Much has already been written about Ohio State’s two freshman quarterbacks Jack Miller and CJ Stroud.
Questions abound about why Stroud would sign with OSU when they already had a quarterback, or why Miller would stick it out when Buckeye head coach Ryan Day went out and got another quarterback?
They are undoubtedly, but not unwittingly, tied together now because only one of them will be able to play at a time. And every single day, those on the outside will be wondering how their competition is going.
Right now, however, OSU’s quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis believes that competition is still a ways off.
“I wouldn’t even say it’s competing against each other as much as they’re competing against themselves,” Dennis said recently. “There is a huge transition between where they were. I mean, in all reality, these guys are still seniors in high school now. They still have a long way to go.
“But more importantly, they’ve continued to compete and that’s what it is. We’ve kind of come across the mindset that we need everybody. If we’re going to do what we want to do in the future, we’re going to need everybody in that room. Those guys have been nothing but great.”
Actual football practice doesn’t get underway until Monday, but even then the Buckeyes will still be almost exactly a half a year away from playing in a game. And considering starting quarterback Justin Fields is returning this season, Stroud and Miller could be a year away from truly beginning this quarterback battle.
Even though this is Dennis’ first year as the Buckeyes’ quarterbacks coach, he is not new to quarterback competitions at Ohio State. He came to OSU as an intern in 2015 and saw the mother of all quarterback competitions that year between JT Barrett and Cardale Jones. Then a few years later, he watched Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow duke it out in the spring of 2018.
Just as the coaches before him did, Dennis sees the possibilities only as a positive.
“We’ve had our shares of guys competing for spots,” he said. “I think when you come to that, more importantly I’m just excited that those guys want to be here, if that makes sense. You want guys that want to come to Ohio State. You want guys that want to be here, that want to compete, that aren’t looking for handouts. And I think that’s both of those guys. They knew what they were getting themselves into, and they want to be here and they want to compete.”
Quarterback competitions are generally seen as adversarial, but Miller and Stroud hang out together. They grab meals together. Like any other position group, they are helping each other through this transition period because neither of them is ready to do it alone.
And if Corey Dennis has his way, he would like this competition to resemble the Barrett v. Jones battle, at least off the field.
“The one thing with that one is, sure, it was a quarterback battle. But you guys know, even still today, they’re best friends,” he said.
“So for it to sit there and be a malicious battle or things like that, sure there’s going to be a competition, but they’ve leaned on each other, and that’s what we’re trying to build in that room. We’re trying to build a unit. We’re trying to build a group to where everyone can lean on one another. And it’s just kind of that atmosphere where ‘Hey, you have my back. I have your back.'”