Ohio State Spring Recap: Quarterback Stockpile Impresses

Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Joe Burrow

It’s probably safe to say that Ohio State has never had this much returning talent combined with this much untapped potential at the quarterback position. It’s a great situation for quarterbacks coach Ryan Day to be in, and it’s not a bad situation for the quarterbacks either. With this being J.T. Barrett’s last go-round with the Buckeyes, the battle for 2018 began this spring and will continue for the next 16 months. Based on what we saw throughout camp in March and April, it’s going to be a fun next few years.

Depth Chart
16 J.T. Barrett, rSr (6-2 220)
10 Joe Burrow, rSo (6-3 215) OR
7 Dwayne Haskins, rFr (6-3 214)
18 Tate Martell, Fr (5-11 205)

Urban Meyer declined to name Joe Burrow as J.T. Barrett’s backup following spring ball, saying instead that the race was “very close” between Burrow and Dwayne Haskins. Burrow began the spring as the No. 2 and sort of ended it that way as well, at least in terms of the reps. After film review and coaches meetings, however, some shifting here between the two could be possible.

“You look at what J.T. has done since he’s been here. It goes without saying. His experience is unlike anybody else in college football. As a coach, that helps you sleep at night. He’s done it and he’s shown me he’s done it. That speaks for itself.” — Ryan Day

If you’ve ever seen Tate Martell play, you may have noticed that he can bring a little flare to the position. We saw him bring some moves to the red zone with his first touch in the spring game. He’s a supremely confident guy who according to his coaches believes that he is going to play this year. He had some growing pains this spring, but don’t ever expect his confidence to wane for too long.

Dotable (Which youngster should be doted on.)
Ask those who have seen a few practices which Buckeye quarterback has the most potential, and they’ll tell you that it is redshirt freshman Dwayne Haskins. Fans heard about how advanced Haskins was even in high school, and he has closed the gap between him and Joe Burrow relatively quickly. Can he keep that momentum? He wasn’t as comfortable under pressure as Burrow was this spring, and I’m not sure that is something that can improve over the summer without a real pass rush. Still, there is so much potential here that you almost want to see what he’s capable of immediately.

J.T. Barrett
J.T. Barrett is looking to go 4-0 against Michigan.
J.T. Barrett is on pace to be Ohio State’s most prolific passer ever and one of its top five rushers ever. In other words, he’s on pace to be Ohio State’s greatest quarterback of all time. With seven more touchdowns to his credit, he will have accounted for more touchdowns than any player in Big Ten history. Yes, more than even Jabrill Peppers. Barrett’s limitations last season were numerous, but Ryan Day and Kevin Wilson went to work this spring to eliminate those limitations, and by their accounts they are very happy with the progress.

I don’t expect to see it, but I think giving Tate Martell a package this season on some zone read plays would be fun to watch. He is tremendous with the ball in his hands, but he’s still got work to do. He looked comfortable in the spring game and gained confidence throughout camp, so I’m guessing fall camp would be similar. I’m just not sure there’s a scenario where the coaches would want him and Dwayne Haskins to be on the same four-year timeline.

Well, considering that J.T. Barrett has twice been named the Big Ten’s Quarterback of the Year, and once won the Silver Football, there is no question which Buckeye quarterback should receive the most votes, accolades, and awards this season. However, should something happen to him, and quarterback in this offense should put up the numbers and wins to receive some acclaim.

Joe Burrow, as a redshirt sophomore, could start at just about any other Big Ten school this year. So while some are already moving Dwayne Haskins ahead of him, I’m going to stay on the Burrow Bandwagon and I believe he keeps the backup job. In fact, after watching him play in 2017, don’t be surprised when you start seeing him on preseason Heisman lists about nine months from now.

“Perfect last year J.T. Barrett was not. Improvement this spring he showed. Back in effect the deep ball was. A quarterback competition fans wanted to see. One they didn’t get. Hrrrmmm. It was necessary the coaches thought not. Their guy Barrett is. Used to it people should just get.”

One Buckeye receiver was asked to describe the differences between the passes from all four quarterbacks this spring. He said that there was very little difference in the passes from J.T. Barrett, Joe Burrow, and Dwayne Haskins, but said that Tate Martell’s passes floated a little more. That trait was noticeable in the portions of practice that I got to watch as well. Frankly, Martell should just be happy he’s getting to throw enough passes for his tendencies to even register with his receivers. That hasn’t always been the case at Ohio State.

Joe Burrow, as a redshirt sophomore, could start at just about any other Big Ten school this year. That being said, he may not be good enough to hold off Dwayne Haskins as the Buckeyes’ backup. Third-string is not necessarily where a quarterback wants to be, but we’ve seen it work out for others in the past.

I mean, come on. If J.T. Barrett isn’t outstanding this year in Kevin Wilson’s offense, there’s only so much more defending of him that I can do.

A couple of weeks ago I asked Ryan Day what it’s like taking a new job and then going about seeing who is on the current commitment list and who was signed and where his mind went when he found out that Ohio State had signed a quarterback who was only 5-foot-10 or 5-foot-11. Height, it turns out, wasn’t the measurable that he was interested in. “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,” he said. “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.”

Honestly, everybody. How many teams can say their starter may be the best quarterback in school history, and yet the two guys behind him are likely better pro prospects? This is an unprecedented time in Ohio State football. The truly amazing part is that there are people out there who will tell you that 2018 commit Emory Jones is the best of them all.

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