Three quarterbacks were on display Saturday in Ohio State’s spring game. While most of the talk has been about the competition between Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins, people also got a good, long look at redshirt freshman Tate Martell.
Martell rushed for 69 yards on 11 carries, scoring once and getting sacked once. He showed impressive quickness and more than enough speed to get upfield in a hurry. He only completed 5-of-16 passes for 28 yards, but Urban Meyer didn’t hold it against him too much.
“I thought Tate Martell showed his athleticism and has kind of caught my eye, really since he’s been here, even more as of late,” Meyer said after the game. “He’s got to work obviously on his throwing the ball, but a lot of it is he’s throwing to young receivers and receivers that just aren’t productive right now.”
Martell’s speed and agility make him a guy that the coaching staff wants to get on the field, even if it’s not at quarterback. He spent last season on the scout team playing quarterback, running back, and receiver. While nothing is set in stone on Martell playing anything other than quarterback, the possibility of seeing him at receiver does exist.
“The one thing is Tate’s got an incredible skillset,” Meyer said earlier this spring. “There is some conversation about that, because he is a gifted guy.”
Buckeye football is known for its running back history, and this year there will undoubtedly be more history to add. Ohio State returns all three running backs from last season, and also add a pair of talented freshmen in Master Teague and Brian Snead.
Sophomore J.K. Dobbins and fourth-year junior Mike Weber get the attention, and rightfully so, but lost in the shuffle sometimes is third-year tailback Antonio Williams.
Williams has rushed for just 318 yards in his first two years at Ohio State, so carries have been hard to come by. One year ago, running backs coach Tony Alford told his players that if you want to play more, get better. And that’s what Williams did in the offseason. He had one of the best springs on the team and is more confident as a player and as a teammate.
Asked if he is frustrated by his lack of touches, Williams instead focused on his abundance of reach.
“No, I think I play a good role,” he said. “You know I’m kind of a leader in the room. I do what I need to do for the team. Whatever’s best for the team, that’s what I do. That’s what I’m here for.
“As a football player of course, you’re going to get a bit frustrated but at the same time also understanding what you do, what you’re best at. Like I said, I think I’m a pretty good leader with those two guys so that’s what I do.”
In case you haven’t heard, fourth-year Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow has options. He graduates in the spring and could choose to transfer and be eligible to play immediately.
His favored choice is to remain at Ohio State, but that may not be possible for a guy who wants to be a starting quarterback somewhere.
Nobody on the Buckeye football staff wants to lose Burrow. That doesn’t mean they will re-recruit him to try to keep him around. Nor do they even think they’ll need to.
“No. I think you’re honest,” said offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. “Because what does recruiting mean? You’re just presenting the facts. And at the same time I do think though because there is a lot of transparency and honesty, I think those kids – they’ve watched tape and they’ve watched tape together – all of the coaches have communicated, and they can get a feel for what they need to work on, where they’re at, and how it goes. I think what we’re going to do is recruit how good this team is going to be and we want you to be a part of the team and help us win.”
Front Four Health Updates
The Buckeyes were without a few members of the defensive line on Saturday. Sophomore defensive tackles Haskell Garrett and Malik Barrow were both out of action.
“Haskell has a concussion and that’s why he is out,” said defensive line coach Larry Johnson. “Malik had an ACL, so we are just waiting for him to recover from that.”
Barrow has been running during practice, so things are progressing for him.
“He has done well,” Johnson said. “He has his weight down to what we asked him to do, but he is doing well.”
One defensive tackle who spent most of the spring recovering from a broken foot was junior college transfer Antwuan Jackson. Jackson isn’t completely ready, but he played 20+ snaps on Saturday. Johnson said they wanted to push him a bit just to get him going as they head into the offseason.