Howard brings athleticism and experience to Ohio State QB room facing uncertainty
Former Kansas State quarterback Will Howard announced Thursday he will transfer to Ohio State, providing the Buckeyes an experienced option to compete for the starting job in 2023.
Howard started 17 games over three seasons at Kansas State, throwing for over 4,000 yards with 32 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. While his passing efficiency numbers were just average, he brings added mobility and rushing ability that could give him an edge in the Ohio State quarterback battle.
At 6’4″ and 225 pounds, Howard has a strong arm and good size for the quarterback position. He also flashed his athleticism at Kansas State, rushing for over 500 yards and 11 touchdowns in his career.
Lead up to Howard’s transfer decision
Howard entered the transfer portal on December 2nd after losing the starting job at Kansas State this past season. He took visits to several schools, including USC and Wisconsin, before ultimately picking the Buckeyes.
Ohio State had their own quarterback drama unfolding, with 2021 starter C.J. Stroud declaring for the NFL Draft. His likely successor Kyle McCord also entered the transfer portal earlier this week. This left the Buckeyes thin at the position, opening the door for Howard to come in and compete right away.
Implications for Ohio State’s QB battle
By adding Howard, Ohio State now has three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster – Howard, Devin Brown, and Lincoln Kienholz.
Brown saw limited backup duty behind Stroud this past season as a true freshman. While talented, he does not have the experience or rushing dynamism Howard brings. Kienholz is an incoming 4-star freshman.
Potential Candidates for Ohio State Starting QB Job
|17 starts at Kansas State
|Limited backup duty
Howard will have over a year spent learning the offense before he takes a snap, while Brown and Kienholz are younger options. This experience, combined with his athleticism, likely gives Howard the early edge to win the job. But he will have to earn it in what should be an open competition.
What Howard brings to Ohio State
In addition to athleticism and experience, Howard arrives at Ohio State ready to play at the highest levels of college football. His time in the physical Big 12 conference helped prepare him for the weekly battles in the Big Ten.
Howard also elevates the floor of quarterback play for Ohio State in 2023. While perhaps lacking the elite passing upside of some starters, he is an accurate, dual-threat option who can execute the offense and avoid mistakes. For a team expected to lean on its defense and rushing attack, Howard fits the game manager mold well.
And if he doesn’t win the full-time job, Howard provides critical depth and injury insurance at the thin position. His starting background makes him one of the most overqualified backup quarterbacks in the conference.
What’s next for Howard and Ohio State
Howard will enroll early at Ohio State and compete with Brown and Kienholz in spring practice for the vacant starting role. New offensive coordinator Brian Hartline will get an extended look at all three options.
Expect the quarterback battle to last deep into fall camp in August, as Hartline and head coach Ryan Day take time to evaluate the contenders. But Howard’s combination of skills and readiness make him a strong bet to be under center when Ohio State opens the 2023 season at home against Indiana on September 2nd.
Even if he doesn’t win the initial competition, Howard’s transfer greatly stabilizes the Ohio State quarterback room ahead of a season filled with championship expectations. After losing a legend in C.J. Stroud, the Buckeyes appear to have found an experienced new leader in Will Howard capable of guiding their high-powered offense.
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