A new era of Ohio Bobcats football begins in 2024 as a program icon moves on.
Ohio operated under Kurtis Rourke as its full-time starting quarterback the moment the 2020s decade launched. But after providing four years of starting services and five total years in Athens, OH, Rourke will conclude his college career elsewhere.
Rourke entered the transfer portal as a graduate transfer, as first reported Tuesday by 247Sports’ transfer portal report Chris Hummer, in conjunction with Matt Zenitz.
The Ontario, Canada native threw for 7,651 yards and 50 touchdowns with just 16 interceptions across four years as a starting quarterback. His best numbers were observed in 2021, when he attained 3,257 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, and four interceptions on a 69.1 percent completion rate. Adding 245 yards and three touchdowns as a rusher to those impressive stats, Rourke was named the 2022 Vern Smith Leadership Award winner, which is given to the MAC’s top player on an annual basis, as well as the 2022 MAC Offensive Player of the Year.
Rourke attained First Team All-MAC honors in 2022, while leading the Bobcats to their first MAC Championship Game appearance since 2016. However, the quarterback did not participate in the conference title game or bowl due to a November ACL tear.
He returned from the ACL tear to start the 2023 season but suffered an unrelated injury in the first half of the opener against San Diego State. Rourke returned two weeks later and made 11 starts, firing for 2,207 yards and 11 touchdowns to attain Second Team All-MAC honors. He won his final three games at Ohio, including the regular season finale at Akron and his final home game vs. Central Michigan — where he was recognized in the pregame senior day ceremonies.
Rourke’s last two seasons as a starter featured the winningest two-year span in Ohio history, tied with the 2011-12 seasons. He participated in 16 of the 19 victories, as the Bobcats produced a 19-7 record since the launch of 2022.
Rourke currently stands 6’5” and 231 pounds. But the Canadian quarterback was discovered by Ohio’s coaching staff as a 5’10” high schooler. Before Rourke committed to Ohio, his older brother Nathan played for the Bobcats. Nathan started three seasons from 2017-19 and won three consecutive bowl games for the first time in program history. The brothers shared the roster in 2019 — Nathan’s final season in Athens before turning professional. Nathan is currently a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ roster, awaiting his first NFL snap.
Kurtis, who ironically grew up a Jaguars fan in Canada, first got acquainted with current Ohio head coach Tim Albin by discussing Jaguars football when Albin served as the program’s offensive coordinator. He spent his first two seasons working under Albin as a coordinator and the last three with Albin as his head coach.
Rourke is no longer listed on the roster on the Ohio Bobcats’ official website, suggesting he may not participate in the Bobcats’ upcoming Myrtle Beach Bowl against Georgia Southern on Saturday, Dec. 16. Backup quarterback CJ Harris, who started the 2022 Arizona Bowl, is out for the remainder of the season with an undisclosed medical condition, and Parker Navarro will likely start the Bobcats’ 2023 postseason contest.
Update, Dec. 14, 2023: Rourke announced his transfer to Indiana.