Five-star quarterback and No. 1 overall recruit Quinn Ewers is now an Ohio State Buckeye, and the quarterback room in one of college football's most intriguing offseason quarterback battles just got a little more crowded.
Ewers, of course, reclassified to the Class of 2021 on Monday and is enrolling at Ohio State. What Ewers is doing is rare and likely not a predictor of future trends. His decision to leave high school a full year early is a result of Texas' new name, image and likeness rules preventing high school athletes from monetizing their brands. Considered the best high school quarterback prospect since Trevor Lawrence, Ewers, who hails from powerhouse program Southlake Carrol High School, is set to graduate this summer. He'll join the Buckeyes for preseason camp, which begins this week.
But what happens when Ewers gets to Columbus? Is he really good enough to start by Week 1 against Minnesota? Is he better off redshirting? Will a competition spill into the season? A heated battle is already underway with redshirt freshmen C.J. Stroud and Jack Miller, as well as freshman Kyle McCord.
Here's what Ewers' addition to the Buckeyes' locker room means.
Ohio State's QB room is uniquely loaded
Stockpiling talent isn't anything new to coach Ryan Day and this Buckeyes staff. They are as good as any program in the country at assembling the type of blue-chip roster needed to compete for national championships. But what Day has in the quarterback room is unique. As mentioned above, Ewers will arrive at Ohio State with great fanfare as a five-star signal-caller and the No. 1 overall prospect for 2021.
But he's hardly joining a group of scrubs.
Stroud, generally considered the frontrunner to start to this point, was a five-star QB and the No. 29 overall player in 2020, according to 247Sports. McCord was also a five-star, per 247Sports, and the No. 27 overall player in the 2021 cycle. The number of programs that can claim three five-star quarterbacks on the same roster at the same time is small. Florida had one in 2007 with Tim Tebow, Cam Newton and John Brantley. So did USC that same year with Mark Sanchez, John David Booty and Aaron Corp. But no team in the more recent era of 247Sports recruiting rankings can say the same.
With Quinn Ewers enrolling at Ohio State, I'm pretty sure the Buckeyes are the first team in the internet era to have 3 five-star QBs on their roster at the same time:— Chris Hummer (@chris_hummer) August 2, 2021
CJ Stroud - No. 29 in 2020 Top247
Kyle McCord - No. 27 in 2021 Composite
Quinn Ewers - No. 1 in 2022 Composite
Who was projected to start before Ewers arrived?
It's tough to say. Day was mum about it at Big Ten Media Days, noting that he wanted to have a starter by the second week of camp. That allows QB1 to get much-needed reps with the first-team offense. And regardless of the winner, Day was looking for a three-or-four-year starter.
Oh, the plights of college football's elite. Ohio State now has a legit four-man quarterback battle filled with blue-chip passers and there's only one starting job. The pulse out of Columbus seems to be that Stroud has the edge, but that mileage may vary. Regardless. he and Miller are in their second year with the program. McCord at least has spring ball under his belt. Ewers, meanwhile, will be way behind the others by the time he joins the team.
Then again, maybe Ewers' talent will be enough. If none of the three quarterbacks have stood out so far, and there's a scholarship available, what's one more added to the mix? True freshmen quarterbacks are starting all the time these days. The 24/7, 365, 7-on-7 nature of high school football has at least bridged the gap somewhat to the next level. And sometimes quarterbacks who practice well don't always perform well in games. The bright lights just hit differently for some players.
So can Ewers really win the job?
Maybe, but it'll be hard to pull off this quickly. All of Ohio State's quarterbacks in this competition were coveted at one point in their high school careers, but only Ewers has that rarified feel to him. The idea that he needed a senior year of high school for his development is misplaced; he's considered to be so gifted that all the development he'll need to succeed at Ohio State will be at ... Ohio State.
Does that mean he starts right away? It's a crowded field, and coming straight into the competition with less than a month before the first game doesn't leave much in the way of a learning curve. Realistically, Ewers probably ends up somewhere on the depth chart as a backup, and possibly buried.
The more intriguing question, actually, is whether he'll get his shot later on. A lot of that may depend on who Ohio State's starter is and how he performs. If Day gets his wish of a multi-year starter, others lower on the depth chart -- Ewers included -- will need to be patient. As we've seen with the transfer portal lately, though, those coveted players aren't always patient. Ewers' NIL potential throws another layer into this story as well. Unless you have a massive social media influence, the best way to earn money is to play.