Ohio State celebrated its 2019 Homecoming with a 34-10 win over Michigan State in early October.
But for grad transfer QB Chris Chugunov, homecoming is this weekend.
Chugunov is a native of Skillman, N.J. and played his high school ball for Montgomery High, about 30 minutes away from the Rutgers campus. He said “probably upwards of 60 or 70” people had asked him to get them tickets to see the game.
“I think thing I’m most excited about is I have a large group of family and friends who can’t always make it out here to Ohio for games, so I’m excited to have them there to see me play,” Chugunov said this week.
Chugunov spent his first three seasons as a college quarterback at West Virginia before coming to OSU as a grad transfer in the summer of 2018.
This weekend marks the first time he has played a game back in the Garden State since graduating high school.
Chugunov came to OSU as something of a “break glass in case of emergency” option after Joe Burrow transferred to LSU in the spring of 2018.
At the time, the Buckeyes had only two healthy scholarship quarterbacks, Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell, and they desperately needed a third.
He played in only one game in 2018, in the waning minutes of a blowout win over Rutgers.
But after Martell and Matthew Baldwin transferred following that year and Haskins opted to turn pro, Chugunov was suddenly the senior man in the quarterback room.
This year, the guy known around the team as “Chugs” has gone from an emergency option to a legitimate backup.
“He’s a guy that’s been around a lot of football, smart. He’s a guy you can count on,” said OSU head coach Ryan Day. “Understand what’s going on. He throws a good ball. He’s got good touch. He’s very intelligent. He can handle a lot without getting a ton of reps. That’s hard to do.”
Chugunov is currently working on his master’s degree in sport management and said earlier this year that he may try to become a sports agent when he hangs up his cleats for good.
But before that happens, he’s busy having fun and making a name for himself on the field as a Buckeye.
Chugunov has completed 71 percent of his passes for 271 yards and four touchdowns in backup duty this fall. That doesn’t include a bomb he threw against Maryland where he connected with freshman WR Garrett Wilson on a touchdown that was called back due to a penalty.
“I love the game, man. I love playing football. I love throwing the football too. It’s that simple for me,” he said. “That feeling of throwing a perfect pass. You know, for the five seconds I threw that one post up to (Wilson). You know, I felt really good and that’s why I’m still playing. I’ll play for as long as I can.”