Not only did first-year coach Ryan Day have to replace Heisman Trophy finalist Dwayne Haskins as the starting quarterback, he also lost his backup from last season and one of the prime contenders to be the starter sooner or later.
The Buckeyes even lost a walk-on to transfer early on in the transition following Urban Meyer’s retirement.
Returning starters: None
Others: Chris Chugunov, Danny Vanatsky
Newcomers: Justin Fields, Gunnar Hoak, Jagger LaRoe, J.P. Andrade
Fields joined the program in January after serving as the backup quarterback at Georgia as a freshman last fall, and his arrival played a role in 2018 backup Tate Martell transferring to Miami (Fla.).
Fields was the No. 2 player in the class of 2018 and brings a ton of talent in a 6-3, 223-pound package.
Renowned for his running ability, Fields has a strong arm but is raw, having thrown 39 passes at the college level and playing mostly in mop-up duty for the Bulldogs.
He is a better runner than Haskins, who rewrote the OSU record books last season, but Fields is still determined to beat teams from the pocket.
His top competition for the starting job figures to be Hoak, who transferred from Kentucky in April after redshirt freshman Matthew Baldwin announced he was leaving to play closer to home (ultimately TCU).
Hoak was a three-star prospect at Dublin Coffman in the northern Columbus suburbs and has two years of eligibility remaining. Although he is older than Fields, Hoak actually has less experience, having played five games and throwing 26 passes for the Wildcats.
Chugunov arrived last summer as a graduate transfer from West Virginia and threw four passes as the team’s No. 3 quarterback.
Vanatsky is a sophomore walk-on from Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy.
Andrade is a three-star prospect who will join the team as a preferred walk-on from California.
They are all playing for a new position coach in Mike Yurcich, who came from Oklahoma State to replace Day after Day was promoted to head coach.
LaRoe is transferring to Ohio State this summer after a year at Texas A&M as a walk-on.
Quotable: Day on Fields: “I have always stopped myself because this is somebody who has so much talent, and physically God gave him a ton of gifts. but learning to play the position is something you learn through experience. He just doesn't have that experience, so we can't substitute that. That being said, we have so many tools and resources in place that he can use to get himself to advance along the way. So we you know there's film, there's workouts, there's throwing on his own with the receivers and the tight ends and running backs. He has to do that the summer on his own, we can't do that with him.
“And then there's going to be preseason camp and trying to get as many reps as we possibly can. We have different ways to do that. The summer you know virtual reality, all kinds of different tools to try to get him advanced and all of our quarterbacks, all of our positions. But but he's done a good job so far, he's been working really, really hard in the weight room, he's been doing a good job you know studying film. You know you can actually take the iPads home and then watch film, and we have so much film to go off of the last couple of years you know, study in your dorm. So it can't just be the eight hours of the week, it's going to be more than that on his own.”
Quotable, part two: Day on Hoak: “First off, he’s from here and he understands what Ohio State is, he's got bloodlines here, that matters to us. But also just watching the film and talking to his high school coach, the accuracy there, somebody who's played in games. He has some experience, he's an older guy, he's very intelligent and we think he could pick up the offense pretty quickly, He's already done a good job, so you know we mix all those things together, I mean that's a guy we want of the team.”
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