At this point, it would be quicker to list the records that J.T. Barrett does not possess. He is not the fastest man on the planet — that’s Usain Bolt. He has not skydived from the highest point in human history — that’s Felix Baumgartner. Everything else, however, belongs to Barrett.
Replacing a four-year starter at any position is a difficult proposition. Heck, replacing Barrett after just one year as a starter didn’t work in 2015, so it won’t be any easier in 2018.
Barrett threw for 9,434 yards in his career and rushed for 3,263 yards — which is more than guys like Keith Byars, Carlos Hyde, and Raymont Harris.
Even ignoring his four-year statistical compilation, whoever plays quarterback for the Buckeyes in 2018 is going to have to replace over 3,000 yards passing, 800 yards rushing, and 47 touchdowns. It won’t be as easy as J.T. Barrett made it look.
Watching Dwayne Haskins take control of the Ohio State offense and lead the Buckeyes to victory at Michigan this past season, it is easy to simply anoint him as the future, and many already have. That is not quite reality, however. Not yet, anyway. Haskins will need to show that not only can he complete those key third-down strikes like he did against Michigan, but that he can also be the leader that Urban Meyer needs from his quarterbacks.
Before Haskins was the heir apparent, there was Joe Burrow. Burrow was J.T. Barrett’s backup in 2016 and was competing with Haskins to remain there again in 2017 when he broke his hand in camp. That ended Burrow’s stint as the No. 2 quarterback because there is no competing for that job during the season. Burrow’s chance finally comes this spring and he’s not just going to let Haskins have the job that he wants equally as bad.
The third member of this group is Tate Martell, who redshirted as a true freshman this past season. Martell shined on scout team, but those days are done now that he will not only be competing for the starting spot, but also competing for a role in the offense that could be singular to him because of his abilities with the ball in his hands. Martell is on the outside looking in, but that won’t keep him from peeking.
There will also be a fourth quarterback to watch this season, as true freshman Matthew Baldwin is already on campus. He is expected to redshirt this season, but he was a must-get in this class because of a quarterback situation that could thin a bit after the spring. There is the possibility that a rule will pass this season that will allow players to play up to four games throughout the year and still redshirt, so you may get to see Baldwin on the field as well this coming season.
Urban Meyer wants to know his depth chart by the end of spring, and that will include the quarterback position. It gets talked about constantly with any mention of Joe Burrow, but he himself has said he will need to evaluate his future after the spring. It is going to be fascinating to see how the coaches treat this situation and how focused Burrow is on the task at hand. Expect Dwayne Haskins and Burrow to split reps evenly — perhaps a 40/40/20 split with Tate Martell bringing up the final third.
The best bet here is that all three starting candidates will excel because they will have another year of experience to draw upon, and with Ryan Day’s return, they can hit the ground running and just focus on getting better. The coaches will chart every single rep, response, and wrinkle during the spring and summer, but ultimately the winner of the job will be the guy who moves the ball the best.
I don’t expect a starter to be settled by the end of spring, but I do think a starter will be named by the end of fall camp. Urban Meyer kept his quarterbacks in the dark in 2015 and I think he has learned from that. It’s okay to name a starter but still let the No. 2 guy play in games until you’re sure you made the correct decision. The real challenge for Meyer may be convincing all of his quarterbacks that they have a legit shot to win the job in the fall.