In his first time meeting with the local media since transferring from Kentucky, Ohio State quarterback Gunnar Hoak did not come across like much of a rebel.
He wore a typical red (or scarlet if you prefer) shirt with “OHIO STATE” across the front and a Nike “swoosh” below the collar, taking questions for about 10 minutes before his media obligations were finished seeming to have no problem explaining why he went against the grain in choosing to continue his career in Columbus.
“Just great tradition,” said the Central Ohio native said. “I've got a family legacy. I wanted to come home and just be a part of the tradition here. It's awesome, great path to take, and I just wanted to be a part of it.”
His affinity for Ohio State makes sense.
His father, Frank, played for the Buckeyes, and so did uncle Fred Pagac Sr. and cousin Fred Pagac Jr.
(The elder Pagac was also a long-time assistant coach in Columbus and the architect of the original Silver Bullets defense in the late 1990s.)
After starring at Dublin Coffman High School and spending three seasons at Kentucky, he decided to enter the NCAA transfer portal and explore his options aside from likely backing up Terry Wilson for another season.
That, too, fit perfectly into the trend for backup quarterbacks across the country.
But why in April choose a school that recently added Justin Fields, a five-star talent widely perceived to be the quarterback-in-waiting as soon as he stepped onto campus in January?
“It's kind of different,” Hoak acknowledged. “Coming home, that's one of the bigger parts of it. Like I've been saying, the tradition here at Ohio State, that's always been a dream of mine, ever since I was a little kid. I came to a ton of games here. So that was a huge part of it, coming here and being a part of this team.”
He said upon entering the transfer portal he received interest from Ohio State almost immediately. Also in the mix were “a few smaller schools” he didn’t name and Texas State, Eastern Michigan Western Kentucky and Rutgers.
Ultimately, the pull of home was strongest for the 2016 247Sports Composite three-star recruit, but he gets why others might be puzzled he chose a place his chances to get on the field might be slim.
“I understand,” he said. “At Kentucky, that was how I went. You've just got to compete every single day, no matter what.
"When I left there and I came here, I’m still competing. So I never have that mentality of 'I'm giving up.' So you've always got to come out every practice and compete, show the coaches what you've got, show the team what you've got and go out there and do the best you can and the coaches will decide who the best guy is and we'll roll with it.”
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