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Will Howard transfers to Ohio State: Buckeyes land ex-Kansas State QB as potential replacement for Kyle McCord

Former Kansas State quarterback Will Howard is transferring to Ohio Statehe announced on social media. Howard is the No. 7 overall available transfer in 247Sports’ rankings for the 2024 cycle. He joins a Buckeyes program that must identify a new full-time starter in 2024 after former starter Kyle McCord transferred to Syracuse. Howard’s biggest immediate competition is Devin Brown, who lost the battle with McCord last offseason. Brown started in Ohio State’s Cotton Bowl loss to Missouri

Howard, who played a pivotal role in K-State’s run to a Big 12 championship in 2022, entered the transfer portal on Nov. 27 after going 12-5 in 17 starts for the Wildcats over the past two seasons. He took visits to Miami and USC and even contemplated entering the NFL Draft before visiting Ohio State earlier in the week and subsequently committing to the Buckeyes, according to ESPN. 

“The goal I have, I want to go win a national championship,” Howard told ESPN. “At the end of the day, I want to go be a starting quarterback in the NFL. … I feel like the best place to stick as a quarterback in the NFL is as a first or second-round pick in the NFL Draft. Going to Ohio State gives me a chance to make a jump and leap into that conversation.”

Howard started at least a handful of games in each of his four seasons with the Wildcats. He was one of just four true freshmen to start seven games in 2020 when incumbent starter Skylar Thompson missed time due to injury. He spelled Thompson in three more games in 2021. 

Kansas State welcomed Nebraska transfer Adrian Martinez ahead of the 2022 season. Howard eventually wrestled starting duties away from Martinez and led the Wildcats to a Big 12 Championship Game win against TCU. Kansas State finally turned to Howard as its full-time starter in 2023 and he led the Wildcats to an 8-4 record, throwing for 2,843 yards and 24 touchdowns. The 6-foot-5, 242-pound Howard also rushed for 351 yards and nine touchdowns. 

Buckeyes add needed experience at QB 

Howard instantly provides experience to an Ohio State quarterback in desperate need of it as the Big Ten adds four new members — USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington — ahead of the 2024 season. The drop off from two-year starter and eventual first-round NFL draft pick C.J. Stroud was clear in 2023, even as the Buckeyes started 11-0 before back-to-back losses to Michigan and Missouri. 

The need for a boost at quarterback became even clearer during the 14-3 Cotton Bowl loss to the Tigers, as Brown struggled to before suffering an injury. His replacement — freshman Lincoln Kienholz — didn’t fare much better. Ohio State’s three points was the team’s lowest offensive output in a game since the Buckeyes were shut out by Clemson in the 2016 College Football Playoff semifinal. 

Howard may not be a showstopper when it comes to quarterbacks, but his presence does give coach Ryan Day a QB1 option with Power Five starting experience in 2024 — a luxury the team didn’t have last year when the choices were McCord and Brown. With a full offseason at his disposal, Howard should be well versed Day’s system by the time Week 1 rolls around.

Howard already embracing the Michigan rivalry 

Ohio State enters the 2024 campaign looking to avoid a fourth consecutive loss in the rivalry series with the Wolverines, something the Buckeyes have not endured since 1988-91, when the program was still under coach John Cooper. In his first interview with as a Buckeye, Howard already appears fully invested in one of college football’s greatest rivalries. 

“That game means so much,” Howard told ESPN. “The pressure is on. Beating that Team Up North is priority No. 1 on the way to the national championship and all our other goals. That’s huge and it’s everything when it comes to playing for Ohio State. I know the implications and what it means to the fan base and everyone in the program. That’s the Team Up North now.”

Howard seems ready to do battle with Michigan next fall, but first, he’ll have to win the battle in the spring.

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