day said. “But we’re not there right now, and we don’t know how it’s going to shake.”

The two quarterbacks are good friends and didn’t want to talk much Wednesday about having to compete against each other.

“I feel the best I’ve ever felt going into a camp before,” said McCord, who played high school football in Philadelphia. “Obviously, I’ve had the most experience I’ve had going into a camp. I think now more so than ever (I’m) focusing on myself, and I know I’ll be in a good position to put the best version of myself out there.”

Brown said competing against the Ohio State defensive starters is enough to worry about, let alone having to keep an eye on how McCord is doing.

“I mean every day has been the same for us,” said Brown. “We’re trying to get each other better. You know, we’re trying to see who can help this team win. That’s all we’re worried about. We’re worried about getting our guys better. Who’s going to get out there and beat Indiana week one?”