COLUMBUS – The current landscape of college football, especially for quarterbacks, was on full display before Jack Miller ever took a snap in Ohio State’s spring practice.
Miller, 4-star freshman quarterback who has enrolled early at OSU, was asked several questions related to the transfer portal and if he would stay at Ohio State if C.J. Stroud, another 4-star quarterback in the same class eventually moved ahead of him during a pre-spring practice interview.
College football players have acquired a level of mobility that would have been unthinkable to their predecessors 10 years ago or even five years ago with the transfer portal and graduate transfers.
Miller was fielding those questions because OSU signed two highly regarded quarterbacks this year after taking a late-in-the-process run at Stroud.
Ohio State first offered Miller a scholarship after his freshman year of football at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Christian Academy. He later transferred to Scottsdale Chaparral, a much larger school, and committed to OSU before his junior season.
He was regarded as Ohio State’s No. 1 choice at quarterback in the 2020 recruiting class but when the opportunity to sign Stroud came along, coach Ryan Day jumped at it, but not before talking with Miller about it.
“They just said, ‘Hey, we’re probably going to end up offering this guy and if you have any problems with it, let us know,’ ” Miller said. “I said, ‘No, you can offer whoever you want.’ I’m not that type of guy. You bring in whoever you want, I’m going to compete with them.
“I’d been committed here for two years and I really never wavered, I never really thought about going anywhere else,” he said.
Ohio State had only three scholarship quarterbacks on its roster last season – starter Justin Fields, back-up Chris Chugunov and Gunnar Hoak. Last season was Chugunov’s final year of eligibility and Day wanted to have four scholarship quarterbacks going forward.
Miller was rated the No. 14 pro-style quarterback in this year’s recruiting class and the No. 290 prospect overall. He threw for 9,440 yards and 115 touchdowns in his career.
“I’ve got a pretty strong arm and I can make every throw. I feel like I can improve on my footwork and pocket movement and my speed,” he said.
His recruiting rankings dropped over his last two years of high school because of injuries that limited him to a total of 15 games his junior and senior seasons.
He suffered torn medial collateral ligament as a junior, hurt his back at the Elite 11 camp the summer after his junior season, then suffered a shoulder separation as a senior.
“I really haven’t gotten to play a whole lot of football these last two years and its kind of all getting bottled up and I’m just ready to go,” Miller said.
Those injuries might be another reason Ohio State thought it needed to bring in another quarterback this year.
The safe choice might be for the more experienced Hoak to begin the season as Fields’ back-up. But it is possible Miller or Stroud could move into the No. 2 slot at some point in the season and establish themselves as the early favorite to be the starter in 2021 if Fields declares for the NFL after this season as he is expected to do.
Miller said he is not looking that far ahead just yet. “I know Ohio State is the place for me right now. So we’re just focusing on this year and what we can do.”
Jim Naveau is a sportswriter for The Lima News.