Ohio State QB Kyle McCord enters transfer portal. What’s next for Buckeyes?

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 Kyle McCord #6 of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks to pass against the Michigan Wolverines during the first quarter in the game at Michigan Stadium on November 25, 2023 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord announced Monday that he entered the transfer portal. Here’s what you need to know:

  • McCord started all 12 games for the Buckeyes this season. He completed 65.8 percent of his passes and tallied 3,170 yards, 24 touchdowns and six interceptions in an inconsistent season.
  • After sitting behind C.J. Stroud for two years, McCord beat out Devin Brown for the job in preseason camp and helped Ohio State to an 11-1 record.
  • A five-star recruit, McCord signed with Ohio State in the Class of 2021 out of Philadelphia’s St. Joseph’s Prep and has one year of eligibility remaining.
  • When asked Sunday if McCord was his starting quarterback going into the Cotton Bowl against Missouri and beyond, Ohio State coach Ryan Day didn’t give a definitive answer.
  • Ohio State WR Julian Fleming, who is fourth on the team in receiving, also announced he was entering the portal Monday.


— Kyle McCord (@kylemccord16) December 4, 2023

Evaluating McCord

When at his best, McCord shows off elite arm talent. He can sometimes get rushed in the pocket, which impacts his feet, but he has a strong arm and throws the ball on a line in tight windows. When he wasn’t pressured this season, McCord ranked seventh nationally in pass efficiency rating, per TruMedia. Don’t let the loss to Michigan or some of his inconsistencies fool you: McCord has talent.

But Ohio State had offensive line issues this season and McCord struggled against pressure, ranking 94th in pass efficiency rating by completing 39.2 percent of his passes. It’s definitely not up to the caliber of an Ohio State starting quarterback. That also trickled over to his progressions on the field. McCord had a tendency to look at his first target, and if it wasn’t there he was either pressured or checking it down to a running back. The checkdowns are fine, but he missed people running open downfield. He seemed to find a rhythm as the games went on, but those issues hurt Ohio State in the first halves of games. You never knew from drive to drive whether you’d get the elite arm talent or the quarterback who wasn’t comfortable in the pocket.

McCord may have seen the writing on the wall that Day was going to look into the transfer portal at quarterback options and perhaps did not want to go through another QB competition in Columbus after already winning one last summer.

What happens for the Cotton Bowl?

Who plays in the Cotton Bowl against Missouri seems like an easy answer: It should be Brown. But he was banged up throughout the season and didn’t see much playing time after he got injured on a quarterback run near the goal line against Purdue.

He did battle with McCord down to the wire this summer for the quarterback, and you can see the upside with his legs. We haven’t seen him be forced into a position where he has to make throws downfield to move the offense consistently, though.

If it’s not Brown, Ohio State could go in a few ways. Oregon State transfer Tristan Gebbia, a seventh-year senior, could end his career leading the Buckeyes in the New Year’s Six Bowl or Ohio State could turn to freshman Lincoln Kienholz, who has impressed people behind the scenes in practice.

Brown is the most likely choice, but regardless, Day is going to give everybody reps in the practices leading up to the bowl game.

Going forward, the Buckeyes are set to return Brown and Kienholz and add Class of 2024 five-star recruit Air Noland.

Who can Ohio State target in the transfer portal?

The biggest name is Washington State’s Cameron Ward. He’ll be among the most sought-after quarterbacks in the portal because of his talent, but also his experience. After starring in the FCS at Incarnate Word, he played in 25 games for the Cougars and completed 65.5 percent of his passes for 6,968 passes, 48 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in two years. He’s going to be one to watch for a lot of the West Coast teams also looking for quarterbacks, including potentially USC and Oregon.

Coastal Carolina’s Grayson McCall is a three-time Sun Belt Player of the Year who threw for over 10,000 yards in his five years at Coastal Carolina. He’ll be the most experienced option in the portal, though he hasn’t played at the Power 5 level yet.

Oregon State and former Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei is back in the portal. He has had an up-and-down career, playing three years at Clemson before transferring to Oregon State, where he threw for a career-high 2,638 yards, 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season.

Kansas State quarterback Will Howard is an interesting player because of his experience. He threw for 5,786 yards in four years at Kansas State and led the Wildcats to the 2022 Big 12 title game. He was terrific in the loss to Texas this year, throwing for 327 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Though he’s completed under 60 percent of his passes for his career, he remains one of the better options in the portal as of Monday morning.

Required reading

  • 10 names to know in college football’s transfer portal: Cam Ward, Joey Slackman and more
  • College football quarterback transfer portal tracker: Best players available and decisions
  • College football transfer portal live updates: Latest news, commitments
  • Ohio State vs. Missouri in the Cotton Bowl: Can Buckeyes move on from Michigan loss?

(Photo: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)

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