Ryan Day is once again not quite ready to name Ohio State’s starting quarterback at the end of spring practice. That could be (and is hopefully) a well-devised smokescreen because there’s a clear-cut leader to be QB1 for the Buckeyes.

Following Saturday’s spring game, Day had a lot of positive things to say about Will Howard, and rightly so. Howard looked strong with the first-team offense, including a veteran pocket presence that impressed Day.

“The pocket presence is something that was there early on. When he got to spring practice, we were able to see that. That’s something that is difficult to teach, that your eyes are downfield but you’re seeing the rush,” said Day “…Over the spring, the timing is increasing, it’s getting better over and over again.”

Despite Howard’s performance and the showings from the rest of the QB room, Day said the staff will wait before naming a starter:

“I wouldn’t say that I’m making any declarations right now. We’ll look at the film and see what it says and decide where it goes from there. But I don’t have much to say about it right now,” Day said.

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To be fair, every coach should revisit the film before every major decision, even if one choice seems obvious. And, it’s possible Day is trying to buy himself some time to get past the spring portal window.

Still, Buckeye fans better hope Day is just playing coy right now because there was one clear-cut choice for QB1 on the field.

The QB picture

Heading into the spring game, some anticipation to see freshman Julian Sayin in action was building. He was quick to shed his black stripe, and Day himself declared Sayin was “in the mix” for the starting job.

If Sayin is still legitimately in the mix, something has gone terribly wrong. This is not a comment about Sayin’s potential or long-term success, but he was 10-for-17 for 85 yards with an interception. He also took 3 sacks, showing his pocket presence has a long way to go. All that to say: Sayin is not the answer at this point in the process.

The player that did look like the answer is Will Howard, the veteran from Kansas State who was always expected to be the starter this fall. Howard was 9-for-13 through the air for 77 yards and showed good leadership while moving the offense down the field. Even without a touchdown, Howard looked like the right leader for the offense.

What about Devin Brown?

Devin Brown has continually reiterated he’s not going to transfer out of Ohio State and that the presence of competition does not bother him. Unfortunately, injuries last season interrupted his progression after originally losing the QB battle to Kyle McCord.

In the spring game, Brown shined alongside Howard while going 5-for-7 for 66 yards and a touchdown. He also avoided taking a sack and showed an ability to escape the pocket with his legs, picking up 24 rushing yards in the process.

Brown has the chance to keep pushing Howard, but Brown is still the likely option to serve as the backup for now. However, it does say a lot that Brown was leaps and bounds above what Sayin, Air Noland and Lincoln Kienholz produced on Saturday.

Everybody wants to be the starter, and that’s the kind of drive a coach wants out of every player. However, Brown’s seniority within the program is a key piece of this QB room, and even as the backup, the Buckeyes are likely to have a package of plays for Brown this season.

Beyond that, Brown has a great chance to continue developing even as the backup this season. If Brown is able to add to what he has already shown, he can enter the 2025 offseason with a firm grasp on the starting role, even as Sayin and Noland fight for their shot in the spotlight.

All that is for the future, and we’ll see how long Day tries to play coy before inevitably handing the reins of the offense to Howard.

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