Head coach Urban Meyer is no stranger to quarterback controversies at Ohio State; look no further than the triple quarterback conundrum of 2015.
Uncertainty at that position, however, is a completely different beast.
In Meyer’s six years in Columbus, just once has an unproven quarterback taken the field to start a new season; J.T. Barrett in 2014. Every other year — be it Barrett, Cradle Jones, or even Braxton Miller — Meyer was fielding a proven commodity at quarterback.
But now, with Barrett entering his fifth and final year with the program this fall, Ohio State will face absolute uncertainty at quarterback to start the 2018 season next fall.
Joe Burrow (rSo), Dwayne Haskins (rFr), and Tate Martell (Fr — the three signal-callers vying for the starting position in 2018 — have a combined zero starts at the collegiate level. Just one — 2016 backup Joe Burrow — has seen any relevant game time at all.
If the Buckeyes are to continue the ‘Championship or bust’ mentality that Meyer has so carefully developed over the years, one of these unheralded quarterbacks will have to step up next fall.
But which one?
Will it be Ohio’s Mr. Football in 2015 (Joe Burrow), the Deshaun Watson-esque Dwayne Haskins, or the undefeated high school quarterback Tate Martell?
Joe Burrow (rSo)
The presumed front-runner for the starting spot in 2018, Burrow performed well last season in limited time as Barrett’s backup; albeit all in garbage time. The pro-style quarterback threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns in 2016, while also rushing for 58 yards and a touchdown.
Burrow was not as highly recruited coming out of high school compared to his two contemporaries in Haskins and Martell, ranking as the 301st best player in the 2015 recruiting class, but don’t let that dissuade you from the quarterback’s ability.
Burrow was the unquestioned star of this year’s spring game, leading the Scarlet squad to a 38-31 victory behind an efficient 252 yards passing and three touchdowns (all in the first half).
“Very, very impressed,” new Ohio State quarterbacks coach Ryan Day said of Burrow. “Really talented, really smart in the classroom. Can run and can pass. Been very impressed with him.”
Burrow may not have the speed or athleticism of Haskins or Martell, but there’s no denying the precise touch the sophomore quarterback displays on his passes; especially those downfield. All three of Burrow’s passing touchdowns in the spring game came from outside the redzone, with two coming from beyond the 40-yard-line.
Ohio State is in need of a quarterback who can stretch the field — look no further than Cardale Jones’ performance in the College Football Playoff — and Burrow can do just that. Urban Meyer has yet to name the backup quarterback for the 2017 season, but Burrow is a safe bet. Next season, however, may not be so simple.
Dwayne Haskins (rFr)
A late addition to the Buckeyes’ 2016 recruiting class, Haskins ranked as the 89th best player in the recruiting class; seventh best ‘pro-style’ quarterback.
Last season — Haskins’ first on campus — the former four-star recruit opted to redshirt, allowing Joe Burrow to assert himself as the backup quarterback for the Buckeyes, but that didn’t mean Haskins wouldn’t have an impact.
Playing mostly as the scout team quarterback in 2016, Haskins reportedly came into his own during the bowl practices leading up to the College Football Playoff against Clemson.
“We have Dwayne playing (Watson) a little bit,” Buckeyes linebacker Jerome Baker said last December. “Dwayne, he’s been slinging it lately. He’s definitely a good look. We have great looks on our scout team.”
Four months later, and Haskins would finally be given the opportunity to show Buckeye Nation what he could do, starting for the Gray team during Ohio State’s annual spring game. The Maryland native threw for 293 yards and three touchdowns (both team highs), finding receiver Terry McLaurin for two deep touchdowns in the first half.
Haskins, although still behind Burrow in the depth chart this summer, appears to fit the Buckeye quarterback mold better than any current quarterback on the roster, capable of running and throwing from the pocket. For that reason, Haskins is predicted by many pundits to be the eventual successor to J.T. Barrett at quarterback for the Buckeyes.
But don’t forget Tate Martell, the quarterback who hasn’t lost a game since middle school.
Source: Yard Barker