Major shockwaves reverberated through the college football world when legendary Alabama head coach Nick Saban announced his retirement after a 17-year period of dominance over the sport in which the Crimson Tide won six national championships. Following Saban’s decision to retire, current Alabama players have a 30-day window to potentially transfer to another institution to continue their college careers. Though transferring was made more difficult due to the timing of Saban’s decision, which was at the start of classes for most universities, many players still opted to enter the portal. Among those players was true freshman quarterback Julian Sayin, the younger brother of Penn’s star signal-caller Aidan Sayin.
Just over a month ago, it seemed unfathomable that the younger Sayin would even enter the portal so soon. After committing to Alabama on November 2nd, 2022, the No. 1 quarterback and fifth-ranked player overall of the 2024 class, according to the 247Sports composite, had a relatively quiet recruitment, sticking with his pledge to the Tide despite late offers and heavy pursuit from schools such as LSU, Notre Dame, and Ohio State. The Carlsbad, Calif. native and Elite 11 MVP inked his National Letter of Intent on Dec. 20, and even took part in Alabama’s practices for the Rose Bowl.
Sayin reportedly came to Tuscaloosa primarily because he wanted to play for Saban. With the coach’s abrupt retirement, however, the unanimous five-star recruit thought it would be in his best interest to depart, and officially entered the transfer portal on Friday morning. Numerous schools lined up as suitors, with some Red and Blue faithful hoping he would come to Penn to learn under his brother for a year before taking over the next season.
Sadly for the Quakers that would not be the case as Sayin quickly committed to Ohio State, where he will reunite with former Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, who first recruited Sayin to Tuscaloosa before leaving for the NFL.
"Incredibly excited to join the team here at Ohio State. I held this program in high regard throughout my entire recruiting process and am looking forward to learning from some of the most talented players and coaches in college football and contributing to our team's success," Sayin told ESPN on Sunday, the day of his commitment.
Sayin will enter an already-strong QB room in Columbus, as the Buckeyes have already brought in transfer quarterback and presumed starter Will Howard from Kansas State, and signed fellow 2024 five-star prospect Air Noland out of Georgia last month. Still, Sayin knows the challenges ahead of him and is eager to compete while developing in a program that has had three signal-callers get drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft since 2019.
“There were no promises about immediate playing time, but Julian is not afraid to compete with anyone. He knows they have a strong QB room in place but his goal is to come in and be ready to play and I definitely think he’s ready for that as well,” Sayin’s high school coach Thadd MacNeal said in an interview with 247Sports Sunday.