The Ohio State quarterback position has been the talk of the Buckeye State this summer.
Much of the conversation has focused on Dwayne Haskins’ powerful arm or Tate Martell’s elusiveness, but there’s a third scholarship quarterback who’s starting to turn heads.
True freshman Matthew Baldwin was a late addition to the Buckeyes’ 2018 recruiting class.
OSU offered him a scholarship last November. At the time, the Buckeyes already held a commitment from four-star QB Emory Jones and Baldwin was committed to Colorado State. It seemed unlikely to go anywhere.
But in December, with Jones still waffling on his commitment, the Ohio State coaching staff walked away and turned to Baldwin instead. He committed to the Buckeyes on December 7 and was on campus in Columbus as an OSU student a month later.
The timing of the offer and the fact that he was a lower-ranked prospect than Jones had a lot of Buckeye fans wondering if Baldwin was just a warm body to help fill out the quarterback room until someone better came along.
“Nah, nah, nah. He’s not a Plan B at all. I can tell you that for sure,” said senior wide receiver Parris Campbell. “You can just see the way he carries himself. You can tell he just looks like a natural leader, he looks like a natural winner. Obviously he has the talent. The way he throws the ball is just incredible.”
Baldwin played his high school ball at Lake Travis in Austin, Texas. The Cavs are a Lonestar State powerhouse, with six state championships since 2007.
Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield starred there, and current Arkansas coach Chad Morris was the head coach in 2008 and 2009.
The downside to playing in such a big program is that Baldwin had to wait his turn to win the starting job.
He saw time as a backup as a junior, and finally seized the starting job his senior season. Despite only playing for a season and change, Baldwin finished his high school career with 4,515 passing yards, completing 73 percent of his passes for 54 touchdowns against just six interceptions.
However, Baldwin suffered a serious knee injury early in the Texas state championship game. He missed the rest of that game, and was held out of most drills during spring practice at Ohio State. He’s still not 100 percent healthy, although his exact timetable is unclear.
However, his rehab has progressed enough that Baldwin is now getting a chance to show the Buckeyes what he can do. The early returns are impressive.
Urban Meyer said that Baldwin has already put on 20 lbs since coming to Columbus.
“He’s up to 210 pounds,” Meyer said. “Receivers love him.”
OSU’s coaching staff has not been able to work directly with Baldwin during the summer due to NCAA rules, but they’ve already gotten some scouting reports from other members of the team.
“He can absolutely sling it,” said Campbell. “Last week I was throwing routes with him and he’s going to be elite.”
“Coach Meyer actually asked about Matt about a week and a half ago. He came to me and asked what I thought,” Campbell said.
“I love him. He’s a kid that doesn’t say much. He works, puts his head down and grinds. He has incredible talent.”