COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — For the first time in decades, the Ohio State football team kicked off fall camp in front of fans at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

This year’s camp features a quarterback competition between Kyle McCord and Devin Brown, vacancies on the offensive line and questions about whether the defense can stop explosive plays under second-year defensive coordinator Jim Knowles.

QB Battle

Coach Ryan Day said he hopes a starter emerges in the first couple weeks with the Buckeyes’ first game less than a month away.

“The expectations and standards are very high here,” Day said. “The guys who have come before have done an unbelievable job. … We should be playing for a national championship, [the QB] should be a Heisman Trophy finalist and first-round draft pick. That’s been the standard, and we’ve got to keep building on that.”

McCord is the assumed front runner, having backed up Heisman finalist and No. 2 overall pick C.J. Stroud for two years.

“I feel the best I’ve ever felt going into a camp before,” McCord said. “Obviously, I’ve had the most experience I’ve had going into a camp. I think now more so than ever (I’m) focusing on myself, and I know I’ll be in a good position to put the best version of myself out there.”

Meanwhile, Brown is entering his second year in Columbus and said the competition is only a good thing for the team.

“We’re trying to get each other better. You know, we’re trying to see who can help this team win,” Brown said. “That’s all we’re worried about. We’re worried about getting our guys better. Who’s going to get out there and beat Indiana week one?”

2nd year under Knowles

It’s no secret Ohio State’s inability to limit explosive plays ultimately cost it a chance at winning a national championship. The Buckeyes allowed 87 points in its final two games against Michigan and Georgia, but Knowles said Thursday he can see the difference between this fall camp and his first one in Columbus.

“I do see it clicking. I see players in the right spot and understanding more of the ‘why.’ You know why I call a certain thing. I expect all of our guys to be able to answer that,” Knowles said. “Not just what or where or how but why you know what’s the purpose behind this call and they’re able to see that now.”

The veteran-laden defense returns a plethora of starters. In fact, defensive end Zach Harrison was the only Buckeye defender drafted in April.

Returning defensive starters

  • Steele Chambers, LB
  • Tommy Eichenberg, LB
  • J.T. Tuimoloau, DE
  • Jack Sawyer, DE
  • Denzel Burke, CB
  • Jordan Hancock, CB
  • Lathan Ransom, S
  • Mike Hall, DT
  • Tyleik Williams, DT

Notes from camp

  • Safety is one of the most interesting positions to watch this fall. On Thursday, Knowles started sophomore Sonny Styles, Syracuse transfer Ja’Had Carter and returning starter Lathan Ransom, who was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe award. Challengers at the position include veterans Cameron Martinez and sixth-year returner Josh Proctor as well as sophomore Kye Stokes
  • Safety Kourt Williams III was moved from safety to linebacker
  • C.J. Hicks was getting looks at the Jack position — a hybrid between defensive end and linebacker. Hicks was the No. 2 ranked player in Ohio for the class of 2021 and flashed during the Buckeyes’ spring game. Mitchell Melton, who tore his ACL in OSU’s spring game in 2022, is also being worked back in and getting looks at the Jack spot
  • Ole Miss transfer cornerback Davison Igbinosun will challenge Jordan Hancock and Denzel Burke for a starting spot. Both Burke and Hancock are the starters right now, according to Knowles
  • Another Ole Miss transfer, Tywone Malone, bolsters OSU’s defensive front led by a fully healthy Mike Hall Jr., Tyleik Williams and Ty Hamilton
  • TreVeyon Henderson was a full participant after missing a large portion of last season with a foot injury that kept him from the dominant freshman fans saw in 2021