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Why was Kyle McCord the choice for Ohio State at quarterback?

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Kyle McCord was the pick for Ohio State at quarterback in the 2021 class. (Kyle McCord/Courtesy)

Recruiting Question of the Day

Why was Kyle McCord the choice for Ohio State at quarterback?

Have a question about Ohio State recruiting? This is the place for you, five days a week. Submit your questions on Twitter or on the Lettermen Row forums. Check in daily to see what’s on the mind of Buckeyes fans all over the country. Today we check in on why Kyle McCord was the right fit for the Buckeyes despite so many young quarterbacks having early interest in Ohio State.

Ohio State Recruiting Question of the Day

I don’t know that there’s really an answer here that will satisfy everyone, but I’m going to try my best to answer this based on my understanding of Ohio State’s line of thinking combined with my own personal read on the situation.

Outside of Clemson, I don’t think there’s a single program in the country that has the clout with quarterbacks and wide receivers that Ohio State does at present. Because of that, there’s been a line of quarterbacks (and receivers, but that’s for another day) making their way to Columbus for visits. Without fail, they’ve left raving about Ryan Day and his offensive system and the overall status of the program.

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J.J. McCarthy is the highest-ranked quarterback offered by Ohio State in 2021 but will likely end up at Michigan. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

What Day was able to do with Dwayne Haskins in the last year-plus has made him as hot a commodity as there is for future college quarterbacks. Because of that, there was a serious need to seriously examine and evaluate the options this spring, knowing that when they did that, there was a risk of making the wrong choice.

But sometimes the biggest mistake is in not choosing at all because programs can wait right out of the game for players that can be difference-makers in a program. Ohio State has extended scholarship offers to eight different quarterbacks in 2021, and of that group, Kyle McCord, is the seventh-ranked prospect, only ahead of Connecticut prospect Jack Brandon and almost 100 spots lower than the top-ranked quarterback with an offer, Illinois standout J.J. McCarthy.

Though I know I’m going to be accused of wearing scarlet-colored glasses when I say this, if the Buckeyes had wanted to land a commitment from McCarthy ahead of McCord this spring, I feel very confident in saying they could have. The Buckeyes were the favorite for McCord, McCarthy and North Carolina’s Drake Maye — at least that’s what he told Lettermen Row in April — and were also close to the aforementioned Brandon and Caleb Williams of Maryland.

So why McCord? I asked a good source close to the program that when it became apparent he would be the choice, and the answer isn’t that complicated.

“Ohio State thought he had the most upside,” the source shared. “His throwing motion, the size, the mental makeup, the football IQ and the accuracy.”

That makes sense, of course, but there’s also the extra stuff that you have to consider.

Maye, for example, may have as much upside, but the odds are not in the Buckeyes favor that he’d end up in Columbus whenever he’s ready to commit — and that could be a year from now or longer. Sure, the relationship is good now and the Buckeyes were in a solid early position. But his North Carolina roots are very deep and he’s so close to Clemson that it seems certain it will get involved as well, and then you start diving into the whole return-on-investment way of thinking.

J.J. McCarthy is a super-talented young player and a state champion like McCord is, but maybe physically doesn’t have the same long-term growth potential. He also doesn’t help open the door to a recruiting area that has long been lost to Ohio State.

There are so many levels and so much nuance to these decisions that it’s nearly impossible to attribute any decision to one specific reason, especially at quarterback. It’s the game’s most important position and a recruiting choice that if made incorrectly can throw a real wrench into a program’s plans. Whatever the reasons, Ohio State saw everything they wanted and needed in Kyle McCord, and that’s why he’s the young man being tasked with leading the Class of 2021.

The best way to stay on top of all that recruiting #stuff? Subscribe to Lettermen Row’s Recruiting with Birm newsletter. 


Birm is Lettermen Row's Director of Recruiting and the site's primary Ohio State sports photographer. A Toledo, Ohio native, Jeremy has been in similar roles for and and has been covering the Buckeyes for seven years.

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