If there is a day without competition for an Ohio State Buckeye, it’s because they didn’t have to come to the football facilities that day. Other than that, competition rages between those walls wherever players gather.
The most prominent in-team competition in football is almost always the quarterback position, and the Buckeyes will likely have a battle on their hands in the spring and fall at that position.
Expected to be a competition between just Tate Martell and Matthew Baldwin, those vying to be the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback next season may have grown by one when Georgia freshman Justin Fields announced his transfer to Ohio State on Friday.
Fields had been rumored to end up at Ohio State for the last couple of weeks, and he carries with him quite a reputation as a prospect. It’s still a question if he will be ruled eligible immediately, but when the final ruling comes down likely sometime between now and May, he is expected to be eligible to play in 2019.
But don’t expect Baldwin and Martell to just roll over. We already know Martell has no plans of doing it, and neither does Baldwin.
The Need for Competitive Spirit
Above arm strength or running ability, when it came to evaluating quarterbacks, Urban Meyer would start with competitive spirit and toughness.
A year ago on the early signing day, Meyer spoke with reporters, going over the Buckeyes’ recruiting class. When he was asked about Baldwin, he didn’t talk about arm strength or accuracy, he talked about his loyalty to his high school and about seeing him perform on the biggest stage and competing the entire way.
Baldwin also threw the ball well and could keep plays alive with his feet, but it was that competitive spirit that Meyer talked about over a year ago.
Only a starter for one season at his Lake Travis High School, Baldwin stuck it out with his team rather than leave and look for an easier path to a starting job.
That experience stays with him today and fuels him towards the competitions to come.
“Charlie Brewer, the quarterback at Baylor, he was the MVP of the Texas Bowl last week, he started for two years and so I was under him,” Baldwin explained. “I had the option to transfer out my sophomore year, but I never did. I’m not afraid of competition. I welcome it because the best player is going to play here. There’s no politics. I hope I can be the best player.”
Even though there will be very little in the way of experience returning if Dwayne Haskins departs for the NFL, few teams will be able to match the pure quarterback talent that Ohio State will have next season.
But again, Baldwin isn’t going to just sit back and watch Martell and Fields battle it out. He believes he will be right in the mix of that competition.
“I’m very confident,” he said after the Rose Bowl. “Coach Day didn’t recruit me to come here and sit down and watch other guys. So that’s just my mindset.”
If Baldwin wasn’t interested in the competition that Ohio State carries with it, he could have stayed committed to Colorado State and signed with the Rams. The path to the field would have been easier, but easier isn’t what he was looking for.
Instead, Baldwin welcomes Fields, and welcomes the competition that he will bring.
“Competition isn’t something that I’m afraid of,” Baldwin said. “If you come to Ohio State and think there’s not going to be a competition, you don’t know what you’re doing. Like I said, I’m not afraid of it. I’ll just take on spring with a good mindset.”
As the least-experienced quarterback of the three, Baldwin won’t be considered the front runner for the job. After sitting for three years in high school and finally getting a taste of a starting job, could he soon grow tired of sitting and watching and being patient?
“Well, I am a patient person, so I don’t think I’m tired of it,” he said. “But I’d much rather be on the field than off.”