Ryan Day needs to find the next face of his Ohio State football program this offseason.
While the last two seasons in Columbus have been mostly smooth sailing for Ohio State football head coach Ryan Day, he faces his toughest challenge to date: Picking the right successor to replace Justin Fields at the quarterback position.
The Kennesaw, Georgia native transferred to Ohio State after his true freshman season in Athens. Fields quarterbacked the Buckeyes to a pair of Big Ten Championships, two College Football Playoff berths and a national title appearance. Now that Fields has taken his talents to the NFL, Day needs to figure out what signal-caller on his roster will lead the Buckeyes to championships.
There are three candidates to replace Fields in Columbus: True sophomore CJ Stroud, true sophomore Jack Miller and true freshman Kyle McCord. Miller and Stroud were four-star recruits coming out of high school from Rancho Cucamonga, California and Scottsdale, Arizona, respectively. McCord offers a ton of promise as a five-star from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
CJ Stroud is the early favorite to win the job over Jack Miller and Kyle McCord
Though none of these coveted signal-callers have played any meaningful snaps for the Buckeyes, an advantage Day has here is he recruited every single one of them. Keep in mind that Fields transferred to Ohio State after a season at Georgia. Simply put, with Day entering year three in charge of the Ohio State program, we are getting further removed from Urban Meyer’s footprint.
While that is not necessarily a good or bad thing, it just means that Ohio State will take the shape of the type of players Day and his staff think can play winning football for the Buckeyes. What we need to understand is why Stroud is the presumptive frontrunner over Miller and McCord for the 2021 starting job. It is all about his perceived talent, as well as the time he has spent on campus.
Though Miller and Stroud are both four-stars in the 2020 recruiting class, Stroud was the No. 42 overall prospect, while Miller was the No. 334 player, according to the 247Sports Composite. While McCord was the No. 27 player in the 2021 recruiting class, he has only recently arrived on campus in Columbus. In short, he is a year behind Miller and Stroud in learning Day’s system.
Overall, Day is probably not going to a make a wrong decision here, but it could have an impact on Ohio State’s overall viability come playoff time. Ohio State is still the early favorite to win the Big Ten again, but if Day does not pick the best quarterback of the trio, maybe the Buckeyes come up short in Indianapolis or fail to win a College Football Playoff game vs. a likely southeastern power?
Fortunately, Day has ample time to gather information to make the best decision for his program.