Quarterback Quinn Ewers, the top-ranked player in the 2022 recruiting class, has decided to skip his senior season of high school and enroll immediately at Ohio State.
In a statement posted Monday on Twitter, Ewers said the decision to leave Southlake Carroll High School in suburban Dallas was based in part on the refusal of Texas' association governing high school sports, the University Interscholastic League, to allow him to take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities.
College athletes were granted that permission last month by numerous state legislatures as the NCAA reversed its long-standing policy prohibiting athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness.
Karissa Niehoff, the executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations, said those new rights would not apply at the high school level.
"Current high school student-athletes CANNOT earn money as a result of their connection to their high school team," she wrote on the federation's website.
Texas' UIL has declined to break from that policy.
"Over the past few weeks," Ewers wrote, "following Texas' UIL informing me I would be prohibited from profiting off my own name, image and likeness, I've taken time to think about what lies ahead of me, both in the short- and long-term. It's unfortunate I've found myself in this situation, as my preference would have been to complete my senior season at Southlake Carroll along with the teammates and friends I've taken the field alongside for the past three years.
"However, following conversations with my family and those I know have my best interests in mind, I've decided it's time for me to enroll at Ohio State and begin my career as a Buckeye."
Ewers said his decision is not based only on finances but also on his belief that it's best for his football career. He said he is one class from graduating, and that is "about to be completed."
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Ewers joins a crowded Ohio State quarterback room. Redshirt freshmen C.J. Stroud and Jack Miller and five-star true freshman Kyle McCord have been competing for the job since Justin Fields left for the NFL draft. None of the three have thrown a collegiate pass.
Ohio State coach Ryan Day said at Big Ten media days recently that all three are "even" headed to training camp.
"I am eager to start learning from Coach Day and the rest of the coaching staff," Ewers wrote. "I understand many will have their opinions on this matter. But only my loved ones and I know what's truly best for me and my future. This is not a decision I have made without a lot of thought."
Ohio State begins preseason training camp on Wednesday. Stroud, Miller and McCord, along with quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis, are scheduled to speak with the media on Tuesday for the first time in 2021.
It's not known when Ewers will be able to enroll at Ohio State and thus become eligible to join the Buckeyes in training camp. Even if he is admitted soon, he would be behind the other candidates because they have been on campus learning the system.
"It would be a significantly steep learning curve," ESPN national recruiting director Tom Luginbill said of the challenge for Ewers in competing for the job. "You've got guys like Jack and C.J., who have been in the program now two years. You've got Kyle McCord.
"You're making the jump athletically, You're making the jump academically. You're making the jump socially. There's just so much thrown at you that I think (for him to play) it would have to be a combination of him being so much better than everybody else and then everybody else not performing well."
Ewers, who is 6 feet, 3 inches tall and 207 pounds, is the highest-ranked quarterback from Texas since Vince Young was the top player in the 2002 recruiting class. In his last two seasons, Ewers threw for 73 touchdowns and 6,445 yards.
"I think physically, and from an aptitude standpoint, he's supremely talented," Luginbill said.
But Luginbill, a former college quarterback, cautioned that physical tools are only one factor in a player's success. He said he has seen "countless" players loaded with talent not pan out, for various reasons.
"It's very rarely physical tools," he said. "I think the concern that you pile on with all of this is, you're asking this kid to be as advertised as a player. Now the kid has extended pressure to perform because all of a sudden, he made this choice because of NIL and he hasn't even played yet."