Quarterback a question mark for Ohio State with McCord set to transfer

Ohio State fans hoped Kyle McCord would be another C.J. Stroud or Dwayne Haskins Jr.

His head coach might have been happy if he played more like Craig Krenzel.

McCord turned out to be none of the above in his first year as a starter, and now he’s leaving the Buckeyes after three years in the program.

The junior quarterback announced Monday morning he is entering the transfer portal after leading the Buckeyes to a their second straight second-place finish in the Big Ten East.

“I’m extremely thankful for my time at Ohio State,” McCord wrote in a social media post. “Playing in the Scarlet and Gray was truly an honor. I’m grateful for all of the life-long relationships I’ve made along the way here in Columbus. My teammates, my brothers, I’m appreciative for each and every one of you.”

He also thanked Ohio State head coach Ryan Day, quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis, offensive analyst Todd Fitch and OSU fans before getting to the bottom line.

“With that being said, I’ve decided to enter the transfer portal to explore other opportunities.”

On Sunday, Day was noncommittal when asked if McCord was sure to be his starting quarterback next season.

“Yeah, I’m not gonna really get into all that right now,” Day said one of several times the topic was broached. “I don’t think I’m there yet, but yeah, we’ll just kind of see how the practice goes.”

Ohio State is set to play Missouri in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29.

The quarterback in that game figures to be redshirt freshman Devin Brown of Gilbert, Ariz., true freshman Lincoln Kienholz of Pierre, S.D., or senior Tristan Gebbia, a transfer from Oregon State.

“It’s not just in that positions to try to figure out,” Day said. “It’d be good to just to get out there and have these guys practicing and working because there’s a couple of different phases to the bowl practice.”

Early in the month, the Buckeyes will work on fundamentals before moving on to game-planning for the Tigers.

They are set to travel to Dallas on Dec. 23 then have another week of preparation.

“There’ll be several practices to kind of get evaluation,” Day said. “We’ll be competitive early on and going against each other, and we’ll keep looking at it and ultimately it’s going to be who gives you the best chance to win the game.”

A junior from New Jersey, McCord was 11-1 in his first season as the starter for the Buckeyes.

He was named third-team All-Big Ten after completing 3,170 yards and 24 touchdowns with six interceptions, but the previous four Ohio State signal-callers were all named Big Ten Quarterback of the Year in their first seasons at the helm.

Stroud, Haskins, Justin Fields and J.T. Barrett were all Heisman Trophy finalists as well, exemplifying the high standards established at the position for Ohio State over the past decade.

McCord had a completion percentage of 65.8 and passing efficiency rating of 161.6, both the lowest of Ohio State’s first-year starting quarterbacks since Day arrived as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2017.

Two of McCord’s picks came in a 30-24 loss at Michigan that cost Ohio State a chance to play for a Big Ten championship or the national championship.

“Kyle got better as the season went on,” Day said Sunday. “He had a little bit of those ankle injuries that he worked through. He showed toughness there. Certainly the Notre Dame game, he played really well down the stretch, so I think there was growth there for sure, and I think he’s a good quarterback, I do. After every year, you evaluate everything and try to figure out what to do next, but I think there was a lot of progress made this year.”

What Ohio State does next at quarterback remains to be seen.

Brown batted McCord for the starting role during the spring and preseason, a competition that was not officially closed until the third week of the season.

Brown also appeared in two games as a “Wildcat” short-yardage quarterback, but that experiment was short-circuited by an ankle injury suffered against Penn State on Oct. 21. He has completed 12 of 22 passes for 197 yards with two touchdowns and an interception this season.

The 6-foot-3, 213-pound Brown is viewed as more mobile than the 6-3, 215-pound McCord, but Brown and Kienholz are still very much in the mold of drop-back passer Ohio State has favored in the Day era after leaning on dual-threat quarterbacks under Urban Meyer.

The 6-2, 200-pound Kienholz appeared in two games and completed 4 of 5 passes for 25 yards.

Brown and Kienholz were both four-star prospects in high school, as is incoming freshman Air Noland of Fairburn, Ga.,

Day could look for his next starter — or another competitor — in the transfer portal or let those three battle it out next year.


Friday, Dec. 29

Ohio State vs. Missouri, 7 p.m., ESPN, 1410

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