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Look at all those quarterbacks! Ohio St has a surplus of signal-callers as spring practice opens

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Last year at this time, Ohio State's quarterback situation was a clear two-man competition on which the dust didn't settle until the week before the season opener.

As 2024 spring practice opened Tuesday, the Buckeyes find themselves with enough nationally recognized potential starting quarterbacks to field a basketball team.

Last year's starter wasn't even among the fabulous five that took the field at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Kyle McCord entered the transfer portal and landed at Syracuse, shortly after the Buckeyes suffered another embarrassing loss to Michigan.

Among the contenders, Devin Brown, last year's backup who re-injured an ankle early in the Cotton Bowl game, will try to again convince coach Ryan Day — and new offensive coordinator Chip Kelly — that he should be the Buckeyes starter. Lincoln Kienholz, a freshman who also had a rough go in that 14-3 loss to Missouri in the bowl game, also wants the job.

Day worked the transfer portal to get Will Howard, who played four years at Kansas State. He also landed two of the top high school quarterback recruits in the nation, Air Noland and Julian Sayin, the latter of whom was lured away from Alabama after coach Nick Saban retired.

Beyond the difficulty of evaluating five quarterbacks, the situation also begs the question of how many of them will be satisfied sitting on the bench for any length of time at Ohio State, especially with all the NIL money available for star quarterbacks at other places?

“I think we'll get an idea of how it all shakes out at the end of the spring,” Day said Tuesday. “But it is different because of the portal window opening. And we do have a bunch of guys in that room, so we're hoping to see some delineation as the spring goes on.”

One guy who says he's definitely not going anywhere is Brown, a third-year player who was edged by McCord for the starting role last year. He resented the internet chatter suggesting he should transfer.

“People have this thought in their own heads that I’m going to leave and that I’m a quitter,” Brown said. “But that’s never been the case."

He insisted he wasn't surprised or fazed by the number of other quarterbacks Day brought in.

“That’s Ohio State,” he said. “You’re obviously going to have the best players no matter what. I didn’t care coming in here who was in here. I’ve said it from the start."

Howard said he’s spent his first couple of months just trying to get to know his new teammates. He realizes the learning curve will be steep, especially this spring. But he also expects to be the starter when the Buckeyes open at home against Akron on Aug. 31.

“I got one more year. And the fact is, I didn’t come here to be nervous or to be timid or anything like that,” Howard said. “I’m ready to go. It might not all be perfect, but that’s how I’m going to learn. Nothing’s too big for me. Nothing’s too big for this team.”

Whoever lands the starting job will work with Kelly, who will have sole responsibility for calling plays as Day moves to more of a CEO role with the team. Kelly left UCLA to work under his former protege after Day's first hire, Bill O'Brien, decided to take the Boston College head coaching job instead.

Ohio State is in good shape most everywhere else, with returning players like receiver Emeka Egbuka and running back TreVeyon Henderson. The transfer portal brought top players Quinshon Judkins, a running back from Ole Miss, as well as center Seth McLaughlin and safety Caleb Downs from Alabama.

In the first year of play for an expanded Big Ten and 12-team College Football Playoff, Ohio State will play new conference member Oregon on Oct. 12 in Eugene.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football