Ohio State has four quarterbacks who are all a bit different from each other.
J.T. Barrett is the do-it-all dual-threat game manager who knows every last secret this Ohio State offense has to tell. Joe Burrow might be a taller version of Barrett, looking for that same kind of inner knowledge. Dwayne Haskins, meanwhile, is young, but has an arm that makes you forget about his legs. Then there’s Tate Martell, and, well, he’s just way different from all of them.
The point is that there is no preferred body type for the Buckeyes, as evidenced by the current roster. These individual uniquities were what struck new quarterbacks coach Ryan Day the most when he first arrived at Ohio State.
Eventually, however, he also began to see the similarities.
“Just like anybody else, when you come in here you start with the oldest guys and work your way down and try to learn as much as you can about them,” Day said this week. “The biggest thing that jumped out was how different they all were. They were all different shapes and sizes and some of them have different skill sets. But the one thing Coach Meyer has always recruited here was great competitors and great leaders. Those guys are all that.”
When Urban Meyer recruits quarterbacks, he looks for competitors and he looks for toughness. Those are the two requirements for Meyer. Without those two qualities, nothing else really matters. Without those two qualities, what’s the point?
It seemed to me that when Ryan Day looks out over the horizon of his quarterbacks room, if he was to pick and choose different traits from each of his players, he could combine these skills to make one heck of a prototypical quarterback.
So, with one last opportunity to speak with Day this spring, I asked him which individual traits he would take from each of his quarterbacks to create his ideal signal caller.
Rather than choosing Barrett’s knowledge, or Haskins’ arm, or Burrow’s touch, or Martell’s scrambling, he was only interested in the one thing that they all had in common.
“I don’t know if you can find the perfect quarterback,” he said. “I think when you try to do that, it may not always be the best way to go about it. You want to find the guy who is competitive. The guy who plays multiple sports and wants the ball in his hands at the end of the game.
“We’ve talked about ‘it’ for a long time and that term has been around for a long time. There is a reason for that. That is the factor. You kind of know it when you see it. I think all four of our guys have it. Hat’s off to the guys who recruited them.”
It shows up in overtime. It shows up on fourth down. It shows up every single day. And that’s why it is so important.
In fact, it’s the most important trait a quarterback can have. An arm can make a throw, and legs can pick up a first down, but it’s that competitive nature that makes use of the total package. That’s what gets a quarterback firing on all cylinders.
There is no such thing as a perfect quarterback, but the quarterback who is a competitor will come much closer to reaching his potential than the guy who simply relies on his arm or his legs.
The good news for the Buckeyes is that they have four quarterbacks who can rely on many different attributes, but more than that, they rely on their desire to win, which is the one trait that Urban Meyer likes about them most.