The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics about the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about the arrival of graduate transfer Gunnar Hoak as part of Quarterbacks Week? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.
What does Gunnar Hoak bring to the table when it comes to QB depth other than being another body in the room
— Vince Stinnett (@Vinsaniti) July 7, 2019
After a turbulent offseason at quarterback, it wasn’t exactly a secret that Ohio State needed to add at least one arm to the depth chart. And considering the timing and the marketplace, at some point it was possible the Buckeyes might have to consider an option that wasn’t a perfect fit.
But that wasn’t necessary when Gunnar Hoak became available after entering his name in the transfer portal, coincidentally right as the Buckeyes were ramping up the search to replace Matthew Baldwin. A graduate transfer with SEC experience at Kentucky who grew up in nearby Dublin with direct family ties to Ohio State? The situation could hardly have been scripted any better for either coach Ryan Day or Hoak, who gets to return home with a chance to potentially play a meaningful role for the hometown program.
But Hoak is important beyond that feel-good storyline. And Ohio State didn’t take him just because those surface-level details fit the narrative. Since the next quarterback addition was already going to miss spring camp, the Buckeyes didn’t have to necessarily rush to a decision if it didn’t make sense for the offense, the chemistry in the meeting room and the future of the position over the next couple seasons.
Ohio State still had to be impressed by what it saw in Hoak. And just as importantly, Hoak needed to make sure that the chance to compete with Justin Fields was right for him — knowing he’s likely playing from behind in the race and will have to absorb the playbook in a hurry. All parties quickly found what they were looking for in the process, and for the Ohio State coaching staff, that means there is a belief that Hoak could win games if necessary.
“Every quarterback that we bring into our program will be evaluated thoroughly,” Ohio State quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich said last month. “He’s a guy who fits our system. He’s a very cerebral guy. I think he has been coached really well. Being in college football for a number of years, he is a little bit more ahead of the curve than a true freshman. He’s a very intelligent guy.
“Not being able to work with him on the field throwing the ball, it’s really hard for me to elaborate on an individual who hasn’t had one practice yet. But that’s the situation in a lot of rooms.”
There’s no doubt that’s a challenge for the Buckeyes and Yurcich, who is also still trying to get Fields up to speed after just 15 practices with the program this spring.
Inexperience is clearly an issue for Ohio State at the most important position on the roster. But talent shouldn’t be, and Gunnar Hoak is a key part of that comfort for the Buckeyes.
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