The Ohio State offense lost a massive amount lot of leadership from last season. Guys like J.T. Barrett, Billy Price, and Jamarco Jones have moved on, and the lessons they have learned have moved on with them.
Replacing Barrett at quarterback won’t just be about who throws the ball the best. Every player competing to replace him knows that it will come down to being the kind of leader that everyone can count on.
“I think the big thing for all of us is leadership,” said fourth-year junior Joe Burrow. “I think the best leader is going to win the job. Obviously, J.T. was the leader of the team last year and somebody is going to have to step up.”
Being around Barrett more than any of the other quarterbacks on this year’s team, Burrow has learned from the best. However, redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins has made it clear that he has taken on a leadership role with the team as well. Even though he doesn’t know if he will be the starter this season, Haskins has set out to make this offense his own.
“I think I do a great job at involving all of my teammates and I’m pretty close with everybody including the offensive line, tight ends, running backs, and wide receivers,” he said. “I feel like being a leader you have to have a relationship with your teammates and if you disconnect with them they’re not going to want to follow you.”
Forming those relationships with teammates is always important. A quarterback can’t lead from a distance, after all. He needs to be connected with the entire offense. These relationships and extra effort by Haskins may not only help separate him from Burrow and freshman Tate Martell in the quarterback battle, but it could help the offense develop as a whole.
“How can I get this person better?” Haskins said. “How can I talk to the offensive line and give them something different that they haven’t experienced before?”
This effort to bond with his teammates is not just on the football field.
“He hangs out with me, all of the offensive line, plus all of the Zone 6 guys,” offensive lineman Thayer Munford said.
Even though Haskins is unsure if he has claimed the starting quarterback job, his leadership and relationship with the rest of the offense helps showcase his abilities. This offense needs a leader, and Haskins believes he can be that guy behind center leading the Buckeyes.
But Haskins is not the only one fighting to be the leader of the offense. His mentality, however, is to assume he is the guy until he is told otherwise.
For Burrow, balancing the mindset of trying to be a leader while still competing for the starting job is not that easy. His main goal is to win the battle, and he also knows great leadership is how that will happen.
“You’re all three fighting for it and you’re all three trying to be leaders at the same time,” Burrow said. “You have to find your niche and you have to find where you fit into the team and where your leadership role is.”