Ohio State’s quarterback fight officially began Tuesday morning.
As the Buckeyes finished stretching and headed to their position groups, we got our first look at Kyle McCord and Devin Brown. McCord left for her positional exercises in her black training jersey, wearing his regular No. 6. Brown made people look twice. He changed his number to 33 this offseason in honor of Hall of Famer quarterback Sammy Baugh
“He’s a legend,” Brown said. “That’s the original quarterback number for me.”
On the field, there wasn’t much difference between the two during the media’s 30-minute open session.
McCord did the first reps as the group started the day throwing on the run, curling to their left. There was only one miss between the two, with Brown sailing up a pass. Otherwise, they showed good mobility and accuracy on solo drills and targeting receivers and running backs.
Ohio State kept things simple during these times, and reporters saw no drills that would have tested McCord and Brown’s decision-making.
That’s going to be a crucial part of the quarterback fight, and coach Ryan Day said more of those tests are coming soon.
“The first few days without pads, you’re just building a foundation,” Day said. “That was today. If we’re back quickly after the break, there will be many more competitive situations.”
A key part of the quarterback fight will also be their leadership skills, and Day liked what he saw of them on the first day of practice.
“I’ve heard that even after a good game or a bad game, it doesn’t matter,” Day said. “It’s our job as quarterbacks to lead the team and propel the team down the field and get touchdowns, and being that leader is vital. I have a feeling we’re going to have a great supporting cast. The quarterback doesn’t have to be superhuman; You just have to routinely play routinely.
Both Brown and McCord understand that and have focused on being leaders this offseason. A key moment in their transition was the rehearsals leading up to the Peach Bowl when CJ Stroud was in New York for the Heisman ceremony. They used this time to push each other. After Stroud left, they remained focused on growing in that space.
From the outside, it looks like the two are handling the competition well. They remain close and even share laughs with some reporters after their Tuesday interviews. Despite the fight, they continue to help each other out with movies and throw together.
One of the most notable quarterback fights in the country didn’t happen between the two friends.
“We both know the situation. We were great at it,” Brown said. “We don’t try to separate each other or fight over representatives or recipients. We want each other to be better off.”
One day in a new era for Ohio State football, the Buckeyes are far from crowning a new starting quarterback. But the competition is officially underway.
Further observations and insights from the beginning of the spring exercises:
Kyle McCord vs. Devin Brown: Ohio State quarterback breakdown in 2023
Where will Melton compete?
Mitchell Melton remained an unknown entry this spring.
After missing the entire 2022 season with a knee injury, Melton had been mentioned by Day as someone expected to miss spring. Instead, he was on the field for Tuesday’s 30-minute Open period. However, the 6-foot-3, 245-pounder was cleared for single practice only.
There has been a lot of talk about what position he will play in this season. He is listed as a linebacker on the official spring football roster, but he has practiced with the defensive line to begin training.
Melton will be a strong candidate for the “Jack” position as the Buckeyes return Jack Sawyer to a more traditional defensive end position alongside JT Tuimoloau.
With Melton’s health still in question, defense coordinator Jim Knowles isn’t trying to put too much pressure on him. He just wants Melton to be healthy and back in the form he was so excited about before the injury in last year’s spring game.
“When I got here, we moved him from linebacker to front and started experimenting with him in the jack position. He jumped out,” Knowles said. “He really did it to train (Larry) Johnson and I. I just want to see him back there.”
Why Igbinosun stands out
It looks like a four-man rotation at cornerback is expected to shake out, at least when Spring Ball begins.
Denzel Burke was paired with Jordan Hancock and Jyaire Brown was paired with Ole Miss transfer Davison Igbinosun in the early training sessions.
Igbinosun is listed at 6ft 2, the tallest of the corners, and looks exactly like it. He’s also a good weight at 187 pounds; Only Burke weighs more in the unit at 190 pounds.
He also moved well, but because of his size you can’t miss him in the group. Igbinosun’s length helped him stand out in film when Ohio State recruited him and led to a good first workout.
“He looked good out there today. I like its length,” Knowles said. “He got his hands on a lot of balls. He also quickly confused it. I joke with him that he has that jersey strength and experience in the SEC and has played a lot of football. I think he will bring a lot of competition into the space.”
Burke off to a strong offseason start
Those on the program have nothing but good things to say about Burke at the moment.
Physically he looked great on Tuesday but that’s no surprise after what people saw at winter training.
Ohio State’s top corner came into this offseason focused on improving after a checkered sophomore year. That’s exactly what he did.
“He noticed. His physical development and the way he’s competed,” Knowles said. “I run the defense personnel through a draft. We design our team to see what we think of each player. Denzel did great in it and everyone saw the offseason.
The first day was good for Burke. Knowles said he handled more passes than he did all of last spring.
“He seems on point,” Knowles said.
Offensive line change
Matthew Jones and Donovan Jackson were, as expected, the first-team guards when practice began. However, Ohio State made some changes to the tackle.
Josh Fryar was supposed to be one of the starting guns, but he played at right flank last year. The Buckeyes head into the spring with him at left tackle and work their way through a contest from Zen Michalski and Tegra Tshabola at right tackle.
“It’s hard to tell on day one, but I don’t think anyone looked out of place,” Day said. “We’ll get a great score when we go through these 15 practices.”
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(Top Photo by Kyle McCord: G Fiume/Getty Images)