There are signs Ohio State’s quarterback recruiting could be shifting

Ohio State landed its quarterback in the 2023 class last week when Lincoln Kienholz flipped his commitment from Washington to the Buckeyes. On the first day of the early signing period, Kienholz signed his letter of intent, marking him as the next in the growing line of highly-ranked quarterbacks under head coach Ryan Day.

In Kienholz, Ohio State gets a four-star prospect and the No. 13 quarterbacks in the 247Sports 2023 rankings. He will hope to file in behind the likes of Dwayne Haskins, Justin Fields and CJ Stroud to flourish under Day and quarterback coach Corey Dennis.

“We always just try to do the best we can, year in and year out to find the right quarterbacks for that room,” Day said during his Signing Day press conference.

Kienholz commitment keeps the Buckeyes’ impressive quarterback recruiting streak alive, but may also give an indication of how the Scarlet and Gray will recruit the position going forward. Actually, there have already been signs.

First, while Ohio State’s quarterback production has been unquestioned under Day, it hasn’t always come from the top-ranked player in the class and sometimes the Buckeyes have had to adjust their plan. Haskins was committed to Maryland before flipping to the Scarlet and Gray – albeit before Day arrived in Columbus – late in the process. Fields played a full season at Georgia before transferring to Ohio State. Stroud wasn’t even on the Buckeye radar until before his senior year and joined a class that featured Day’s hand-picked Jack Miller.

While there is the example of Kyle McCordwho Day targeted as the guy in the 2021 class and who stuck with his commitment to the Scarlet and Gray for 20 months, Ohio State has had to pivot at times. Quinn Ewersthe top-ranked player to ever commit to the Buckeyes, elected to reclassify from the 2022 class to 2021 joining McCord for a year before transferring to Texas. Dylan Raiola, the top-ranked player in the 2024 class who committed to Ohio State in May, decommitted on Saturday. Both made the staff have to change their plans for the position in their respective classes.

“When is the right time to go in on quarterbacks? Is it early in the process? Is it late?” Day asked rhetorically on Wednesday. “There’s certainly some great positives to jumping on somebody early, you identify who that person is early on. But when you get on somebody late like Lincoln, you got to recognize what they did their senior year, same thing with CJ, same thing with Devin (Brown). And you get four years of work there. And I think in their situation, that’s worked out really well for us. But there’s also been times where we’ve recruited Kyle and guys early on in the process and that works, too.”

Haskins, Fields and Stroud are all examples of how waiting on a quarterback can work, as all three were Heisman Trophy finalists during their Buckeye careers. McCord, if he wins the job next season, has a chance to show that the early-target path can also be successful, assuming the player sticks with his commitment.

But there’s also been signs that Day and the Scarlet and Gray are shifting away from what has seemed lately to be their preferred style of quarterback. Other than Fields, Day had primarily recruited and worked pocket passers with the Buckeyes. Haskins, Stroud, McCord, even Miller, who transferred to Florida, all preferred to move the ball via their arm rather than their legs.

Devin Brown was a change of pace as more of a playmaking quarterback, similar to what became the norm under Urban Meyer. Raiola too has been described as an athletic and mobile quarterback, one that no one at Ohio State was happy to see decommit. Kienholz is also dynamic and isn’t afraid to run with the ball.

“A multiple sport athlete, and a very good multiple sport athlete,” Day said of the Pierre, South Dakota native. “Played multiple sports but played them very, very well. I liked the way he competed, liked his athleticism.”

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While there has been much made of Stroud’s lack of running during his two years as a starter, Day showed he has no issues with mobile quarterbacks as long as they are smart runners. Fields rushed for 867 yards and 15 touchdowns in his two seasons with the Buckeyes, winning back-to-back Big Ten titles and playing in two College Football Playoffs, including a national title game appearance.

With every recruiting class, philosophies will change based on what is available. But the quarterback position can be a different animal.

Ohio State has found ways to be successful at quarterback in different ways but recent recruiting of the position gives a potential idea of ​​how the Scarlet and Gray can be the most successful going forward.

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