McCord was one of the top quarterbacks available in the transfer portal, leaving Ohio State after going 11-1 as a starter this season and 12-1 over his three-year career there. He finished this season with 24 touchdown passes and six interceptions while completing 65.8% of his passes.
He is immediately eligible and will have one year of eligibility remaining. His signing is a coup for Syracuse, giving the Orange a linchpin for Brown to build around in his first season.
McCord is the highest-ranked player — No. 31 in the Class of 2021 rankings — to commit to Syracuse since ESPN began recording recruiting rankings in 2006, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
McCord has deep ties to the Syracuse staff. He grew up in New Jersey and has known both Brown and quarterbacks coach Nunzio Campanile for a decade. He also has deep ties to Jeff Nixon, the expected hire at offensive coordinator who is finishing the season as the New York Giants‘ running backs coach.
“I think the experience on the coaching staff is extremely important,” McCord told ESPN. “It was a big factor in my decision. Just being at a place where I can be surrounded with good players. They’ve done some good things on the portal trail, bringing in some guys from Georgia and other places. All of that, when you combine it, makes it an appealing destination.”
His faith is rooted in Brown, who replaced Dino Babers. McCord has lauded Syracuse’s early work in the transfer portal to upgrade its talent.
“What Coach Fran has been able to do in the last few weeks since becoming head coach, it speaks volumes,” McCord said. “I think the pieces are all coming together at the right time.”
McCord is aiming to prepare himself for the NFL. He acknowledged having just one year of eligibility left made him focus during his portal process on where he could succeed.
“I have one more chance to go out and really commit myself, and going through the process, I was looking at schools where I’d have a chance of winning right away,” he said. “And with the pieces going there, I’ll definitely have that option.”
He said Nixon’s extensive NFL history — well over a decade at different spots around the league — and as Baylor‘s playcaller under Matt Rhule was attractive to him.
“Being diverse [on offense] and being able to throw the ball around the field and put up points,” McCord said of Nixon. “He’s done that everywhere he’s gone.”
McCord’s inclusion in the portal was one of the biggest surprises of the college football offseason after he went 11-1, with the only loss coming to Michigan in the final week.
He said he was appreciative of the time and experience he gained with the Buckeyes.
“I think the biggest thing is starting a full season there,” McCord said of Ohio State. “I learned a lot and played a lot of football and played in a lot of big games. That experience is valuable experience. Being able to take that to Syracuse is going to be a huge tool for me. Having that in my pocket and knowing what I need to work on now, that’s huge.”
McCord also has familiarity with the roster at Syracuse. He told ESPN he knows defensive lineman Denis Jaquez Jr. and defensive back Alijah Clark, Syracuse players who hail from New Jersey. He also said he knew a number of the portal recruits who were visiting over the weekend he took his official visit to Syracuse.
“Just being around a bunch of guys I played football with growing up,” McCord said. “Being around coaches I’ve known forever. It felt like everything is happening at the right time.”